Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
Southwestern States
Texas Waco

Waco, Texas

Waco was incorporated as a city in 1858.

S. S. Brown received a franchise from the city in November, 1877.  He engaged with C. W. White of Austin to finance the system, and the Waco Water Company incorporated June 28, 1878 with a capital stock $50,000.  William R. Freeman of San Antonio was the engineer, and these three men had also been involved in building water works in Austin. The company began service in September, 1878.

The Waco Water & Power Company was incorporated January 10, 1889 with a capital stock of $500,000 as a successor to the Waco Water Company. 

The Bell Water Company was incorporated on April 26, 1889 and received a franchise from the city.  They began service on September 1, 1889. 

After losing the city contract, the Waco Water & Power Company continued to supply private customers and was acquired in 1891 by the Debenture Guarantee & Assurance Company of Chicago.  The company moved into the irrigation business and also proposed to provide water for motor service from its elevated reservoir. 

The Debenture Guarantee & Assurance Company went into receivership in March 1895 and the the Waco system was sold at auction in March 1896 and was reorganized as the Waco Artesian Water Company in 1897.  It was bought by the Bell Water Company in 1899, which operated both systems until 1904 when it was bought by the city of Waco in 1904 for $411,000.

Water is provided by the city of Waco.

1877 San Marcos Free Press (San Marcos, Texas), November 10, 1877, Page 4.
The city council of Waco have accepted a proposition of S. S. Brown to build a system of water works and to have it completed by the first of next May. Tho contractor binds himself to erect the necessary machinery on the Brazos, to build a reservoir which will hold one million gallons, and to furnish a supply sufficient for a population of fifty thousand. The city takes thirty-five hydrants at $80 per year each.

1877 The Dallas Daily Herald, November 24, 1877, Page 3.
Brown, the Waco water works man, is about commencing work on the reservoir.

1878 Austin Daily Statesman, March 30, 1878, Page 3.
Mr. C. W. White has a contract for building and laying down a system of water works for Waco.

1878 Waco Water Company incorporated June 28, 1878

1878 "The City Council," The Waco Daily Examiner, September 6, 1878, Page 4.
Petition from C. W. White, Superintendent, asking that the Water Supply Company's contract be changed, as originally agreed upon, to correspond with the contract of S. S. Brown.

1878 "Water Works Men," The Waco Daily Examiner, September 18, 1878, Page 4.
Capt. M. D. Mather, President of the Austin Water Works Company and Major W C White President of tho Waco Water Supply Company arrived from Austin yesterday morning.  In the afternoon Mr Herbert tho Superintendent gave an exhibition, on the Plaza, of the capacity of our works to throw water, the firemen assisting him.  Through lines of hose extending from the fireplugs on the corners very strong streams were thrown and in a short time the entire Plaza was flooded.  The gentlemen named as well as citizens and spectators generally were very much pleated with what was done.

1882 Waco, Engineering News, 9:263 (July 29, 1882)

1887 "Waco," The Galveston Daily News, March 12, 1887, Page 1.
The Waterworks Muddle.

1888 "Waco," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1889 Waco Water & Power Company incorporated January 10, 1889

1889 Bell Water Company incorporated, April 26, 1889, capital stock $250,000

1890 "Waco," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Irrigation on a Large Scale," The Galveston Daily News, February 9, 1891, Page 1.
Particulars of a Big Scheme by a Waco Company. Many years ago the Waco Water and Power company was organized in this city nd for ten years this corporation, capitalized at $150,000, supplied this city with water for all purposes.  It has an enormous stone lined reservoir containing over 80,000,000 gallons of water, and several miles of mains and ... in the streets.  About two years ago this company last the city contract for water supply, which was awarded to the Bell Water company, for the artesian system.  The first named company has continued to supply a limited number of private consumers.  It is now prepared to go into irrigation business, and to that end the reservoir on Dickey Hill, within the city limits, will be augmented by a dam on the Bosque and the building of great storage lakes. The Waco Water and Power company has also drilled one artesian well, and will drill others. It is preparing to go into irrigation on a scale larger than any place at least in the state of Texas. Engineers from St Louis are expected daily to begin work of extending the system. Besides supplying water for irrigation, the Waco Water and Power company expects to supply water largely for motor purposes.  Its reservoir and its lake have an elevation over 100 feet above the mean level of the city, which will give enormous pressure for mechanical devices.

1891 "Waco," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1894  Waco Water and Light Company v. City of Waco et al., 86 Tex. 661, May 10, 1894, Supreme Court of Texas

1894 Waco Water & Light Co. v. City of Waco, et al., 27 S.W. 675, September 12, 1894, Court of Civil Appeals of Texas

1895 "Trustee's Sale," The Commercial and Financial Chronicle 60(1,557):vii (April 17, 1895)
Debenture Guarantee & Assurance Company
Waco Water Company.

1896 Electricity: A Popular Electrical and Financial Journal 10:158 (March 18, 1896)
Waco, Ten—The entire plant of the Waco Water & Light Company was recently sold at auction, and bid in by Hon. A. C. Prenthergast, representing the committee of bondholders, who have perfected plans for the reorganization of the company. The sale was made in foreclosure proceedings brought by the Knickerbocker Trust Company of New York, trustee for the bondholders. The property was bid in for $85,000 and is worth probably $200,000. The reorganized company will operate the plant and improve it very materially.

1897 Waco Artesian Water Company incorporated, March 15, 1897, capital $200,000

1897 "Waco," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4.

1898 Waco Artesian Water Co. v. Cauble, 47 S.W. 538 (Tex. App. 1898), October 26, 1898, Court of Appeals of Texas,

1899 El Paso Herald, May 16, 1899, Page 3.
The Bell Water company has closed a deal by which that company acquires the Waco Artesian Water company's plant for which is paid $100,000. The Artesian Water company was the rival company and the plant was the first one established in Waco. The plants will be run separately, one of them for domestic consumers and the other for sprinkling and fighting fires. Houston Post.

1899 "A Receiver asked for the Waco Bell Water Company,"Austin Daily Statesman, September 13, 1899, Page 8.
The city of Waco, by its attorney, Allen D. Sanford, filed an application for a receiver for the Bell Water company system this afternoon. The petition alleges that the water company has failed to comply with its contract with the city, which requires water pressure sufficient for fire fighting purposes at all times. The contract also requires the company to furnish artesian water to the patrons of the company at reasonable rates, which the petition alleges has not been done. The Bell Water company has no competitor now, that company having recently purchased the plant of its only competitor.

1900 Joseph Daniel 'J.D.' Bell (1837-1900) grave, president of the Bell Water Company

1904 "Waterworks for Waco," The Galveston Daily News, February 1, 1904, Page 4. | Part 2 |
City Council makes arrangements for taking over the plant of the Bell Water Company.

1905 J. W. Riggins v. City of Waco, 40 Tex. Cv. A. 569, November 15, 1905, Courts of Civil Appeals of the State of Texas

1916 "History of the Water Plant at Waco Under a Water Commission," by W. M. Sleeper, Fire and Water Engineering, 59(20):308 (May 17, 1916)

1935 Charles W White, Sr (1844-1935) grave, president of the Waco Water Company.

1935 "Eminent Wacoan Claimed by Death in his 90th Year," The Waco News Tribune, July 10, 1935

2011 "Brazos Past: Water baron helped Waco grow for decades," by Terri Jo Ryan, Waco Tribune-Herald, November 19, 2011.

© 2020 Morris A. Pierce