Documentary History of American Water-works

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Pacific States
California Suisun City

Suisun City, California

Suisun City was incorporated in 1868.

The Suisun Water Works was started in 1858 by J. Carroll Owen and Robert B. Cannon, who were in the livery stable business.  The system distributed water from an artesian well through earthen pipes.  John “Ben” Payton bought the water works in 1865 for $3,500.

The Suisun and Fairfield Water Company was incorporated in 1866 and served these two cities.  Suisun City voted $42,000 to build new water works in 1896 and let contract to San Francisco Bridge Company in January 1897.

In 1988 the City and District made an agreement that formed the Suisun-Solano Water Authority,

Water is provided by the Suisun-Solano Water Authority.

1858 The Journal of the Assembly of the Legislature of the State of California
Pages 477-478:  STATE or CALIFORNIA, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Sacramento, March 31, 1858.
To the Assembly of California:
I herewith return to your honorable bod , without approval, an act granting the privilege to J. C. Owen and R. B. Cannon, of conducting water into and through Suisun City, in the county of Solano, and supplyin the inhabitants therewith.
This bill creates a quasi corporation, and confers upon certain gentlemen, therein named, the right to supply Suisun City with water. These privileges are granted in perpetuity, as there is no provision in the bill as to the manner in which the works are to be disposed of after the lapse of ten years. During these ten years, the right is vested in them exclusively. I have no doubt these gentlemen are worthy and enterprising men, but I see no reason why exclusive privileges should be conferred on them.
The general law of the state, approved May 3, 1852, provides for the incorporation of water companies, and denies to any company a right to supply any city with water, unless it shall be previously authorized by an ordinance, or unless it is done in conformity with a contract entered into between the city and company. I see no necessity for changing the general law by this special act, and hence I return the bill to your honorable body. JOHN B. WELLER, Governor.

1858 "Exportation," Sacramento Daily Union, April 22, 1858, Page 2.
The schooner J.A. Burr was to have sailed last evening for Suisun, with out 500 lengths of earthen water pipe, manufactured by machinery at the Sacramento Pottery, near the Fort.  The manufacture of this pipe is, we learn, becoming daily more extensive.  Its introduction into any new location is followed by an increased demand.

1858 "Earthen Water Pipe," California Farmer and Journal of Useful Sciences 10(2):165 (August 13, 1868)
This kind of pipe is now becoming known, and quite extensively used, to convey water under ground. So far as heard from, it has given perfect satisfaction, and been found to answer the purpose admirably. The cost of the pipe makes it the cheapest and best pipe used; and being made by machinery of the most perfect construction, it will make handsome joints and finished work. About one mile of this pipe has been used in Suisun City. It is also used extensively in Sacramento. About 1500 feet was purchased for Auburn. The Stockton Asylum use it extensively to convey water. Maj. Hensley, of San Jose, has engaged 4000 feet for water piping, and Judge Bliss, of Marysvillc, about 1500 feet. These are some instances of its use; and from the testimony received from various sources, the public can rest assured it is worthy their attention. We learn that the company who manufacture this pipe, and whose advertisement appears in our columns, will have samples, of various sizes, as well as their new fluted brick, on exhibition at the State Fair, and also at the Mechanics' Fair. A. K. Grim. Esq., of Sacramento, is the agent of the company, and will furnish every information requisite.

1866 "Water Company in Solano," Sacramento Daily Union, October 5, 1866, Page 2.
The Suisun and Fairfield Water Company are progressing in their labors. President Breck has made contracts for the tank, horse-power and windmill, in San Francisco, to be completed next week.

1867 "Incorporations for 1866," Sacramento Daily Union, January 1, 1867, Page 2.
April 28th - Suisun and Fairfield Water Company; 100 shares; capital stock, $10,000.

1879 History of Solano County
Page 299:  Suisun and Fairfield Water Company.  Was organized as a joint stock company, with one thousand shares of one hundred dollars each, on April 24, 1866. The officers, after permanent organization, were: Samuel Breck, President; M. Dinkelspiel, Vice-President; F. O. Staples, Treasurer; George A. Gillespie, Secretary, and W. K. Hoyt, Superintendent. There were five directors, from which the above officers were elected, except Hoyt. The remaining director being D. M. Stockman. The tanks, pumps, etc., were erected on land bought by the company, formerly owned by John Doughty and W. S. Wells, situated about one-half mile from Fairfield. Work was commenced soon after organization and completed March, 1868. There is a large “main” laid from the tanks through Fairfield to the south side of Suisun, a distance of 1˝ miles, and is made of cement, the smaller ones, leading to dwellings, etc., are iron. The present officers are: E. P. Hilborn, President; Lewis Pierce, Vice-President; Harvy Rice, Treasurer ; D. M. Stockman, Secretary, and Josiah Wing, Jr., Superintendent. The company have erected this year (1879) two new tanks of 10,000 gallons capacity, and one tankhouse.

1896 San Francisco Call, February 24, 1896, Page 6.
Now that Santa Rosa has successfully carried out its plan of establishing public water works by the issuance of bonds it is encouraging to read the following in the Alameda Encinal: "The proposition to bond Suisun for $42,000 to acquire lands, water rights of way necessary for the construction and completion of public water works was submitted to the voters of that town yesterday and was carried by a vote of 145 to 6. The present water supply, controlled by the Suisun and Fairfield Water Company, is inadequate and the people demanded a water supply to be owned and controlled by the town. Bonds will be issued for the sum mentioned, bearing interest at 5 per cent. Suisun has paid the present company $151,792 in thirty years."

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

1902 History of the State of California and Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California: An Historical Story of the State's Marvelous Growth from Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, by James Miller Guinn
Pages 1130-1131:  John M. Oliver, the present popular and efficient superintendent of the Suisun City Water Works, John M. Oliver, has held that important office since 1900 and during his incumbency the water system has been brought up to the highest state of perfection, and is at this time a thoroughly modern system, giving the city ample supply for every need.
In 1897 Suisun City purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land on Twin Sister mountains, nine miles northeast of the city, for the purpose of supplying the citizens with not only good fire protection, but a healthful drinking water. On this land there were seven live springs, five of pure water and two tinctured with iron. A reservoir covering about ten acres was built to hold the water, which was piped into the city by a three-inch pipe laid to a distributing reservoir, and a six-inch pipe from thence to the city. The growing needs of the place, however, convinced the authorities that the supply was inadequate, and in 1903 larger pipes were laid and the entire system remodeled and improved, making it up-to-date in all respects, and giving the city all the water required. It is provided with twelve city hydrants and as the force of water is sufficient to allow a stream being thrown over the highest building, a good fire protection is assured. Mr. Oliver was, appointed to the office of superintendent of water works in 1900, and a very large amount of the work of remodeling and reconstructing that has been done since has been at his instigation, for which he should receive credit. As the land owned by the city is very fertile it has been devoted to fruit culture and grain raising, the care of this being one of the duties of the superintendent, and from this source a handsome revenue has each year been turned into the city treasury by Mr. Oliver.

1998 "Suisun City grows roots around its businesses," by Kristin Delaplane, Historical Articles of Solano County, July 5, 1998
In 1858, The Suisun Water Works was set up and "prepared to furnish wholesome, fresh water to the inhabitants of the Suisun City and Fairfield."  Water could be introduced in any part of a building by pipe.  J.C. Owen and Robert B. Cannon, who was in the livery stable business, were partners in the Water Works.  V. Wilson, who had been Owen’s partner in the livery business, was also a partner, at least initially.

1998 "Suisun City becomes city of enterprise," by Kristin Delaplane, Historical Articles of Solano County, September 6, 1998
In 1863, John “Ben” Payton opened the New Meat Market on Solano Street in Suisun. That same year he renamed the market the Washington Market. He had previously had a butcher shop on the premises of what became the Snug Saloon. Apparently, he like to sing while he worked as was noted in a 1864 newspaper: “We love music, but when Ben Payton makes such an awful noise in the meat market we feel like pulling off our coat and gently remonstrating him.”
By 1865, Payton was partners with J.C. Owens and it was in that year that Payton purchased the Water Works for $3,600.

2005 "Fires and family life at the Water Works," by Jerry Bowen, Historical Articles of Solano County, February 13, 2005

© 2018 Morris A. Pierce