Documentary History of American Water-works

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South Central States
Kentucky Hopkinsville

Hopkinsville, Kentucky

Hopkinsville was incorporated in 1787.

The Hopkinsville Water Works Company was incorporated in 1847 by D. S. Hays, Geo. Poindexter, James Moore, Ben. S. Campbell, John McCarroll, James F. Buckner and Benj. Shackleford "to supply the town of Hopkinsville with water to every part thereof."  The preamble in the charter states: "Whereas, it is represented that there are four springs within about one half mile of the Court House in Hopkinsville, affording a sufficient quantity of water for the protection and necessities of the town of Hopkinsville."  No evidence has been found that this company built anything.

Hopkinsville voters approved a bond issue for free school on November 1, 1879, with the expectation that this would bring new growth that would soon require additional bonds for a water works system.  Two factions ran for the city council election December 13, the insurgents promoting a "Free Schools and Low Tax" platform, and the existing members offering "No Bonds and Low Tax."  The existing councilmen made some unspecified concessions to the insurgents, who then withdrew from the race.  A 1930 history states that a vote was taken on the water works bond proposition in December, 1879, but that does not appear to be the case.

In 1883, Francis M. Loweree and his associates proposed to build water works, which was approved by voters in December of that year.  A February, 1884 contract with Loweree in required him to provide 60 hydrants at an annual rent of $50 with a 25 year franchise.  Loweree, who had recently built water works in Knoxville, did not meet the deadlines established in the contract and it was annulled. 

The Hopkinsville Waterworks Company was organized April 30, 1887 and in July offered, in conjunction with a proposed street railway system to be built by the same investors, to build and operate "a Holly System of waterworks without expense to the city," or alternatively to enter into a contract "for a specified number of hydrants at a stipulated price."  The city accepted the street railway proposal, but deferred the water works and no futher information has been found on this proposal.

The New York firm of Hungerford & Company proposed building water works in November, 1887, asking for a 25 year franchise and offering 80 hydrants at $50 each, but they also required that the city guarantee them a 6 percent interest on their investment.  The council declined.

John P. Martin proposed to build an electric light plant and water works in the city in May 1892, offering 72 hydrants and 32 electric arc lights for $5,000 per year.  After negotiations, the city entered into a contract with Martin on June 13, 1892 and he proceeded to build the electric light plant, which began service on October 11 of that year.   Martin incorporated the Hopkinsville Water, Light, and Power Company on March 18, 1883 to take over the plant and systems.  In the meantime, several local citizens had brought suit against the water works contract, alleging that it violated provisions of the recent state constitution.  The local district court dismissed the suit, but the Kentucky Court of Appeals overruled that verdict and annulled the water works contract.  The boilers in the electric light plant were large enough to run the anticipated water works, and several attempts were made to move forward on a locally-owned system.

Jesse W. Starr, Jr., of Camden, New Jersey proposed to build water works in December, 1894, offering 100 hydrants for $3,000 per year.   The city gave him a contract in January, 1895 and he started work, but could not complete it and his contract was terminated in June for non-performance.

Shortly thereafter, the city received proposals from Samuel R. Bullock of New York, and Wilkinson & Smallhouse, of Bowling Green, but both were too considered too expensive, and the Bowling Green firm declined to participate.  Bullock, however, reduced his price and the council contracted with him in August for a 20 year franchise for 100 fire hydrants at $40 each per year.  Bullock then transferred the franchise to the Bowling Green firm and bought the water works franchise in Paducah, Kentucky.

The Bowling Green men organized the Hopkinsville Water Company and successfully completed the system, which began delivering water in January, 1896.  The company was purchased by a holding company in 1927 and was bought by the city of Hopkinsville in June, 1940, which set up a Sewerage and Water Works Commission to operate the system.  The name of this commission was later changed to the Hopkinsville Water Environment Authority.

Water is provided by the Hopkinsville Water Environment Authority, which has a good history page.

1847 An act to incorporate the Hopkinsville Water Works Company.  March 1, 1847.

1879 The South Kentuckian, October 7, 1879, Page 2.
The School Question. Vote these bonds and it will not be long before you will be asked to vote for bonds to establish gas and water works and other improvements.

1879 "Victory for the Bonds," The South Kentuckian, November 4, 1879, Page 3.

1879 The South Kentuckian, November 25, 1879, Page 4.
Free Schools and Low Taxes.  No Bonds and Low Taxes.

1879 The South Kentuckian, December 2, 1879, Page 8.
If the race for councilmen is to be made on the bond issue, each faction should go into a caucus and name its ticket.  As it is there are already four tickets named, and there will probably be a still greater mixture if some steps are not taken.

1879 The South Kentuckian, December 16, 1879, Page 8.
The city election passed on quietly Saturday.  Concessions were made by the old board removing the objections of the Free School men, whereupon they withdrew their ticket and the same was re-elected.

1883 "The Water Works Proposition," Semi-weekly South Kentuckian, November 27, 1883, Page 3.
We desire to point out some of the objectionable features to the proposition submitted by F. M. Loweree, and which the people will have the opportunity to vote upon Dec. 8.

1883 "The Water Works Proposition," Semi-weekly South Kentuckian, December 11, 1883, Page 3.
Mr. F. M. Loweree's water-works proposition was carried by a vote of more than two to one, the vote standing: for 407, against 185, majority for water-works 212.  This insures the building of the water works, as the Board of Councilmen will at once accept the proposition and enter into a contract

1884 "Waterworks! The City of Hopkinsville Closes the Contract and the Works Will be in operation by October.  The Substance of the Contract," Semi-weekly South Kentuckian, February 15, 1884, Page 2.
Contract dated January 28, 1884 with F. M. Loweree and associates, term 25 years, city may buy works at the end of 15 years at their appraised value, capacity 1,500,000 gallons per day, 60 hydrants at $50 per hydrant per year, water to be sold at 5 cents per 100 gallons.

1884 "No WaterWorks.  Loweree Fails to Come to Time," Semi-weekly South Kentuckian, June 17, 1884, Page 3.

1884 Clarksville Weekly Chronicle, June 21, 1884, Page 3.
The proposed scheme to build water works in Hopkinsville, Ky., has proved a failure.  The contractors, F. M. Loweree & Co., are unable to carry out the agreement.

1887 Semi-weekly South Kentuckian, June 7, 1887, Page 3.
The Hopkinsville Water Works Co., has offered to construct water works under the ordinance drawn up for Loweree & Co., some years ago and voted on by the people.  It involves an expenditure of $3,000 per annum by the city for hydrants.  Loweree failed to come in time and the new company proposes to build them upon the same terms.  The matter will be considered at the meeting on July 5.

1887 "Waterworks Postponed," Semi-weekly South Kentuckian, July 8, 1887, Page 3.

1887 "The Waterworks Proposition," Semi-weekly South Kentuckian, November 24, 1887, Page 2. 
Proposal by Hungerford & Co. of New York asking for a 25 year franchise and taking 80 hydrants at $50 each. Also asked for a guarantee  of 6 percent interest on its investment.

1889 "Hopkinsville's Water Supply. Facts and Figures in Favor of a System of Water Works," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, February 8, 1889, Page 2.

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

1892 "A Double Contract," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, May 3, 1892, Page 3.
The Council at its second special meeting on the subject Thursday might decide to accept the proposition of J. P. Martin, of Xenia, Ohio, to put in both waterworks and electric lights.  He proposes for $5,000 per annum to suppy 72 hydrants and 32 electric lights.

1892 "Closed the Contract," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, May 24, 1892, Page 3.
Mr. J. P. Martin, of Xenia, Ohio, closed the contract Saturday with the city council for waterworks and electric lights, in accordance with his proposition recently submitted and accepted.  His franchise is for 20 years at $5,000 a year, for both street lights and hydrants.  He is to begin work in 30 days and finish in six months.

1892 "Martin Contract," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, June 7, 1892, Page 3.

1892 "Knocked off to Martin," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, June 14, 1892, Page 3.

1892 Hopkinsville Kentuckian, June 26, 1892, Page 3.
A suit to test the legality of the waterworks contract recently entered into by the city with J. P. Martin of Xenia, Ohio, was filed yesterday in the County Court by E. P. Campbell and others.

1892 "And There was Light.  The Electric Light Machinery Started Saturday Night," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, October 11, 1892, Page 3.

1893 "Now for Waterworks.  Judge Grace Sustains the Validity of the Martin Contract," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, April 7, 1893 Page 3.

1893 "Now for Waterworks," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, August 25, 1893, Page 3.
Martin franchise transferred to Hopkinsville, Water, Light & Power Co.

1894 Beard &c., v. City of Hopkinsville, &c.,  95 Ky. 239, January 23, 1894, Kentucky Court of Appeals.

1894 "Waterloo for Waterworks. "The Court of Appeals Reverses Judge Grace's Decision," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, January 26, 1894, Page 2.

1894 Hopkinsville Kentuckian, March 20, 1894, Page 2.
An ordinance was passed releasing Jno. P. Martin from his $1,000 forfeit for not completing the waterworks, it having been shown that the Court of Appeals has decided against the city's contract with Martin.

1894 "Chance At Last to Get Water-Works.  A Movement for Water," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, November 16, 1894, Page 1.

1894 "Looks Like Business. A Water-works Contract Made With a New York Man," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, December 11, 1894, Page 1.
One hundred hydrants for $3,000 a year.

1895 "Hopkinsville's Water-Works," The Courier-Journal, January 16, 1895, Page 7.
Hopkinsville, Ky., Jan 15., Jesse W. Starr signed a contract with the city of Hopkinsville this morning in which he binds himself to construct and complete an adequate system of water-works for the municipality within seven months from date.  The citizens have been trying for twenty years to secure such an improvement.  Work must begin on the plant within thirty days else Starr forfeits his franchise.

1895 "Work Has Begun," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, March 8, 1895, Page 1.
Mr. Jesse W. Starr, who has the waterworks contract, started to work yesterday with 25 or 30 hands.

1895 "Waterworks Matters," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, June 4, 1895, Page 1.
Jesse W. Starr is about to forfeit his waterworks franchise.  The Council met yesterday and gave him one more week.  Jas. H. Wilkerson, a practical waterworks man from Bowling Green, was on hand to submit a proposition as soon as Starr is out of the way.

1895 "The Council Meeting," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, July 5, 1895, Page 5.
The City Council at its regular meeting Tuesday night annulled the contract of Jesse W. Starr to build a system of waterworks for the city, Starr having failed to comply with its terms and necessitated repeated extensions over time.

1895 Hopkinsville Kentuckian, July 16, 1895, Page 8.
The Council was expected to meet last night to decide between the two waterworks propositions, submitted by Bullock of Boston, and Wilkinson & Smallhouse, of Bowling Green.

1895 "Waterworks at Last.  This time is looks like a dead sure thing. The Deal to be Closed Aug. 6. Samuel R. Bullock, of New York, the Man." Hopkinsville Kentuckian, July 26, 1895, Page 1.
Profiting by its experience with Jones and Bailey and Martin and Starr, who one after the other have figured and flunked, the council some weeks ago passed an ordinance requiring a forfeit of $1,000 to accompany every bid an and addition forfeit of $4,000 to be put up when a contract is signed.
Mr. Bullock has put in twenty-three waterworks plants, including those in Paducah, Ky., and Jeffersonville and Vincennes, Ind.

1895 "The Contract Signed. Bullock Puts up the Forfeit and Water-works are a Go," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, August 9, 1895, Page 1.

1895 "Bullock Transfers His Franchise," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, August 23, 1895, Page 1.

1895 Hopkinsville Kentuckian, October 8, 1895, Page 8.
Sam'l R. Bullock, who sold the Hopkinsville franchise to its present owners, bought the Paducah water-works plant.

1895 "Now for Water. Hopkinsville's Splendid New Water Works Plant,"  Hopkinsville Kentuckian, December 10, 1895, Page 1.

1896 "The Waterworks Test," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, January 10, 1896, Page 1.

1896 "Insurance Rates to Come Down," Hopkinsville Kentuckian, February 14, 1896, Page 1.

1897 "Hopkinsville," from Manual of American Water Works, Volume 4

1930 A History of Christian County Kentucky from Oxford to Airplane, by Charles Mayfield Meacham, Mayor of Hopkinsville 1906-1914
Chapter 28: In December, 1879, the city of Hopkinsville voted upon a proposition to issue bonds to secure a water works system. The proposition was beaten and the council ticket opposing the bonded debt was elected. It was not till thirteen years later that the town was supplied with water works and fire protection.

1940 Lexington Herald, June 28, 1940, Page 1.
Hopkinsville Takes Over Water System. 
Hopkinsville, Ky., June 27 - The city today assumed ownership of the Hopkinsville Water system and adopted an ordinance maintaining the present rates.
All equipment of the company and two takes and a downtown office were turned over to the city, and it was indicated that most of the present employees would be retained if satisfactory salary terms could be arranged.

2015 Morris A. Pierce