Documentary History of American Water-works

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North Central States
Illinois Belleville

Belleville, Illinois

Belleville was incorporated as a village in 1819 and as a city in 1850

The Belleville Water Company was incorporated by George Corner Bressler, Asbury Harrison, Russell Hinkley, Frederick Von Schrader, Wm. H. Snyder, Nathaniel Niles, Alexander Kayser, L. D. Cabanu, William Davis, Thomas Heberer, W. C. Kinney, Simon Eimer, John W. Pullian, Edward Tittman, and Samuel B. Chandler "to supply with water the city of Belleville and the town of West Belleville, in the county of St. Clair."

The City Water Company was incorporated in 1885 and built works that pumped water to a reservoir and standpipe.

The Deep Well Water Company was incorporated in 1897 and built a competing system using water from wells.  The City Water Company sued the city for violating its monopoly franchise, but courts held that it didn't have a monopoly.  The newer company bought the older one, but by 1910 was unable to supply enough water from new wells.  The company was bought by the American Water Works and Guarantee Company of Pittsburgh, which also owned the water system in neighboring East St. Louis that was supplied from the Mississippi River.  The city agreed to be supplied from that river, which was delivered on September 12, 1912.  The companies were merged in 1916 into the new East St. Louis and Interurban Water Company, which later part of the Illinois American Water Company.

Water is provided by Illinois American Water.

1853 An act to incorporate the Belleville Water Company.  February 3, 1853.

1885 Daily Illinois State Register, January 24, 1885, Page 3.
New Corporations. The City Water Company, of Belleville; capital stock $175,000; incorporators, Henry C. Comegys, Samuel H. Lockett, H. G. Weber.

1888 "Belleville," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 1.

1889 Daily Illinois State Register, December 20, 1889, Page 4.
Wants a Receiver.  In the United States Circuit Court yesterday, the American Loan & Trust Company began proceedings for the appointment of a receiver for the City Water Company of Belleville.  In the bill filed it is alleged that the Water Company has made default in the payment of interest on bonds held by the Trust Company.

1890 "Sale of Water Works," Daily Illinois State Journal, June 25, 1890, Page 4.
The Belleville Works Sold to Satisfy a Mortgage. Receiver Madison T. Strokey reported the sale of all the property of the City Water Company for $102,000, to Samuel C. Eastman, J. M. Pendelton and Mr. Cook

1890 "Belleville," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 2.

1891 "Belleville," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 3.

1896 "The Jewell Mechanical Filter in 19 Cities - Belleville, Ill.," , Engineering News, 35:357 (May 28, 1896)

1897 Daily Illinois State Register, March 26, 1897, Page 6.
New Water Company at Belleville.  The secretary of state has licensed the incorporation of the Belleville Deep Well Water company, at Belleville; capital stock $200,000; to produce deep well water and operate water works; incorporators, Joseph Fuess, John A. Day and Adam Gintz.

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

1910 "Waterworks Sold," Belleville News Democrat, May 3, 1910, Page 1.
Belleville Deep Well Water Company sells out lock, stock and barrel to American Waterworks and Guarantee Company of Pittsburgh.  New company incorporated known as the "Belleville Water Supply Company."

1916 In the Matter of the Petition of the CITY WATER COMPANY OF EAST ST. LOUIS AND GRANITE CITY and the BELLEVILLE WATER SUPPLY COMPANY Relative to Consolidation, Securities Issue,, and a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity.  July 24, 1916. Illinois Public Utilities Commission, Opinions and Orders 3:146

1920 Belleville News Democrat, July 23, 1920, Page 1.
Builder of Water Works Passes Away.  Henry Leschen One of the Organizers of Belleville Deep Well Water Co.
Messrs. Leschen and Twenhoeffel retained their interest in the company until 1906 when they sold out to the American Waterworks Company.

[1951] A history of Belleville, by Alvin Louis Nebelsick
Pages 104-108:  CITY WATER
Just as in all other communities, Belleville, too, had no regular water system, but depended entirely on private wells and the town pump, which was located on the Public Square. The water supply was as good as nature provided and, with the public well on the Square, was sufficient for the needs in pioneer days.
All went well until the summer of 1854 when the rainfall was so negligible that many of the private wells went dry. To prevent the hoarding of water, the town pump was locked after a rush threatened to empty it. Many citizens objected to this so vehemently that one night the lock was smashed to pieces and a written notice was posted, declaring the pump to be a free institution, and that such "know-nothing proceedings," as that of putting it under lock and chain, would not be tolerated by those who love both freedom and water.
The demand for water continued to increase and in June, 1860, another public well was sunk on the Market Square and the water from it was declared to be of excellent quality.
The water of Richland Creek supplied most of the industries located along its banks, but it soon became evident that it was not the right thing to use in steam engines, for it sometimes produced dire results for the boilers.
With the growth of our city, it became evident that a greater supply of water was needed if we hoped to invite additional industry and then to keep its wheels turning.
In the past, many lakes had been built, additional shallow and deep wells had been sunk in the American Bottoms, but all of them furnished an insufficient amount of water and we were constantly searching for a greater supply. The deep well water came from a stratum known as St. Peters Sand and was of excellent quality but of insufficient quantity to satisfy the ever growing demand. Some of the wells at the foot of the bluffs contained water of an inferior quality and many berated those responsible for foisting this product upon the city as pure water. Even school officials contended it was unfit for pupils to drink.
Although Belleville never had a real water famine, there were times when the supply of water was rather low. Many futile attempts had been made before an unlimited supply of water was finally secured. The old story from the town pump to water from the Mississippi River is a long and hard one.
Many fruitless starts had been made for a more adequate water supply and company after company had been incorporated but they all failed, until in 1855 when a city-wide water system was begun.
In April, 1885, the digging of the trench and the laying of the pipe for the proposed water works got under way. To Edward Abend, president of the company, went the honor to head the elaborate ceremony held on the Public Square that marked the beginning of this water works. He also had the honor of breaking the macadam with a pick thereby starting the ditch in which the pipes were laid. In his address he declared, that for twenty years, he had been working for the very thing they were about to witness, the breaking of the ground for a water system. Mayor Herman G. Weber threw out the first shovel full of dirt and congratulated the people that what they had long before hoped for, and wished for, was soon to become a reality.
The new company constructed a reservoir water system in the Richland Creek bottoms north of our city. The storage reservoir had a capacity of forty million gallons, a filtering reservoir held one million gallons and a distributing reservoir held three million gallons. When these were completed, the city was very proud of the improvements that had been made, but as our city continued to grow and as more homes and industries were built, the supply again became inadequate.
In 1888 the company began work on the thirty-acre reservoir now known as Lake Christine. By 1890 the supply again became so low that factories were forced to close down during some of the summer months. In 1893 the company had a third reservoir, this one known as Lake No. 3, but today as Lake Lorraine, with a 70,000,000 gallon capacity. Lake Christine held 120,000,000 gallons and the first reservoir that had been built held 40,000,000 more gallons making a total of 230,000,000 gallons. These lakes, large as they were, could not cope with the growing demands. Then in 1897, the Deep Well Water Works Company was organized. It absorbed the old lake system of the previous firm and sank a series of artesian wells, 500 feet deep, at the foot of Water Tower Hill at the south end of the city.
However, again by 1908, a new and greater water supply had become absolutely necessary and therefore seven wells were sunk in the American Bottoms, near the village of Edgemont, and a pumping station was erected there. These wells furnished an abundance of water that was seemingly pure and healthful, but of such hard quality, that our people hesitated to use it.
By 1912, there loomed another shortage of water and a new source was again sought. It was decided in that year, that the Mississippi River was the only solution to our water problem.  So a water main was built, which connected with the East St. Louis Water Company. The pumping station at Edgemont was used to force the water up to Belleville's altitude.
The shallow wells, the reservoirs, the deep wells, and those in the American Bottoms, were all abandoned now and on September 12, 1912, our water system was connected with that in East St. Louis. Today we are supplied with the inexhaustible Mississippi River water flowing into our water mains.
The East St. Louis and Interurban Water Company supplies not only our city, but also eighteen other municipalities. Water is taken from the Mississippi River, opposite and below where the Missouri river enters it at the rate of 30,000,000 gallons every twenty-four hours, of which Belleville uses 5,000,000 gallons a day. The Company's purification and pumping plants are so arranged that they can be readily expanded to provide any demand which may be made upon them by the community served. Belleville has two supply lines, both twelve inches in diameter, from the Edgemont pumping station, which assures us continuous service. A stand pipe and reservoir provide storage facilities, and a tank also affords storage at Edgemont. The city is well piped with distribution lines and fire hydrants, giving assurance of water facilities and fire protection. The average pressure maintained at the pumping station is seventy-five pounds, but the average throughout the system is fifty pounds. The manager of the Belleville branch today is E. S. Tillotson.
Our city has also built a sewage disposal system adequate to take care of a population of fifty thousand as soon as the intercepting sewer and treatment plants are completed.

2017 Morris A. Pierce