Documentary History of American Water-works

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

Ownership and Financing of American Water Works
Wheeler & Parks

Wheeler & Parks

Wheeler & Parks was a Boston hydraulic engineering partnership founded in 1884 by civil engineers Charles F. Parks and William Wheeler.  They bought and built several water systems in the 1890s before dissolving their partnership in 1894.  Parks attempted to buy the Des Moines Water Company in 1895, but was unable to pay the notes he gave for the stock.

The Water Works Security Company of Massachusetts was incorporated on June 7, 1889 by Richard F.Barrett, William H. Bowker, Charles F. Parks, John H. Chapman and William Wheeler with a capital stock of not less than $100,000 nor more than $500,000 "to purchase the first mortgage bonds of bonds of any water supply any water supply company or water works corporation, company, etc. or the municipal water bonds, notes or scrip issued for the construction of water works by any city or town of the United States."

The Water Works Security Company of Connecticut was incorporated on June 19, 1889 by Silas Chapman, Jr., of Hartford, D. B. Spalding of Stonington, Charles E. Searls of Thompson, and Walter L. Wilcox of Norwalk with a capital stock of not less than $50,000 nor more than $500,000 "to purchase the first mortgage bonds of any water supply company, or water works corporation, or the municipal water bonds, notes, or scrip, issued for the construction of water works by any city or town of the United States."

The connection between the above two companies, if any, is unknown, and no evidence has been found that either engaged in any business.

Charles Francis Parks was born April 10, 1853 in Waltham, Massachusetts and died on April 20, 1903 in Sutton, New Hampshire. 

William Wheeler was born December 6, 1851 and died on July 1, 1932.  He designed the water system in Concord before moving to Japan for several years in the late 1870s.

Waterworks Built and/or Owned by Wheeler & Parks
Company Built
Bought Notes
Concord MA Town of Concord 1874
Designed by William Wheeler
Putnam CT Putnam Water Company 1886

Danielsonville CT Crystal Water Company 1886

Palatka FL Palatka Water Works Company 1887

Braintree MA Braintree Water Supply Company 1887
Sold to town in 1891
Exeter MA Exeter Water Works Company 1887

Belfast NH Belfast Water Company 1887

Stonington and Mystic CT Mystic Valley Water Company 1888

Berwick ME Berwick Water Company

Incorporated in 1889 but not built?
Hampton NH Hampton Water Works Company 1889
Aquarion Water Company
Derry NH Derry Water Works Company 1890

Cottage City MA Cottage City Water Company 1890

Portland CT Portland Water Company 1890

Knoxville TN Knoxville Water Company 1883 1890 Sold in 1909 to city of Knoxville
Paris KY Paris Water Company 1891

Winchester KY Winchester Water Company 1891

Ashland WI Ashland Water Company 1885 1891 Sold several times, to city in 1936.
Des Moines IA Des Moines Water Company
1895 Failed to pay note, sale rescinded
Pittsfield ME Pittsfield Water Company 1895
Designed by Charles F. Parks.

1885 Report of the Town's Committee on a system of sewers for the Town of Gardner, including the report of William Wheeler, S.E., of Boston

1886 "Articles of the City Government on the Water Question," Republican Journal (Belfast Maine), November 18, 1886, Page 3.

1887 An act to incorporate the Belfast Water Company.  February 15, 1887.

1888 Braintree Water-Supply Company v. Inhabitants of Braintree, 146 Mass. 482, April 6, 1888, Supreme Juridical Court of Massachusetts

1889 An act to incorporate the Berwick Water Company.  February 26, 1889.

1889 An act to incorporate the Water Works Security Company of Massachusetts.  June 7, 1889.

1889 An act incorporating the Water Works Security Company of Connecticut.  June 19, 1889.

1890 Journal of the Massachusetts Senate
Page 204:  February 6, 1890. A petition of the Water Works Security Company of Massachusetts for an amendment of its charter, to enable it to guarantee certain forms of securities

1891 An act to incorporate the Pittsfield Water Company.  March 17, 1891

1891 Gogebic Iron Tribune (Hurley, Wisconsin) May 30, 1891, Page 2.
Negotiations have been closed by which T. T. Flagler, president of the Holly Company of Lockport, N.Y., transfers a controlling interest in the Ashland Water Company to a syndicate of Boston capitalists represented by Messrs. Wheeler and Parks, of that city.

1903 Charles Francis Parks (1853-1903) grave

1903 "Obituary of Charles F. Parks," Journal of the New England Water Works Association 17(3):303 (September 1903)
Charles F. Parks, who was elected a member of the Association on December 11, 1889, died on April 21, 1903.
He was born April 10, 1850, and was educated as a civil engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After leaving the Institute he began .practice in general engineering work at Waltham, Mass., and later became engineer for the town.
In 1885 he formed a partnership with Mr. William Wheeler under the firm name of Wheeler & Parks ; the firm built the water works at Belfast, Me.; Exeter and Derry, N. H.; Putnam, Danielson, Portland, Stonington, and Mystic, Conn.; Braintree and Cottage City, Mass.; Palatka, Fla.; Paris and Winchester, Ky.; and also reconstructed the works at Ashland, Wis., and Knoxville, Tenn. The partnership was dissolved in 1894. Mr. Parks subsequently built the water works at Pittsfield, Me., but thereafter until the time of his death he devoted the greater part of his time to his private interests and to the care of his health.

1933 "Memoir of William Wheeler, December 6, 1851- July 1, 1932", by Woodward Hudson

1932 "William Wheeler, Once Engineer, Dies," The New York Times, July 3, 1932,
Hydraulic Consultant Was 81 Years Old -- Former Head of Sapporo College, Japan. WAS HONORED BY MIKADO Received Fifth Order of Rising Sun -- Member of Old Concord (Mass.) Family.
BOSTON, July 2. -- William Wheeler, for many years a hydraulic and consulting engineer with offices in Boston and one-time president of the Sapporo Agricultural College in Japan, died late last night at his home in Concord, after several years of failing health

1933 Memoir of William Wheeler, December 6, 1851 - July 1, 1932 : prepared for the Social Circle in Concord and read at its meeting on March 28, 1933

1942 SEC Associated Gas and Electric Corporation, order requiring divestiture
Page 11:  Hampton Water-Works Company N.H. 1889

2010 "Concord event honors William Wheelerís work," by Sue Curtin,
When Concordians turn on their water faucets, few know that it was a local young man, William Wheeler, who first brought fresh drinking water to Concord homes in the second half of the 1800s. Ironically, while William Wheeler is famous in Japan, he has been an unsung hero in his hometown.
Born at Nine Acre Corner in 1851, Wheeler served Concord well during his long life. Trained as a civil engineer with a degree from the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now UMass Amherst), Wheeler designed Concordís first waterworks, including the former reservoir on the top of Nashawtuc Hill, that brought fresh water from Sandy Pond in Lincoln. Later he proposed the plan that still brings to Concord water from Nagog Pond in Acton. Concordís first sewage treatment plant was the result of Wheelerís engineering skills. Among other accomplishments were his nearly 100 patents, some for electric dynamos, interior lighting and streetlights.

The William Wheeler Papers are in the Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

© 2020 Morris A. Pierce