Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography

Biography of American Water-Works

The people who designed, built, and operated water-works faced enormous challenges.   Brief biographies of those who were involved in multiple systems or were otherwise notable will be included here, while others are noted on pages for individual systems.

Bacot, Robert Cochran 1818-1902 Jersey City; Hackensack; obit
Baker, Moses Nelson 1864-1955 Edited the four-volume Manual of American Water Works (1888-1897); in 1949 published The quest for pure water; the history of water purification from the earliest records to the twentieth centuryWikipedia entry
Ball, Jonathan 1797-1868 Inventor and manufacturer of cement-lined wrought-iron pipe; promoted water systems in order to spur sales of his pipe.
Ball, Phinehas 1824-1894 Worcester; founded the Union Water Meter Company
Battin, Joseph 1807-1893 Buffalo; Elizabeth; sought water works franchises in several cities; invested in Jonathan Ball's Patent Water and Gas Pipe Company.
Birkinbine, Henry Peter Miller 1819-1886 Germantown (erected first stand-pipe in America, 1851; West Philadelphia; York; chief engineer of Philadelphia Water Department 1858-1861 and 1864-1866.    Prepared reports on water supply of Harrisburg, Reading, Allentown, Lebanon, Lancaster, Bethlehem, and other cities.
Bernie, William 1818-1889 bio; Water works contractor, built sixty systems with C. L. Goodhue
Cassin, Isaac Sharpless 1826-1897 Bio; Grave, Philadelphia
Chesbrough, Ellis Sylvester 1813-1886 Boston; Chicago; Kalamazoo: Memphis; Milwaukee; Pittsburgh; Jacksonville, Illinois; Toronto; Akron; Cambridge; and New York City.
Church, Benjamin Silliman 1836-1910 New York City. Chief Engineer of Croton Aqueduct;  Helped President Abraham Lincoln repair a Worthington pump in the White House in May, 1861 while he was stationed in Washington as an Army Captain.  bio
Croes, John James Robinson 1834-1907 bio: New York City; Washington; Cincinnati; Newark; Syracuse; Indianapolis; The Statistical Tables of American Waterworks
Davis, John 1770-1864 Philadelphia; Baltimore
Disbrow, Levi 1785-1863 Promoter of artesian wells; held several patents.
Douglass, David Bates 1790-1849 New York City; Albany
Eastman, Cyrus 1787-1862 Natchez; Manchester
Emes, Luther 1760-1827 Boston; Keene, Lansingburgh, New York.
Erdman, Frederick 1791-1862 Philadelphia; Harrisburg; Lancaster; Alexandria; Frederick; University of Virginia
Geist, Clarence Henry 1866-1938 Owned the Indianapolis Water Company from 1912 to 1938 and the Philadelphia Suburban Water Company from 1924 to 1938.  Wikipedia entry
Gilman, Benjamin Clark 1763-1835 Portsmouth: Exeter: Boston: Salem: New London.
Goodhue, Charles Leonard 1838-1912 Water works contractor, built sixty systems with William Birnie
Graff, Frederick 1775-1847 Philadelphia; consulting on 37 other systems.
Graff, Jr., Frederick 1817-1890 Philadelphia; also engineered several other systems after 1872, superintendent in Philadelphia from 1847 to 1856 and again from 1867 to 1872
Hermany, Charles 1830-1908 Louisville; Cincinnati; Bowling Green; Frankfort
Holly, Birdsill 1820-1894 Manufacturer of pumping engines; inventor of direct pressure water supply; designed and built several water system
Jervis, John Bloomfield 1795-1885 New York City Croton Aqueduct; Boston Cochituate Aqueduct, Hamilton, Ontario; Brooklyn
Kuhn, James Speer 1853-1928 Founder of American Water Works and Guarantee Company
Kuhn, William Speer 1856-1944 Founder of American Water Works and Guarantee Company
Latrobe, Benjamin 1764-1820 Philadelphia; New Orleans.  Architect of the U.S. Capital and many other buildings.
Leach, Caleb 1755-1837 Plymouth; Boston, Philadelphia, New York City.  1797 patent for machine to bore wooden logs for pipe
Ledoux, John Walter 1860-1932 Chief Engineer of the American Pipe Manufacturing Company (1891-1920) for which he designed and built many water works for the company, later he was an active consulting engineer for many water works systems.  Obituary (1939); bio (1908)
McAlpine, William Jarvis 1812-1890 Buffalo, Albany; Brooklyn, Chicago; New Bedford; Norfolk; Hartford; Buffalo; Troy; Schenectady; New York City; Burlington, Vermont; Manchester; New Hampshire; Wilmington, Delaware.; San Francisco.  Also Toronto and Montreal, Canada.
Meigs, Montgomery Cunningham 1816-1892 Washington Aqueduct
Norman, George Henry 1827-1900 Built many water works; obit; Middletown, CT; Newburyport, Frnaklin, New Bedford, Lowell, Beverly, Lynn and Gloucester, Mass.; Manchester, NH; Newport, Bristol, Warren and Jamestown, R.I.; Seneca Falls and Hoosac Falls, NY; Frankford, Ind; Waukesaw, Green Bay, and Fort Howard, Wis.; also manufactured cement-lined wrought-iron pipes.
Prescott, Benjamin 1755-1825 Northampton; Albany.  Later superintendent of the Springfield Arsenal.
Scowden, Theodore Ransom 1815-1881 Cincinnati; Madison, Indiana; Cleveland; Louisville;  Dubuque; Newport, Kentucky; Sidney, Ohio; San Francisco
Stein, Albert 1785-1874 Lynchburg; Richmond; Nashville; New Orleans; Mobile.
Ward, John Frothingham 1830-1902 Jersey City: Hackensack; Providence; New York City; patented a widely-used flexible pipe joint in 1863.  Obit
Wiley, Solon Lysander 1840-1926 Built twenty-six water systems.
Worthington, Henry Rossiter 1817-1880 Manufacturer of pumping engines and water meters

2018 Morris A. Pierce