Documentary History of American Water-works

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Biography Luther Emes

Luther Emes

Luther Emes (also known as  Luther Eames, Luther Emms, Luther Emmes, and Luther Ames) was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts on April 9, 1760.

Luther Emes (sometimes Eames or Emms) had been born in Sudbury, Massachusetts on April 9, 1760 and served with a regiment from that town during the Revolutionary War.  After the war he moved to Keene, New Hampshire, where he was a Major in the New Hampshire Militia and Coroner for Cheshire County.  He may have built an aqueduct that was operating in Keene by 1793, and another one in Lansingburgh, New York that was completed by the end of 1795. 

Emes and Abijah Wilder of Kenne (1752-1835) entered into an indenture of copartnership agreement in February, 1794 which may have related to building aqueducts.  Another agreement between the two men were signed on January 12, 1795, and another agreement between the two and [Jonathan?] Church was written on May 12, 1795.  Neither Wilder nor Church appear in any records of the Boston aqueduct system, but these agreements may have involved other aqueducts such as the one in Lansingburgh.  These agreements may still exist in the Keene Town Archives. 

On June 16, 1794, Emes submitted a petition to the Massachusetts House of Representatives praying to be incorporated to supply water to the City of Boston.  At a Boston town meeting the following February Emes received no objection to his plan, assuming that certain safeguards were included in the act.  The incorporation was approved by Governor Samuel Adams on February 17, 1795. His two fellow incorporators were Nathan Bond (1754-1816), a Boston merchant, and William Page (1749-1810), a New Hampshire lawyer and physician who would later build locks around Bellows Falls, Vermont. Page and Emes were both active in the New Hampshire Militia.

Emes had secured the rights to Jamaica Pond and several other properties along the pipeline route into Boston, which he transferred to the new corporation.  He was elected as a directed at the first meeting of the corporation, but only held this post for one year.  He was involved in receiving proposals for construction of the pipeline from his home in Keene, but shortly thereafter sold his home there and moved to Keene.  He became less involved in the construction of the aqueduct for reasons unknown, and in April, 1797 the directors sold his shares at auction due to his non-payment of the assessments. After this he does not appear in any records of the company.

Emes had owned a tavern in Keene, and he owned the White Horse and Rising Sun Taverns in Boston for many years.  He requested a pension for his Revolutionary war service, in which he stated that "he is in such reduced circumstances in life, as to stand in need of assistance his Country for support.."  A pension of $8 per month was granted, and he died in Boston on November 11, 1827.



Independent Chronicle (Boston, Massachusetts), January 13, 1806, Page 3. Boston Patriot, December 23, 1809, Page 3.


Luther Emes's Water Works Experience
City State Years Projects
Keene NH 1780-1796 An aqueduct was operating in Keene as early as 1793, but it is unclear who built it.
Boston MA 1794-1827 Incorporator of Aqueduct Corporation; secure land and water rights; installed pipes (probably)
Lansingburgh NY 1795 Built water works Luther Emes & Co.


References
1793 The Diary of William Bentley, D.D. Volume 2  January, 1793 - December, 1802 
Page 42-42: [August 1793] At 6 in the morning we set out from Richardson's in Keene for Walpole 14 miles.  At this house we saw the spring which runs under the Street & for a small expense is led to the respective houses & furnishes already water for his troughs, & is intended for every domestic use.  The convenience is hardly imaged till it is seen.

1794 An indenture of copartnership between Abijah Wilder and Luther Eames was executed Feb 25th.  This indenture had relation, as I suppose, to supplying Boston with fresh water, hereinafter referred to.  From Annals of the town of Keene, from its first settlement, in 1734, to the year 1790; with corrections, additions, and a continuation from 1790 to 1815 by Salma Hale, Page 106 (1851).

1794 Journal of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Volume 15, May 1794 to Feb. 1795
Page 105: June 16, 1794  A Petition of Luther Eames & others, praying to be incorporated for certain purposes herein mentioned, Read and Committed to Mr. Aspinwall, Mr. Bruce, & Mr. Carr.  Thanks to Ms. Beth Carroll-Horrocks, Head of Special Collections of the Massachusetts State Library, for transcribing this reference.

1795 Another indenture is drawn and executed between Abijah Wilder and Luther Eames, Jan 13th.  From Annals of the town of Keene, from its first settlement, in 1734, to the year 1790; with corrections, additions, and a continuation from 1790 to 1815 by Salma Hale, Page 107. (1851).

1795 Boston town meeting, February 2, 1795  Boston Town Records 31:382
The Petition of Luther Eames and others relative to the introduction of fresh water into Boston was laid before the town in compliance with an order of the General Court : was read, whereupon, Voted. That the Town approve of the plan proposed in the Petition of Luther Eames and others, for the bringing fresh Water by subterranean Pipes into the Town of Boston, and have no objection to their being incorporated for that purpose, provided that in the Act of incorporation they are held to put the streets, which shall be opened for that purpose in as good repair as they were before, and that such other Guards and restrictions shall be made, as will secure the Town from injury by undertaking the Business.

1795 An Act for Incorporating Luther Eames and others into a society, for the purpose of bringing fresh water into the town of Boston by subterraneous pipes, February 17, 1795.  Luther Eames, Nathan Bond, William Page.

1795 May 12 Writings were executed between Abijah Wilder, Luther Eames and Church.  Here the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct had its origin.   From Annals of the town of Keene, from its first settlement, in 1734, to the year 1790; with corrections, additions, and a continuation from 1790 to 1815 by Salma Hale, Page 107 (1851).

1795 "Notice of meeting of the proprietors," Federal Orrery (Boston), July 20, 1795, Page 310.  Luther Eames, Nathan Bond, John Marston.

1795  First meeting of Aqueduct Company at Bunch of Grapes Tavern, July 27, 1795 (BAC Minute Book, page 17)
Elected:  John Marston, Secretary; James Sullivan Esq, president; Nathan Bond, Treasurer; Directors - Loammi Baldwin, Charles Bullfinch, Joseph Ward Charles Vaughan, and Luther Emes Esqrs

1796 Columbian Centinel, February 13, 1796, Page 3
Take Notice!  The Boston Aqueduct Corporation, propose to contract for conveying Water, in subterraneous Pipes, to the extent of 15 miles.  The Agents to the Corporation, will receive Proposals from any persons that may be inclined to contract for that business; of any part thereof, until the 20th March next.
The Proposals must be forwarded, sealed in, and they must contain the lowest price, by the rod, for boring, fixing, and placing logs of the size of 12, 13, 14, and 15 inches in diameter, at the least end -- bored and smoothed with a smoother of 4 1/2 inches in diameter, two logs to be placed in one ditch, and so sunk as to have the upper part of the logs three feet below the common level of the ground, and covered in a close and solid manner; and the price of preparing and placing logs of the size 8, 9, and 10 inches in diameter, at the least end, having a bore of 3 inches.  Also, The price for completing works in manner aforesaid, with small timber, having a bore of 1 1/2 inch in diameter.  One log to be laid in a ditch.  Likewise, The price of the several kinds of work, where pavements are to be taken up and replaced in Boston.
The Logs to be furnished by the Corporation.  Any person being desirous to make proposals, may be shewn the route, in which the logs are to be laid, by applying to either of the Agents in Boston, or information will be given respecting the same, to any person, by applying to L. Emes, of Keene, state of New-Hampshire.
James Sullivan, Nathan Bond, Josiah Knapp.  Boston, Feb 13, 1796

1796 Columbian Centinel, April 20, 1796, Page 2.
In Keene, in the state of New-Hampshire, The House and Farm on which I now live; containing 20 acres with out-houses, within 50 rods of the Meeting-House and Court-House, being as good land as any in the county of Cheshire, lying in a square form, 40 rods on the Main street, well watered by nature in the lots, and by subterraneous pipes at the house and barn, and by a good well in the kitchen.
For further particulars, inquire of the Subscriber, on the premises, or at the White-Horse-Tavern, Boston.  April 13  Luther Emes

1818 Revolutionary War pension application and certificate for Luther Emes, March 31, 1818.

1827 Boston Traveler, November 13, 1827, Page 3.
Deaths. On Sunday last, Major Luther Emmes, aged 78, a worthy soldier of the Revolution, who became disabled, and a legitimate pensioner, by the wounds he received while opposing the enemies of his country.

1846 The New Hampshire Repository: Devoted to Education, Literature and Religion, by William Cogswell
Page 77:  Dr. William Page was born in New Fairfield, Ct., in 1749. His father was John Page, a farmer of that place- His early advantages for an education were small. According to an account given by one of his sons, he learned to write by the chilling process of tracing letters with his finger in the snow. He prosecuted his studies in medicine with Dr. Porter of Connecticut. Having completed these, he commenced practice in Williamstown, Ms., but soon removed to Northfield, and about the close of the Revolutionary War settled in Charlestown, N. H. Here he obtained considerable reputation and practice, but his disposition was restless and active, and his mind looked for objects beyond the routine of professional duty. He engaged warmly in politics and various matters of public business then going on. He became a Colonel in the militia, represented the town in the State Legislature for several years, and was afterwards a Senator for the district in which Charlestown was situated. In the time of the controversy with Vermont, he was Sheriff under the authority of that State. About 1798 or 9, he undertook the building of the canal at Bellows Falls on the Connecticut river, as agent for Mr. John Atkinson of the city of New York, and soon after removed to the village at that place and relinquished entirely his medical profession. The result of his undertaking was not, in a pecuniary view, fortunate for himself or his employers. He removed to Rutland, where he died at the house of his son, William Page, Esq., in the year 1810, of palsy, with which he had been afflicted for several years. Dr. Page appears to have been a man of good natural abilities, and of considerable extent of information. He was one of the original corporators of the New Hampshire Medical Society.

1851 Annals of the town of Keene, from its first settlement, in 1734, to the year 1790; with corrections, additions, and a continuation from 1790 to 1815 by Salma Hale.
Page 79-80: 1796  In this year, deacon Abijah Wilder brought water into the village from Beaver Brook, and it was used by himself and many other families for several years; but the logs in which it was brought decayed, and that source of supply was abandoned.  The exact spot where it was taken from Beaver Brook, is not remembered, but supposed to be just above the junction of the Sullivan and Gilsum roads.  It is remembered that the line of logs went West of the glass factory, and that the top of the rise South-west of the factory was about twenty feet lower than the source.
Page 106:  1794 An indenture of copartnership between Abijah Wilder and Luther Eames was executed Feb 25th.  This indenture had relation, as I suppose, to supplying Boston with fresh water, hereinafter referred to.
Page 107:  1795 Another indenture is drawn and executed between Abijah Wilder and Luther Eames, Jan 13th.
Feb 27th. Luther Eames and his associates were incorporated by the Legislature of Massachusetts into a society for bringing fresh water into the town of Boston.
May 12 Writings were executed between Abijah Wilder, Luther Eames and Church.  Here the Jamaica Pond Aqueduct had its origin. [Note: Church is not otherwise identified, but later accounts give his name as Jonathan, but he has not been clearly identified.]

1885 Gazetteer of Cheshire County, N.H., 1736-1885
Page 263:  Abijah Wilder, son of Andrew, was born November 28, 1750, and came to Keene, from Lancaster, Mass. He was a noted mechanic and a deacon in the Congregational church for thirty-four years. He died January 8, 1835. Azel, the youngest of six children, was a manufacturer of spinning wheels, married Elvira, daughter of John and Sarah (Eastman) Warner, and reared a family of ten children, only two of whom are living. Elvira, eldest daughter -of Azel, married Edward Poole, who died in 1847, and has one son, George Edward, a noted fancy wood-turner, residing in Keene. Elvira P., widow-of Edward Poole, is also a resident of Keene.

1897 Landmarks of Rensselaer county, New York by George Baker Anderson
Page 384:  The first water works in Lansingburgh of which any information is in existence were constructed prior to or during 1795. In December of that year water was supplied to all persons desiring it, from aqueducts constructed and maintained by Luther Emes & Co.

1899 Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, Volume 5
Page 144:  Eames, Luther, Sudbury. Descriptive list of men raised to reinforce Continental Army for the term of 6 months, agreeable to resolve of June 5, 1780, returned as received of Justin Ely, Commissioner, by Brig. Gen. John Glover, at Springfield, July 8, 1780; age, 20 yrs.; stature, 5 ft. 9 in.; complexion, ruddy; residence, Sudbury; engaged for town of Sudbury; arrived at Springfield July 8, 1780; marched to camp July 8, 1780, under command of Ebenezer Kent, Esq.

1904 A history of the town of Keene from 1732: when the township was granted by Massachusetts, to 1874, when it became a city by Simon Goodell Griffin, Frank H. Whitcomb, and Octavius Applegate (Jr.)
Page 297:  It was during 1794 that a copartnership was formed between Abijah Wilder and Luther Eames of Keene, for the purpose of building aqueducts.  The next February, "Luther Eames and his associates were incorporated by the Legislatuare of Massachusetts into a society for bringing fresh water into the town of Boston."  Further writings were executed in May between Abijah Wilder, Luther Eames and Jonathan Church, for building the Jamaica Pond aqueduct; and thus Boston is indebted to Keene enterprise "for the introduction of pure water into the town."

1908 Annual Report of the City of Keene; Containing Inaugural Ceremonies, Ordinances and Joint Resolutions, Volume 34
A Chronological Record of Events
Page 44:  1780. Dr. Ziba Hall was succeeded as tavern keeper by Aaron and Luther Emes.
Page 46:  1785. Lemuel Chandler sold to Aaron and Luther Emes five acres of land on the east side of the street, where the City Hall is now, but extending east to the meadow.
1788. Benjamin Hall sold to Luther Emes his land on the east side of Main street south of the south line of the Chandler House land.
Page 50:  1797. Moses Johnson bought of Luther Emes all the land on the east side of Main street between Dr. .Edwards' line and house lot No. 27, or the lot on which was the tavern formerly occupied by Dr. Ziba Hall, and later by Aaron and Luther Emes.
Page 54:  1785 to 1805 Map showing Luther Emes (#7) and Capt. Josiah Richardson's Tavern (#23) [Mentioned in 1793 citation above]

1956 Water for the Cities:  A History of the Urban Water Supply Problem in the United States, by Nelson Manfred Blake.
Page 64:  In June 1794, a group of investors petitioned the Massachusetts Legislature to be incorporated for the purpose of bringing fresh water from Jamaica Pond into the town of Boston by means of "subterraneous pipe^. This project had a somewhat curious genesis. The idea apparently originated with Abijah Wilder and Luther Eames, both of Keene, New Hampshire, who had formed a partnership earlier in the year for the building of aqueducts.  Wilder was a Congregational deacon and a skillful craftsman in wood; Luther Eames was an innkeeper and village capitalist. These two enlarged their enterprise to admit Nathan Bond and William Page of Lebanon, New Hampshire. Eager to build an aqueduct for New England's largest town, the group enlisted the support of James Sullivan of Boston, an ambitious lawyer, politician, and businessman, who was already prominently connected with the Middlesex Canal and other enterprises.

Boston Aqueduct Corporation Minute Book, held by Baker Library at Harvard University (cited as BAC Minute Book)






2018 Morris A. Pierce