Documentary History of American Water-works

Introduction Historical Background Chronology Geography Biography Technology Ownership and Financing General Bibliography
South Atlantic States
Virginia Portsmouth

Portsmouth, Virginia

Portsmouth was founded in 1752 and incorporated as an independent city in 1858.

The Portsmouth and Lake Drummond Water Works was incorporated in 1856 with Winchester Watts, George W. Grice, Thomas Brooks, Jr., M. W. Armistead, Robert Dickson, and Washington Reed appointed to sell stock "to convey water to the town of Portsmouth from Lake Drummond, or from some other point nearer to the said town."

The Portsmouth water company was incorporated in 1879 by Henry R. Worthington and Milton Courtright (1810-1883) of the state of New York; Washington Reed, James G. Holladay and William White of the city of Portsmouth; and J. Gary Weston and Marshall Parks of the city of Norfolk for "the construction, on any plan that may be approved, of reservoirs, force-pumps, engines, and any and all fixtures and appurtenances necessary therefor, and the laying of pipes, main and lateral, to convey water from Lake Drummond or from the Dismal Swamp canal, or from Deep Creek in Norfolk county, with the permission of the Dismal Swamp canal company, and for this purpose the said canal company is authorized to grant such permission, or from such other points as may be deemed most suitable into the city of Portsmouth, and to the Gosport navy yard and United States naval hospital, or to such other point or place in Norfolk county as the government of the United States may own and desire water to be carried to."

The company struggled for many years for reasons unknown, and was sold at auction on March 31, 1887 to its first mortgage bondholders for $81,150.  The new owners reorganized the company on May 12 as the company Portsmouth and Suffolk Water Company with Lebbeus B. Ward as president, his brother Charles Dod Ward as vice president, and Isaac Peck as secretary and treasurer.

On September 13, 1887, the Portsmouth and Suffolk Water Company entered into a contract with the city of Portsmouth to complete certain works for the supplying of the city of Portsmouth with water.  The works began operation  on May 5, 1888.

Northern capitalists reportedly purchased the plant of the Portsmouth and Suffolk Water Company in 1901 for $750,000, which was merged into the new  Portsmouth, Berkley and Suffolk Water Company on January 16, 1902. 

The City of Portsmouth bought the Portsmouth, Berkley and Suffolk Water Company on December 31, 1918 for $2,792,127.66, and later sold portions of the systems located in other municipalities.

Water service is provided by the City of Portsmouth.


References
1856 An act incorporating the Portsmouth and Lake Drummond water company.  March 15, 1856.

1856 An act authorizing the town of Portsmouth to subscribe to the stock of the Portsmouth and Lake Drummond water company.  March 18, 1856.

1879 An act to incorporate the Portsmouth water company.  February 15, 1879.

1879 An act to amend to amend and re-enact the second section of an act entitled an act incorporate the Portsmouth water company, approved February 15, 1879.  February 27, 1879.

1887 Engineering News, 17:241 (April 9, 1887)
Portsmouth, Va.- C. D. Ward, of Jersey City, N. J., has purchased the water-works, which were sold at auction on March 31, for $81,150, in the interest of the committee of the first mortgage bondholders.  The works will now be pushed to completion.

1887 Engineering News, 17:338 (May 21, 1887)
The Portsmouth (Va.) Water Works.- The purchasers of the Portsmouth Water Company met at Portsmouth, Va. on May 12, and reorganized the company by electing a new board of directors, and the following officers: President, L. B. Ward; Vice President, C. B. Ward; Secretary and Treasurer, Isaac Peck.  The name of the company was changed to the Portsmouth & Suffolk Water Company.  Steps are being taken to at once complete the works.

1888 Newtown Register (Newtown, NY), February 23, 1888, Page 2.
Isaac Peck, one of the oldest and most respected residents of Flushing.  Mr. Peck was born in Flushing, February 23, 1820, and at the age of twenty-one was partner in the dry goods firm of Hamilton & Peck.  For many years he was agent of the Home Insurance Company of New York on Long Island.  He was largely interested in the Portsmouth, Va., Water Company and was its treasurer.  The deceased always took an active part in all matters relating to the prosperity of flushing.  Besides his immediate family, the deceased leaves a brother, Mr. George W. Peck, and a sister, who is the wife of Bishop Paret of Maryland.

1888 Engineering News, 19:415 (May 19, 1888)
Virginia.- Portsmouth. The water-works were put in operation May 5, and the city was supplied with water from Lake Kilby, near Suffolk.

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

1890 An act to amend to amend and re-enact the second section of an act entitled "An act incorporate the Portsmouth water company," approved February 15, 1879, as amended and re-enacted by an act approved February 27, 1879, entitled an act to amend and re-enact the second section of an act to incorporate the Portsmouth water company, approved February 15, 1879.  January 25, 1890.

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

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

1892 An act to incorporate the Berkeley and South Norfolk water and electric light company.  February 16, 1892.

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

1901 "Reported Sale of Waterworks," The Baltimore Sun, May 13, 1901, Page 8.
It has been reported that Northern capitalists have purchased the plant of the Portsmouth and Suffolk Water Company for $750,000.

1902 An an to authorize the consolidation of the Portsmouth and Suffolk Water Company, the Berkley and South Norfolk Water and Electric Light Company, and the Nansemond Water Company, under the name of the Portsmouth, Berkley and Suffolk Water Company.  January 16, 1902.

1913 Phillips and Others v. City of Portsmouth, 115 Va. 180, June 12, 1913, Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia.

1919 "Purchase of the Water Supply," Mayor's Annual Message: Together with Municipal Reports for the Twelve Months Ending December 31st, 1918.
Total cost of $2,792,127.66.

1950 City of South Norfolk, et al. v. City of Norfolk, 190 Va. 591, March 13, 1950, Supreme Court of Virginia.

Papers of Charles Dod Ward (1838-1915) are held in the John Dod Ward family papers at the New York Public Library.




2017 Morris A. Pierce