Documentary History of American Water-works

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Biography Walter P. Hanchett

Walter P. Hanchetty

Walter P. Hanchett was born in Livonia, Livingston County, New York around 1827.  He moved to Dayton, Ohio and sold coal and coke for some time.  By 1871 he was in the railroad business in Illinois, and spent several years building them in the midwest and south.  Somehow he ended up securing a franchise for a water works system in Niles, Michigan in 1877, but was unable to complete it. He secured another franchise in Alpena, Michigan later in 1877,  but his proposal proved to be infeasible and the contract was cancelled.  He made proposals to several other cities in 1878 and 1879, and in 1880 secured approval from Addison, New York to build a system on behalf of M.S. Frost & Son of Akron, Ohio, but it was not built.

Hanchett lived in South Bend, for a time in 1878, where his youngest sister lived with her husband, Edwin R. St. John.  Hanchett was arrested in 1880 for alleged fraud by the Asphalt Pipe Company (limited) of New York, which he had contracted with to supply asphalt pipe in Niles.  It is not known how this case ended, and Hanchett died in Kensington, Cook County, Illinois on August 10, 1882..

Walter P. Hanchett's Water Works Experience
City State Years Projects
Niles MI 1877 Franchise awarded in January, 1877, but legal and financial problems resulted in a new owner
Alpena MI 1877 Franchise awarded in August, 1877, but proved infeasible and was cancelled
Ann Arbor MI 1878 Proposal October 1878
Appleton WI 1878 Proposal December 1878
Yankton SD 1879 Proposal January 1879
Atchison KS 1879 Proposal January 1879
Hornell NY 1879 Proposal February 1879, representing S. L. Wiley &  Co. Hydraulic Engineers and  Contractors, of Boston, Mass.
Addison NY 1880 Franchise awarded in April, 1880 as agent for S. M. Frost & Son [probably M.S. Frost & Son]  A system was not built in Addison until 1889.

1859 New York State Business Directory
Page 527:  Porter Houses.  Hanchett, Walter P. 22 Front, Rochester

1861 Rochester Daily Union City Directory for 1861.
Page 163:  Hanchett, W. P., proprietor Corn Exchange, Front, b. Eagle Hotel

1865 Hanchett marries Eliza Carpenter in Dayton, Ohio, on August 10, 1865.

1866 Williams' Dayton Directory for 1866-'7 (October, 1866)
Page 93:  Hanchett W.P. (Post & H.) h 1 Webster
Page 146:  Post & Hanchett, (W. P. & W. P. H), Dealers in Coal and Coke, Office, 61 Jefferson

1866 "Post & Hanchett Coal and Coke Dealers," advertisement, The Daily Empire (Dayton, Ohio), July 12, 1866, Page 1.
W. P. Hanchett

1867 "Bemont Coal & Mining Co.," Belmont Chronicle (Saint Clairsville, Ohio), April 4, 1867, Page 3.
W. P. Hanchett, Corporator

1872 Last Will and Testament of Oliver Hanchett, deceased, submitted to Livingston County Surrogate's Court on March 18, 1872.
4.  To hold in trust as aforesaid Three Hundred Dollars for the use of Eliza wife of Walter P. Hanchett my son, the income thereon to be paid annually to the said Eliza during her life.  After her death I direct my said Executor to pay the said Three Hundred Dollars to my said son Walter P. Hanchett.

1872 Daily Albany Argus, May 9, 1872, Page 4.
Estate of Oliver Hanchett, late of Livingston County.
Walter P. Hanchett and William W.Hanchett whose places of residence are unknown and cannot be due diligence be ascertained.

1872 Second Annual Report of the Railroad and Warehouse Commission of the State of Illinois for the year ending Nov. 30, 1872.
Pages 392-394:  Report of the Carbondale and Shawneetown Railroad Co., for the year ending June 30th, 1872.
Officers .  W. P. Hanchett, Ass't General Superintendent, Carbondale, Illinois, Salary $100 per month.

1872 The Railroad Gazette 4:354 (August 10, 1872)
At a meeting of the stockholders of the Carbondale & Shawneetown Railroad Company, the following board of directors was elected:  W. P. Hanchett, Carbondale, Illinois.  The board of directors subsequently chose W. P. Hanchett, General Superintendent.

1873 The Cairo Builder (Cairo,Illinois), March 15, 1873, Page 4.
W. P. Hanchett of the Cairo and St. Louis railroad, is in town.

1875 Memphis Daily Appeal, March 25, 1875, Page 4.
Yesterday Alderman Henry Dent received a letter from J. H. Burke, of Arkansas, informing him that he had contracted with W. P. Hanchett & Co., of New York, for the completion of the St. Louis and Memphis.

1876 American Railroad Journal 49:1039 (August 12, 1876)
The Little Rock and Hot Springs Railroad Company, in Arkansas, have contracted with W. P. Hanchett for building a single track road from Little Rock to HOt Springs.  The work will be commenced on October 1, 1876, and is to be completed within one year.  The length will be sixty miles.  The cost of grading, laying the iron and completing the road in readiness for the cars will be about $500,000.

1876 History of Williamson county, Illinois. From the earliest times, down to the present, 1876, with an accurate account of the secession movement, ordinances, raids, etc., also, a complete history of its "bloody vendetta," including all its recondite causes, results, etc., etc., by Milo Erwin
Pages 81-84:  On this same day [July 24, 1871] the Carbondale & Shawneetown Railroad Company entered into contract with E. C. Dawes & Co. to build said road. On the 4th day of September, 1871, the Court, after reciting 'the order of July the 24th, which stated that the bonds should bear date of January ist, 1872, made an order that the bonds should be prepared in blank and bear date from the completion of the road, as they expected to have it completed before that date. Most people supposed that only $50,000 worth of stock would be taken when the road was completed to Marion, and but few of them knew any thing about the "contract of sale;" but it had leaked out, and by the ist of November, 1871, there was considerable talk of an injunction to keep the Court from issuing the bonds. The work on the road was progressing rapidly, and Walter P. Hanchett, the agent of E. C. Dawes & Co., became very, uneasy, and on Sunday, November 6th, 1871, sent out a special messenger to bring in the County Court. They came in next morning, and were, set upon all that day by Hanchett and his friends to sign the bonds and place them in the hands of a trustee to avoid the intended injunction from the citizens. Judge Spain and Associate Justice  Holland were opposed to issuing the bonds until the road was completed. Manier, was for signing them.
About dark on Monday, the 7th, Hanchett and his friends got the Court together in a room over Goodall & Campbell's store, and tried every way to get the bonds signed. About 12 o'clock in the night some one told Hanchett to send for R. M. Hundley, that he could get the court to act. Hundley was sent for, and when he came up town he went to the Lanier Hotel, where Hanchett met him and told him what was up, and that his assistance was urgently solicited. Hundley told him he would let him know what he could do in from thirty to sixty minutes. Hundley then went over and had a talk with the Court, and then went back, asked Hanchett what it was worth to him to have those bonds signed that night. He said one thousand dollars. He then drew a draft on the Carbondale Bank for $1,000, and left Hundley, who immediately went home. The Court signed the bonds that night, and delivered them to W. N. Mitchell as trustee, he first giving $100,000 bond for their delivery when called for. These County Judges were not bribed, as would seem from this story, because they are honest, conscientious men; neither did Hundley attempt to bribe them; he simply got $1,000 to use his influence. That they ought not to have signed the bonds when they did is plain; but it was an undue influence and not corruption.  Mitchell deposited the bonds in bank at Springfield, and at the December adjourned term, 1871, the President and Directors of the railroad reported to the Court their acceptance of the road as complete from the contractors, E. C. Dawes & Co., and the Court ordered the bonds to be delivered to the company, and received the certificates of stock of $100,000.

1877 "Water Works at Niles," The South Bend Tribune, January 18, 1877, Page 1.
We are pleased to see that out sister city, Niles, is to have a most perfect system of water works without incurring one dollar's indebtedness.  The common council of the city, on Monday night closed a contract with W. P. Hanchett, of Rochester, New York, which provides that a company composed of himself and certain others shall have the privilege of bringing water from Barron Lake into the city through a main not less than twelve inches in diameter.  The city agrees to take not less than 30 fire plugs at $50 per year each, payable semi-annually and this contract runs 30 years, the city, however, reserving the right to buy the works at the end of 20 years.

1877 Berrien County Record, April 12, 1877, Page 3.
A few weeks since we stated that Niles was to have water from  Barren Lake, the  city having entered into a contract with a Mr. Hanchett to furnish the same. From  the following correspondence to the Chicago Times in would be inferred that there is a “screw loose” somewhere:
“Some weeks since the Common Council of this city entered into a contract with W.  P. Hanchett, of New York, to supply the city with water from Barren Lake, four  miles distant.  The  details of the contract it is not necessary to give, further than to say that the city was to accept a certain number of hydrants, paying therefore a fixed annual rental. The signing of the agreement was at the time generally approved by the tax payers and citizens, and the Council applauded for their action, and Niles was happy in the thought she would soon assume another metropolitan air.  Pending the city election a rumor was circulated that this contract was not exactly as childlike and bland as bad been represented, and it was insinuated that it had been engineered in the interests of a ring.  In fact, it was asserted that it was a job to brace up private pocket-books with municipal credit.   One or two candidates withdrew from the  canvass, fearing to become involved in  the final settlement. The old Council now exhibit an apparent unwillingness to complete the business which they have undertaken, and the newly elected Council are unwilling to shoulder the responsibility incurred by their predecessors, and will not qualify until the last day allowed.  In just what particular joint or joints  the agreement is loose cannot be  exactly stated at present.  In any event, the affair creates considerable uneasiness among taxpayers.

1877 Northern Tribune (Cheboygan, Michigan), April 28, 1877, Page 1.
Mr. Hanchett, the man who undertakes to supply Niles with water, has ordered his four miles of 12 inch pipe from a South Bend firm.  He evidently means business.

1877 Detroit Free Press, July 12, 1877, Page 3.
Niles. The Mayor called a special meeting of the citizens to consider a proposition of W. P. Hanchett, President of the Niles Water Works Association.  By the contract made recently the company agreed to bring water from Barron Lake, a distance of five miles, and supply the city with water at a rate of $50 per plug for thirty plugs.  The new proposition of Mr. Hanchett is, in addition to the above, to erect a standpipe seventy-six feet high without any expense to the city, provided twenty more fire plugs, making fifty in all, be taken by the city.  The proposition has been accepted at a meeting of citizens with little opposition.  And now ground has been broken and the Niles water works are a sure thing.

1877 The Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan), August 2, 1877, Page 1.
Mr. Hanchett, president of the Niles Water Works Company, has returned from New York, where he negotiated the bonds of the company.  Work will be begun as soon as the necessary tools arrive.

1877 "Alpena," Detroit Free Press, August 26, 1877, Page 5.
Contract with Walter P. Hanchett, of Rochester, New York

1877 "Council Proceedings," Alpena Argus, August 29, 1877, Page 2. | part 2 |
Contract between City of Alpena and Walter P. Hanchett, Esq. of Rochester, New York.

1877 "Water Works," Alpena Argus, August 29, 1877 Page 3.
Contract with Walter P. Hanchett.

1877 Kalamazoo Gazette, September 6, 1877, Page 1.
Last week Mr. W. P. Hanchett, the contractor for the Niles water works has come to grief.  He was arrested by Mr. O. McKay, of the Bond House, for non-payment of board and a judgment rendered against him. It is stated that he left the city.  It the meantime what is to become of the water works.

1877 "Council Proceedings," Alpena Argus, October 3, 1877, Page 2.
Communication from W. P. Hanchett stating that proposed plan is not feasible.

1878 "A Valuable Invention," The South Bend Tribune, August 19, 1878, Page 4.
Water motor invented by Mr. Ed. St. John of South Bend

1878 "Doings of the Common Council," The Michigan Argus (Ann Arbor, Michigan), October 11, 1878, Page 3.
Proposal of W. P. Hanchett for water works, who is associated with Eastern capitalists.

1878 Berrien County Record, October 24, 1878, Page 3.
The committee to consider Hanchett's propositions to build waterworks in Ann Arbor reported adversely, has on the proposition, and Hanchett will have to seek another Niles.

1878 "Water-Works," The Appleton Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin), December 7, 1878, Page 3.
The city Council was to have a special meeting last evening for the purpose of receiving a proposition from Mr. Hanchett to supply out city with water direct from Lake Winnebago.  The proposition will doubtless receive careful consideration.

1878 "A Proposition," Press and Daily Dakotaian (Yankton, South Dakota), December 18, 1878, Page 4.
To Construct Water Works for the City of Yankton.

1878 Annual Report of the Attorney General of the State of Michigan for the year 1878.
Page 16:  The People of the State of Michigan, by Otto Kirchner, Attorney General, on relation of James G. Patterson vs. Walter P. Hanchett, David Brown, Lydia A. Brown, Benjamin F. Perry, Ferdinand Scherewood, John Kramer, John Aul, Henry Herz, Charles Henderson, Darwin B. Cook, Charles Taylor, Robert P. Banburry and George Hart. Supreme Court. Dec. 10. 1878. Authorized D. C. Holbrook to file information calling upon respondents to show cause why they exercised franchises of corporation "The Niles Water Works Co.," in Berrien County.

1879 Detroit Free Press, January 3, 1879, Page 7.
Thomas Gaines, who bought the Niles Water Works to secure his own claims against the original projectors, on Monday sold out to a company who purpose completing the work.

1879 "Knocking at our Doors," Atchison Daily Patriot (Atchison, Kansas), February 4, 1879 Page 4.
Water Works Wanting Introduction to Atchison.

1879 "Water Works," Hornellsville Tribune (Hornellsville, New York), February 14, 1879, Page 3.
A  movement is under foot to furnish the city with water works without any expense to the corporation, by a responsible company.
Mr. W. P.  Hanchett, of South Bend, Ind., representing S. L. Wiley &  Co. Hydraulic Engineers and  Contractors, of Boston, Mass., is in town, stopping at the  Osborne  House, and has been looking over the ground.  If satisfactory arrangements can be  made with the city in regard to the use of  hydrants the project will be carried  out. A large reservoir is to be constructed some distance from town on a sufficient  elevation to get the pressure, and the water brought  to the city in a 24-inch  pipe, and will be distributed in l6-inch  pipe  wherever a committee may  conclude may be desirable.  The  whole  expense  of  constructing the works will be borne by the company without cost to the corporation, and  they will be warranted  first-class in every respect.  The company has just finished extensive works at Tiffin,  Ohio,  and  South  Bend,  Ind.  Mr. Wiley  is expected  here on Monday,  and the matter will be properly laid before the city authorities. It is an enterprise that will have the  good  wishes of  every citizen.  We shall have  more  to say upon the subject as the matter is being  developed.

1879 "Judgment against the Niles Water Works Company." Detroit Free Press, March 6, 1879.
The Asphalt Pipe Company obtained a judgment in the United States Court to-day against the Niles Water Works Company for $8,707.

1879 St. Joseph Saturday Herald (Saint Joseph, Michigan), November 22, 1879, Page 3.
The People of the State of Michigan in the relation of Attorney General vs. D. H. Hanchett, David Bacon and others had miles.  The jury found that certain of the defendants never claimed, or exercised or used any rights, privileges or franchise of the Niles Water Works Company, and that D. H. Hanchett, W. P. Hanchett, David Bacon, Charles Taylor and Geo. Hart had exercised such rights.  David Bacon was given twenty days to appeal from such finding.

1880 Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, February 3, 1880, Page 3.
The case of the supreme court against the several members of the original Niles water works for the unlawful exercise of franchise, was recently decided in  favor of the people, fining the members of the company $1 each and costs of suit.

1880 "W. P. Hanchett, Formerly of This City, Under Arrest," South-Bend Saturday Tribune, March 6, 1880, Page 8.

1880 "Unprofitable Pipe Laying. Arrest of the President of a Western Water Works Company," New York Herald, March 15, 1880, Page 5. | also here |
Arrest of the President of a western water works company.
The Asphalt Pipe Company (limited), of New York, has caused the arrest of Walter P. Hanchett, late president of the Niles Water Works Company, of Michigan, in an action to recover damages for alleged fraud and deceit.  The warrant for his arrest was issued by Judge Lawrence, of the Supreme Court, and Mr. Hanchett was found at Livonia, N.Y., where he gave bonds in $5,000.  George M. Fuller, president of the Asphalt Pipe Company, in his complaint alleges that in January, 1878, Hanchett represented that the Niles Waterworks Company had a capital stock of $60,000; that it had a valuble contract to supply the city of Niles with water, and that the city would guarantee the interest on $40,000 worth of bonds to be issued by the company, which was perfectly solvent.
On the strength of these representations the Asphalt Pipe Company made a contract to lay 22,500 feet of pipe, payment to be made on instalments every thirty days.  Pipes was laid to the value of $13,820, on which there was paid $5,160.  The company failed to pay the balance, suit was brought, judgment obtained and the concern was sold out, but there still remains due the sum of $5,767 to the Asphalt Pipe Company.  Legal means having been exhausted against the Corporation, suit has been brought against the president on the ground of alleged false representations.  Mr. Fuller, president of the Asphalt Pipe Company, alleged, on information and belief, that Hanchett went through the form of organizing the Niles Water Works Company, of which he styled himself the president; that the company was utterly irresponsible; that its franchise was of no money value; that the subscriptions to the stock were not binding and that the company had no agreement with the City of Niles by which the latter was bound to guarantee the interest on $40,000 bonds.

1880 "Board of Trustees," Addison Advertiser (Addison, New York), April 8, 1880, Page 3.
W. P. Hanchett, agent for S. M. Frost & Son, appeared before the board to ask permission to construct water works in the village, which was granted.

1880 U.S. Census, Hornellsville, Steuben County, New York, June 12, 1880
W. P. Hanchett, Age 55, widower, Contractor

1880 U.S. Census, 3rd Ward, Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, June 13, 1880.
Hanchet, Eliza, Age 28, widow, Dressmaker

1880 History of Berrien and Van Buren counties, Michigan. With ... biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers.
Page 168:  Niles Water-Works.
Four miles east of the city of Niles, in Howard township, Cass Co., at an elevation of 106 feet above the city, lies Barren Lake, a body of the purest water, a mile and one-fourth in length by three-fourths of a mile in width, fed by springs. For many years past this lovely lake was looked to as offering the best possible supply of water for fire purposes and for general use of the city. Several attempts were made to organize a company for its introduction, but no organization was perfected until June, 1877.
In February, 1877, the Common Council of Niles entered  into an agreement with W. P. Hanchett, for the introduction of water from Barren Lake into the city for fire purposes, and for general uses. Under this agreement a company was organized on the 12th day of June, 1877, and articles of association were filed in the office of the Secretary of State, June 14th. During the summer the survey was made and the line definitely settled.
In April, 1878, the work of excavation and laying pipe was commenced in earnest, and by July two-thirds of the work was completed. At this time, the first company becoming pecuniarily involved, the work passed into other hands; a new company was organized, and not until the summer of 1879 was the work completed. The water is brought from the lake through a 12-inch main, five and one-half miles in length, emptied into a reservoir of 300,000 gallons capacity, and distributed already through about six miles of pipes. No city in the West can be furnished with such an abundant supply of so pure water more easily and economically than Niles.

1881 "Court Calendars This Day," Truth (New York, New York), April 1, 1881, Page 4.
Supreme Court - Circuit - Part I. - Before Donohue, J.
Asphalt Pipe Co. v Hanchett

1882 Walter P. Hanchett died in Kensington, Cook County, Illinois on April 10, 1882.

1882 "Estate of Walter P. Hanchett, Deceased," Jackson Citizen, October 17, 1882, Page 7.
Petition of Deratus H. Hanchett to be appointed administrator.

1889 "The Water Works Case In Which Niles Citizens Are Interested On Trial Here. Judge Severens," Kalamazoo Gazette, September 6, 1889, Page 4.
Jedge Severans holds that the Niles Water Works Company was an organization - to continue on trial to ways.
An interesting case in chancery was on trial yesterday before Judge Severens in the U. S. circuit court for the western district of Michigan, in the in the county circuit court room. The court is held here for the convenience and per arrangement between all parties.  The facts in the case are quite interesting, are as follows:  It is over a controversy between parties interested in the Niles water works company. In 1878, a company was organized and contracted to furnish the city of Niles with a system of water works for fire protection and domestic use, the water to be taken from Barren lake.  They organized what was known as the Niles Water Works company with a capital stock of $40,000 and intended to float bonds to be secured by a mortgage on tho property but in this they failed.  An attempt was then made to induce local capitalists to invest, and Frankenberg & Schneewind became stockholders.  All the formalities, it was believed, had been complied with, and new bonds were issued but the same failure to float them in the east resulted. Frankenberg & Schneewind became fearful that they, as stockholders might become responsible for the debt incurred and wanted to withdraw.  They had in the company $5,000.  There were $3,500 debts for labor etc., and not being able to get out they paid in that amount more, and took $10,000 in bonds secured by a mortgage.  At that time about $30,000 had been invested.  About this time the great water works boomer, names Solon L. Wiley, saw "millions" in the enterprise and began laying his plans to get control of the company.  He talked various methods but finally bought up a number of small claims against the company and secured on them judgments and execution and the entire interests of the Niles water works company were sold for about a song.  Wiley furnished the song and thus secured the title to the works.  Still there were other debts, the largest being to the Asphalt pipe company of New York City for $8,000.  Wiley induced them to bring suit in the United States court, and the property was again sold, Wiley bidding it in and thus securing a still better title.  Otto Kirchner of Detroit, attorney general of the state was then informed of certain informalities in the organization of the company and information was filed against the members of the Niles water works company to oust them.  This in effect practically killed the company and Wiley had complete control.  Frankenberg & Schneewind still held the mortgage and began suit in the Berrien circuit court to foreclose the mortgage.  The case was transferred to the United States circuit court and as above stated is on trial before Judge Severens.
Wiley claims that the company never had a corporate existence and had no authority to make a mortgage and that the property never had a value.  Judge Severens yesterday decided that the Niles water works company was a corporation defacto and as liable for its debts as though it had been rightfully organized; that irregularities of its organization could not collaterally be called in question.
The attorneys for the complainants are Col. Bacon of Niles and David J. Wile of Chicago and for the defendants, Hon. Andrew Howell and W. A. Underwood of Detroit.

1890 Portrait and Biographcal Album of Jackson County, Michigan
Page 735-736:  Derastus H. Hanchett

1900 US Census, Precinct E, City of Dayton, June 5, 1900
Hanchett, Eliza, age 59, born Feb 1841, widowed

1911 "Edwin R. St. John," The South Bend Tribune, March 11, 1911, Page 6.

1985 The Descendants of Thomas Hanchett, by Keith M. Seymour
Page 141:  237.  Walter P. Hanchett (Oliver, Sylvanus, Zacheus, John, Thomas), born ca. 1827, probably in Livingston Co., N.Y.  Census and deed records show him with a wife Anna and a wife Emma.  Howver, it is probable that was only one wife for in Livingston deed given 26 Oct. 1855, in the body of the deed his wife is referred to as Anna but the signature was for Emma.  In the 1850 census his wife was Amy, age 24.
HIs wife must have died before he did for in a petition filed in Jackson Co., Mi for the probate of his estate no wife is mentioned but given as heirs are, Sarah Fellows, Eunice McCrossen, Elizabeth St. John and Derastus Hanchett.  These are his sisters and brother.  No action was reported on this petition which stated he died 10 Aug. 1882.  No evidence of children.

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