WATER WORKS AND FIRE PROTECTION.
Mart L. Robinson and Frank Barclay teamed up in providing water to Winfield residents.
Mart L. Robinson.
M. L. Read, a banker in Independence, sold his bank and moved with his nephew, Mart L. Robinson, to Winfield in August 1872, taking a 9,500 safe with three combination locks. M. L. Robinson, cashier of Read’s bank, purchased the L. J. Webb residence in Nov. 1872.
M. L. Read wanted a modern bank structure built on the lot purchased south of the Winfield Bank of J. C. Fuller. Read and Robinson began searching in 1872 for brick masons as there were none in Cowley County. They found John T. Stewart, age 30, and James A. Simpson, 22, at Carthage, Missouri. John Stewart brought his family and brother, Archie Stewart, 35, a stone cutter, mason, bricklayer, and plasterer. The Stewarts and Simpson made their own bricks and were contractors on Read’s Bank, completed in July 1873. Material used in the bank construction was an extra quality of limestone rock for the foundation and walls of the basement. Brick was used for the main building and the front portion had iron columns to support it. The window sills were of white limestone rock and were capped with the same material. Folding doors at the entrance were magnificently constructed of fine material, and grained and finished in modern style; while the large windows on each side of the door were one solid glass, French plate, 4½ feet in width and 9½ feet in height.
On July 2, 1873, George M. Miller and John Myers, who had formerly operated a meat shop in Winfield, opened the St. Nicholas Restaurant in Read’s Bank building on the first floor (a full-sized basement). The second floor of the new building was occupied by the bank, which formally opened on July 10, 1873. The third floor was cut into rooms for offices, which were soon occupied by attorneys Scull & Michener; attorneys Pryor & Kager; J. F. Paul, County Recorder; John Curns, Winfield City Clerk; T. A. Wilkinson, County Superintendent; and E. B. Kager, County Treasurer.
[John T. Stewart departed in December 1874. Archie Stewart and James A. Simpson remained and were contractors for many of the early stone and brick buildings in Winfield and Arkansas City. Archie Stewart built a hotel in Winfield, the “Stewart House.”]
In April 1874 Mart L. Robinson was appointed City Treasurer. In May 1874 Mr. and Mrs. Robinson buried their infant daughter, Gertrude, in the Winfield Cemetery. In August 1874 he was elected treasurer of the school board. One of his brothers, W. C. Robinson, moved from Independence and took charge of the Winfield school in September 1874. Mr. and Mrs. M. L. Robinson were Presbyterians and engaged in activities to aid the society. Mr. Robinson became one of the founders of a literary society on September 22, 1874. In March 1875 he became a stockholder when the Winfield Cemetery Association was formed.
M. L. Robinson and his uncle, M. L. Read, obtained a large herd of sheep in 1875 from Missouri, keeping their interests in sheep-raising private.
M. L. Robinson and J. B. Lynn became members of the board of directors of the Ft. Scott, Winfield and Western railroad in April 1876.
In June 1876 Mart L. Robinson and his wife took in the Centennial with Mr. and Mrs. M. L. Read, leaving Robinson’s brother, Will C. Robinson, to handle business at the bank.
In August 1876 the school board engaged George Robinson, another brother of M. L. Robinson, as principal of the Winfield schools.
Mr. M. L. Robinson was appointed trustee of Winfield township in August 9, 1877.
M. L. Robinson sold his house in November 1877 to Dr. George Emerson. He chose J. Hoenscheidt to be the architect for his new residence in the southwest part of Winfield.
Frank Barclay, Plumber and Gas Fitter.
Mart L. Robinson, cashier at Read’s Bank in Winfield, was the first resident in Winfield to install gas works in his new $15,000 cut-stone residence, completed in October 1878 with gas works installed by Mr. Frank Barclay, a plumber and gas fitter. In 1879 Col. J. C. McMullen was able to light his new house throughout with gas, having jets in every room, from garret to cellar. He also heated his residence with hot air, using a system of warm and cold water pipes installed by Mr. Barclay. Mr. Barclay began to advertise himself as the agent for the Halliday Standard Wind Mills in July 1879, using as references hardware merchants S. H. Myton and Herman Jochems. Mr. Jochems was then located opposite Read’s Bank on the east side of Main Street. In May Barclay had installed a fine street lamp in front of his business house. In June 1879 Mr. Jochems gave the contract for the excavation of a new brick building at his current location. Mr. Robert Hudson moved his store building to the Kirk lot north of Lynn & Gillelen’s. Mr. John Hoenscheidt was the architect for the brick 25 ft. by 100 ft. building with a basement. The front of the building was all door (having three entrances, one at the end of each counter, and one in the center). Half of each wall was owned by parties holding lots on either side, which insured the erection of two more substantial buildings in the future. Archie Stewart and James A. Simpson constructed the new Jochems’ store, which was completed in September 1879. Barclay fitted the store with gas fixtures, and heating was handled by hot-air furnaces until November 1879 when Mr. Jochems installed a large furnace in the basement, allowing heating of each room with hot air. Ivan Robinson (brother of Will, George, and M. L. Robinson), who had been working in a hardware store at Trinidad, Colorado, came to Winfield in September to assist in the removal of stock from the old store to the new brick structure and act as the main clerk for Mr. Jochems, who all during the process of changing from the old store to the new brick facility had plagued him with illness. By November 1879 Mr. Jochems went east for rest and travel after Mr. J. L. Horning and Ivan Robinson purchased the hardware stock and rented the new building.
Barclay fixed up Mr. J. C. Fuller’s new 30 ft. by 30 ft. barn in October 1879 with gas lighting.
J. L. Horning started a grocery store in 1878. In May 1879, Horning (a miller of twenty-years experience), leased a half interest in Tunnel Mill from Harter Bros. Tunnel Mill became known as “Harter & Horning.” In July 1879 Horning & Harter purchased for $600 the building owned by W. H. Hitchcock on the east side of Main Street between 9th and 10th avenues, turning it into a flour and feed store. Horning sold his grocery store in August 1879 to Mr. R. M. Snyder from St. Louis. The old building was removed and a two-story stone and brick structure, 25 by 60 ft., was completed by October 1879. Horning & Harter kept their Tunnel Mill offices on the second floor. The first floor was leased to the grocer, Snyder. In January 1880 a first-class elevator was put in for the benefit of Mr. Snyder. In March 1880 this building was sold to Mr. G. W. Ellsberry of Mason City, Iowa, for $2,725. In December 1880 J. L. Horning, often referred to as “76,” decided to heat his house by steam and Frank Barclay accomplished this for him at a very trifling expense compared to the amount of heat received and the fuel expense attached. (Horning used a law pressure engine at the expense of half a gallon of water and three hods full of coal per day.) In addition to heating his house, Mr. Horning had a Turkish bath room for private use. The comment was made: “76” is one of the men who believe in enjoying life with all its comforts and blessings, and never begrudges a dollar spent in that direction.”
Barclay’s work allowed S. H. Myton to light up the addition to his store building with gas in January 1880. In September 1880 Lynn & Loose moved into their new store room, lighted with forty gas jets as a result of Barclay’s work.
In October 1880 the Opera House in Winfield was remodeled. Barclay’s work allowed the main hall to be lighted by two large chandeliers, of twelve lights each; over the stage were two rows of gas jets, with reflectors for throwing lights down upon the stage. The dressing rooms under the stage were also lighted by gas, which with the foot lights, made forty jets that were used in lighting the Hall.
In December 1880 Frank Barclay made arrangements in Kansas City to engage several plumbers and gas fitters to help him in putting in gas and steam piping in the Brettun House, which was being constructed in Winfield. It was anticipated that the Brettun House would contain about 1,500 feet of gas pipe, 1,250 feet of water pipe, and including that in the radiators, 3,600 feet of steam pipe—a mile and a fifth of pipe being used in the building. This estimate did not include the earthenware sewer. The Brettun opened in August 1881, featuring gas and bath rooms, with hot and cold showers.
The December 22, 1881, issue of the Cowley County Courant had an article relative to Mr. M. L. Read, president of Read’s Bank.
“M. L. Read has been adding to his dwelling house some modern conveniences such as are not often found outside of large cities. The home is thoroughly supplied with water from a tank above, and the rooms are furnished with stationary wash bowls. The improvements of most consequence are an automatic steam heating apparatus and an automatic water supply for the boiler. The heating apparatus is of the newest style and most convenient form. It consists of a boiler which runs a steam radiator in each room of the house, including the bath room. The radiators are small and take up scarcely any room, being of small size and standing close against the wall. The boiler will carry 120 pounds of steam, but only five pounds are necessary to thoroughly heat the house. The boiler can be set to carry any amount below 120 pounds, and the temperature is always kept between certain degrees by the automatic arrangement. When set at five pounds, the pressure can never get above that weight nor below three pounds. When the pressure reaches above five pounds, it closes a draft below the fire and opens a valve above; and when it reaches below three pounds, the operation is reversed, the valve closing and the draft opening. The boiler is furnished with an automatic supply of water from the tank above, a certain quantity shutting off the supply and a certain lesser quantity opening the supply. The fire magazine is filled only twice in twenty-four hours; there is no danger anywhere; there can be no freezing in the water pipes and the temperature is always between certain comfortable degrees. Mr. Read has about as near an automatic regulation of his household affairs as one could wish. All he wants is an automatic booster, run by clock work, to bounce him out of bed in the morning, and he has the acme of bliss. Of course, he might have a steam transfer arrangement for carrying hot buck-wheat cakes to his mouth while he reposes in bed; but this would be too soft a thing for Mr. Read, who is known not to be lacking in energy when occasion requires.”
The March 2, 1882, issue of the Cowley County Courant played up the progress due to Frank Barclay’s efforts, noting that on January 1, 1882, there were in the public and private buildings of Winfield in round numbers: 13,000 feet of steam pipe; 11,400 feet of water pipe; 8,000 feet of gas; and 1,600 feet of sewer pipe—a total of 34,000 feet of piping. Of this amount the Brettun House had over 15,000 feet. It also stated that the principal business houses on Main Street and several private houses were now lighted with gas, by machines with from fifteen to one hundred burners; and that in addition to the public buildings, there were ten residences supplied with hot and cold water throughout, with copper or galvanized iron water tanks, stationary washbowls, bath tubs, and waste pipes. The paper estimated that nearly one hundred marble slab basins, costing from $15 to $35 each, had been procured. They proudly announced that the Brettun House, Courant office, and the residences of M. L. Read and J. L. Horning were now being heated by steam: the two former by high-pressure boilers and the latter by low-pressure boilers.
M. G. Troup.
M. G. Troup, born in Ohio in 1841, came from Iowa to Tisdale Township in Cowley County, Kansas, where he was a merchant. When he was about twenty-nine years of age, Troup became the County Clerk in November 1870 on the Republican ticket and was re-elected two years later. Troup was a member of the city council in Winfield in 1875 and 1876. He bolted from the Republican party and ran as an Independent candidate on the Democratic ticket in 1877 and was again elected as County Clerk. In May 1878 Troup became a member of the Winfield bar. In 1880 Troup moved to the second floor of the new bank building that had been built by Col. J. C. McMullen of the Citizens’ Bank and J. C. Fuller of the Winfield Bank when the two banks were consolidated and called the Winfield Bank. McMullen became President and Fuller cashier of the new bank. Troup’s law partner in January 1880 was Allen B. Lemmon. A year later he had another partner: Lafe Pence.
In 1881 M. G. Troup became Mayor of Winfield and was a member of the city council. Prior to January 1882 he moved from his office in the Winfield Bank to Read’s Bank and by January 1882 had a new law partner, Frank S. Jennings, who was then the County Attorney. Troup was Mayor in April 1882 and was eligible to vote on matters along with the four city councilmen at that time: Col. J. C. McMullen, President of the Winfield Bank; M. L. Read,
President of Read’s Bank; R. S. Wilson, a partner of A. D. Hendricks in the Hendricks & Wilson hardware store; and Capt. S. G. Gary, who ran a furniture shop.
Winfield Water Works.
Mr. Frank Barclay was located in the basement of Read’s Bank in 1882, when he purchased from J. M. Alexander land east of Winfield known as “Alexander’s Mound,” located between 7th and 8th avenues. On Monday, December 18, 1882, after circulating a petition, Barclay approached the city council and announced that he and his associates would build water works in the city of Winfield if the city council passed an ordinance granting them an exclusive right of way, etc., pressing vigorously for passage that very evening. His proposal called for a reservoir to be built on the mound, which would be used as a basin for water pumped from the Walnut river and then conducted by mains throughout the whole city, the height of the mound giving the hydrants of Main Street a throwing capacity of sixty-nine feet. Some of the councilmen insisted on more time for examination of his petition. More meetings followed in 1882: Dec. 18; Dec. 22; Dec. 23. At a meeting held on December 26, 1882, D. A. Millington, senior editor, Winfield Courier, proposed an alternative worked up by Ed. P. Greer, junior editor. First ward citizens wanted action on water works postponed.
The city council met on January 15, 1883, and considered the Greer alternative by sections. A motion was made that the Council should accept the Barclay proposition with amendments incorporated in the Greer proposal. Mayor Troup joined in with Councilmen Read and Gary in voting for the new proposition; McMullen and Wilson voted against it.
The council met on January 16th and 17th to iron out amendments. At the January 17, 1883, meeting Ordinance No. 167 was passed. This lengthy ordinance stated that the right of way along the streets and alleys, and the privilege to construct, operate, and maintain a system of Water Works within the corporate limits of the City of Winfield, for supplying the City and citizens with water for domestic, sanitary, and other purposes, as well as for the better protection of the City against disaster from fires, was granted to Frank Barclay, J. L. Horning, J. Wade McDonald, W. C. Robinson, J. B. Lynn, W. P. Hackney, and M. L. Robinson, of the City of Winfield, Cowley County and State of Kansas, their successors and assigns for the term of ninety-nine (99) years from its passage.
The city agreed to pay $3,000 a year for 40 hydrants; $65 a year for each hydrant in excess of 40 up to 100; $60 for each in excess of 100 up to 150; $50 in excess of 150 up to 200; and $25 in excess of 200: out of which to pay the interest on the company’s bonds to the extent of the amount due the company for hydrant rents but not in excess of such amount. The ordinance provided that the city could locate the mains and hydrants and buy the works at the end of ten years and every five years thereafter at the appraised value of “the works, choses in action, property, and franchises belonging or appertaining to said water works.”
(This ordinance was amended on December 17, 1883, to reflect that the Winfield Water Company was the successor in interest and assignee of the rights of Frank Barclay and others named in Ordinance No. 167 on January 17, 1883.)
On March 1, 1883, Ed. P. Greer wrote the following editorial in the Winfield Courier.
“My attention has several times been called to a card in the Telegram of last week from S. G. Gary to the effect that I had offered him ten thousand dollars worth of stock in a water company as a consideration for his vote and influence in support of my proposition. The statement is a Democratic lie, pure and unadulterated, without the usual embellishment given to utterances of like character.
“As the gentleman has taken upon himself to draw so largely on his imagination for a question of fact, I may be pardoned for briefly referring to his official action in the water-works matter—a thing I have refrained from doing thus far only through the personal solicitation of his friends.
“When the Barclay ordinance was first proposed, I thought it was a steal. When I learned its origin and studied its provisions, suspicion became conviction. Observation had taught me that faith without works accomplished little—especially when combated by wealth and the prestige of success. To defeat the proposition with three of the council pronounced in favor of water-works, was out of the question. A better proposition must be secured, and that speedily. On Tuesday evening the Barclay ordinance had been passed by sections, and adjournment was had until next Monday evening, when the question of final passage would come up. In the four succeeding days I traveled a thousand miles, secured the backing and necessary data for a proposition infinitely better for the city, and broke the Sabbath day getting the papers in shape to lay before the council. I did this at my own volition and at my own expense. When the council met on Monday evening and my banker friend had gathered himself there to carry away the spoils, my proposition was presented. It was received with derision and sneers by Mr. Robinson and his co-laborers—that gentleman going so far as to assert that it was simply a ruse to defeat, and that no man could build the works under such a proposition.
“Up to this time Mr. Gary had been the sturdy defender of the city’s interests. Messrs. Wilson and McMullen declared themselves in favor of water-works on the best terms that could be had. Mr. Read’s position was conceded to be for it, regardless of the interests of the city, while Mr. Troup acted but at the beck and call of M. L. Robinson.
“During the pendency of the question, I interviewed all of the council except Mr. Read. Councilmen McMullen and Wilson unhesitatingly said that my proposition was much the best and they would support it until a better one was offered. Mr. Gary said he wanted to ‘investigate,’ and when I put the question squarely to him whether he would support my proposition until a better one was offered, he evaded it by saying he would ‘support the best one.’ I had unbounded confidence in his integrity as a man and an officer, believed that he meant what he said, and did not question him farther. In this I erred. Others who had less confidence than I in integrity and official honor, were at work. Sunday evening a caucus was held and plans laid to ‘fix Gary.’ What those plans were I do not know, but they were eminently successful, and the results were clearly apparent at the council meeting on the following evening. Mr. Robinson then appeared with his ordinance modified to cover some of the salient improvements in mine and Gary seemed to be supporting him.
“On Tuesday evening Mr. Robinson had further modified his ordinance until it embraced exactly the same material provisions contained in mine. I then reduced my proposition, making the terms of the franchise sixty years instead of ninety-nine, and the price on extension hydrants sixty-five instead of seventy-five dollars, making a better proposition for the city than any that had been presented by possibly five thousand dollars.
“In this shape the two propositions were placed before the council in committee of the whole. Before a vote was taken, Mr. Gary rose up and said that he wished to ‘explain himself.’ That he considered the two propositions about equal, but that the Robinson proposition had a little the best financial backing, and for that reason he should vote for it. I then told him that I would quiet his fears on that score and produced a paper signed by citizens representing probably two hundred thousand dollars of capital, guaranteeing the erection of the works under my ordinance if accepted by the council. In a rather confused manner Mr. Gary replied that ‘it was too late as he had indicated how he intended to vote.’ I told him he was supposed to be acting in the interest of the city, had not yet voted, and would be expected to cast his vote for the best proposition regardless of any previous condition of mind. The question was called, Messrs. Gary and Read voted for the Robinson ordinance and Messrs. Wilson and McMullen against. Mr. Troup, after a lengthy apology for so doing, cast the tie for Robinson, and the council adjourned.
“On the next evening the council again met for the consideration and final passage of the ordinance. Mr. McMullen was absent. When they came to the section relating to extension hydrants, Mr. Wilson moved to amend by making the price sixty-five instead of seventy-five dollars each, and stated that while he did not wish to obtrude his ideas upon the council, he must insist upon this reduction, as Mr. Greer had offered to do it for that and a contract for a higher price would never receive his vote. Mr. Gary would not second the motion. Without Mr. Wilson’s vote, in the absence of Mr. McMullen, the ordinance could not pass, and after an hours’ wrangle, Robinson consented to allow the reduction; and then, and not till then, did Mr. Gary consent to vote in the interests of the people whom he pretended to represent, as against the man whom he evidently was doing his utmost to assist.
“Mr. Wilson, by his firm and determined stand, forced Robinson & Co., to consent that Gary should vote for the reduction.
“The ordinance as finally passed is exactly the same in every material point as the one I proposed, with the exception of the term of franchise, which in mine was reduced thirty-nine years.
“That some subtle influence guided Mr. Gary’s actions in the matter, no sensible man will deny. What that influence was, no one but Mr. Gary and those interested will ever know. The facts will remain, however, and he will be regarded with distrust that it will take years of penance to remove.
“The result of the water-works was not a disappointment to me. Mr. Gary’s action was. I had always regarded him in the highest estimation and felt that his spirit of fairness, aside from his duty as an officer, would accord any citizen the common courtesy which a bidder at a street corner auction never fails to receive—namely, the precedence of bid until a better offer is made. When I found that he, too, could be suborned to act in the interests of a Shylock, regardless of every principle of justice, fairness, and his duty, I was painfully surprised and disgusted.
“Mr. Gary claims to publish this card in order to refute certain ‘innuendoes’ which have appeared in this paper against him. If any innuendoes appeared, it was at least five weeks ago. Since that time the assassin’s bullet has taken from our midst a true, noble, honest officer—one whose highest aim was to serve the people faithfully and well, and who would have scorned to do a questionable act. While his remains lay yet unburied, surrounded by weeping kindred and embalmed in the heartfelt grief of thousands of sympathizing friends, seventeen persons met at the call of men whom Mr. Gary’s action had most benefitted, and nine of them decided upon him as a fit and proper person to fill the dead sheriff’s place. One of the parties went immediately to Topeka, urged the appointment, and succeeded in having it made. The intelligence was conveyed by telegraph to M. L. Robinson, which telegram he exultingly displayed to me and industriously exhibited upon the streets.
“Mr. Gary holds the office of sheriff of this county by virtue of his action in the water-works matter. Under such circumstances it is meet that he continue to do the master’s bidding. He seems to have treasured up his righteous indignation for five long weeks, during which time the changes above referred to have taken place, and during which time the COURIER, aided by the people of this city and county, have been making it exceedingly warm for his benefactor.
“It is but consistent that he do all he can, even to the sacrifice of his little remaining character, to assist in diverting public attention from a much abused subject. In the roll he has been following, this action is much more creditable to him than any he has yet attempted. I must at least accord him the one virtue of gratitude. If this seeming virtue proves but a cloak for avarice, then I know not where to turn for another. ED. P. GREER.”
[Sheriff A. T. Shenneman died on Thursday, January 25, 1883, after being fatally shot by Charles Cobb. Cobb was taken from the jail by a masked group of men and hanged from a railroad bridge. Sheriff Shenneman’s funeral took place on Sunday, January 28, 1883. S. G. Gary was appointed by Governor Glick as Sheriff of Cowley County on Saturday, February 3, 1883.]
A reporter from the Emporia Republican stated that a contract was let in May 1883 for six and a half miles of cast iron pipe to be laid, connecting with a reservoir of 2,000,000 gallons capacity, supplied by a Worthington pump. His report indicated that the reservoir was 108 feet above the level of Main Street and that the cost would be about $75,000. In December 1884 the “Real Estate News,” a publication put out by two Winfield men, Harris & Clark, indicated that the mound was 150 feet above the city and that the capacity of the reservoir was 2,500,000 gallons.
James Conner, contractor, started work on the reservoir in October 1883, engaging about thirty men and ten teams. Work was completed and the water turned in by mid-December 1883. In January 1884 the reservoir was frozen with ice twelve inches thick. A man was kept busy keeping the ice open and relieving the strain upon the walls when the thermometer registered ten degrees below zero. In January it was announced that the water works were completed and ready for a test on or before January 15, 1884. The Winfield Water Company cemented the reservoir in October 1884, making it tight and substantial as a cistern.
Location of Pumping House Created Problems.
The ordinance called for an engine house built of either brick or stone and roofed with metal, not less than 24 by 40 feet, containing a pump and boiler room, and a coal shed capable of storing 25 tons of coal. The boiler had to be of sufficient size to make with easy firing ample steam to supply the pumping through the connecting main of one million gallons of water into the reservoir in twenty-four hours, the reservoir capable of storing not less than two million gallons of water. The original pipe system was to be not less than five miles with 1270 feet of main, composed of standard iron water pipe varying in size from ten inches to four inches in diameter with six-inch post and two and one-half inch double discharge with frost jackets with four inch connection.
The waterworks company changed the location for the pumping house in March 1883, purchasing ground near the Santa Fe depot. This movement was rebuked inasmuch as the ordinance called for the location to be above the sewerage of the city. In May 1883 a contract was let to Russell & Alexander to take water direct from the river above Bliss & Wood’s flour mill. A request from M. L. Robinson, President of the “Winfield Water Company,” was presented by their attorney, J. Wade McDonald, to the city council to condemn in the name of the City of Winfield, the right to perpetually divest from the Walnut River, at a point thereon northwest of the north end of Walton Street, of said city, all such quantity or quantities of water as may be necessary to enable the Winfield Water Company, its successors or assigns, to supply the said City of Winfield and the inhabitants thereof, with water, in pursuance with the provisions of section 14 of ordinance 167. The council presented a petition to Judge Torrance requesting the appointment of three commissioners to lay off and condemn to the use of the city the right to forever divest from the Walnut River at a point thereon northwest of the present north end of Walton Street of said city, so much of the water of and from said stream as may or shall be or become necessary to forever supply from day to day and from year to year said city and the inhabitants thereof with an abundance of water for the extinguishment of fires and for domestic, sanitary, and other purposes as specified and provided for in and by ordinance numbered 167, of said city.
In July 1883 County Commissioners Gale, Burden, and Sleeth, appointed to condemn the water privilege for the Winfield Water Company, made an award of $20 to Bliss & Wood as their share of the damage and $20 to the Tunnel Mill. The mill owners were not present to forward their claims, and it was believed that they would contest this in the courts. Bliss & Wood brought action against the water company in January 1884, restraining them from taking water from their Mill pond. The demurrer was argued in district court in late January 1884 by McDermott & Johnson for the plaintiff and J. Wade McDonald for the defendant.
In February 1884 Judge Torrance rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, Bliss & Wood, pointing out that if the legislature had intended that the power of eminent domain should be invoked in aid of water works to be constructed by private water corporations, it would have delegated the right to exercise such power to such corporations themselves, or to some other agency empowered to act on their behalf. The legislature had omitted to do so, which was satisfactory evidence that it did not intend to delegate the power in such cases.
In March 1884 the litigation between Bliss & Wood and the Winfield Water Company ended in a compromise, the water company paying $10,000 for a water franchise of 99 years.
Winfield Fire Department.
On June 17, 1874, the first action taken toward fighting fire was a resolution passed by the Winfield City Council to procure six ladders to be placed at different business places along Main Street, where the use of water buckets can be had. Under control of the City Marshal, said ladders were the property of the city, to be used in case of fire. In 1874 there was one public well in Winfield on which $15.88 was spent in 1875 for repairs. The other 49 wells in Winfield in 1875 were privately owned, all of a uniform depth of about 22 feet.
On Monday night, January 31, 1876, the cry of fire rang through the streets about 9:00 p.m. during a time when the wind was blowing a gale. A blaze from the top of the Lagonda House was soon viewed coming from a chimney that was hidden by the observatory on top of the building. With ladders and water buckets the roof was soon mounted and the fire was put out. The city council advertised for sealed bids for the sinking and walling of two public wells to be located on Main street between 8th and 9th at its February 21, 1876, meeting. Evidently the bids were too high as the council postponed taking action.
In May 1876 the Courier reported: “If there had been a fire in town lately, what fun there would have been hunting up the city ladders and buckets. The painters have left them scattered over town. The buckets are used for slop. We hope none of the city council will have any buildings ignited.” The city council paid $1.75 to C. A. Bliss & Co. for rope for the public well in June 1876 and $.90 in September 1876.
Residents and business houses in Winfield continued hiring well diggers to sink private wells, such as Mr. C. H. Kingsbury, who it was claimed could make a hole in the ground deeper and in a shorter time than any set of well diggers ever seen wielding the spade after he put a well in on James P. Short’s lot just opposite the Courier office in late October 1876, getting the well walled half-way up by dark and calling for a pump the next morning.
On September 4, 1876, A. B. Lemmon and C. A. Bliss composed the committee on fire department. They recommended that the City Council take immediate steps to procure a “Little Giant” chemical engine, two dozen rubber buckets, one two-wheel truck for ladders, and the necessary equipage for a hook and ladder company; securing a convenient and safe place to keep the engine and apparatus, which would be maintained by the city marshal.
The fire committee were instructed by the city council to purchase one “Little Giant” chemical engine, No. 3, also one dozen rubber buckets for the use of the city. The committee was instructed to ascertain the cost of a truck, with hooks, axes, ladders, and all necessary equipage, to be gotten up and purchased locally. They were also instructed to find a suitable room, and report at the next meeting where an engine and equipage could be kept safe. The council instructed the city attorney to prepare an ordinance providing for the organization of a city fire company.
At the city council meeting on October 3, 1876, the fire department committee reported that they could secure a room for the safe-keeping of an engine, and that, in their opinion, a truck and equipage could be built at home for less money than obtaining one from New York. The committee were instructed to have a truck built and furnish the same with axes, poles, and necessary equipage.
The “Little Giant.”
At its November 7, 1876, meeting, the city council appointed T. B. Myers, J. P. Short, and R. B. Pratt as a committee to test the new fire engine when it arrived and to report to the council the best manner in which to organize and conduct a city fire company.The City Clerk was instructed to draw a warrant on the Treasurer for $20.58 freight on the fire engine. George Brown was paid 75 cents for repairing the city ladders. The fire department committee were ordered to procure a place for safekeeping of the fire department. The City Clerk was instructed to draw a warrant on the Treasurer for $20.58 freight paid on the fire engine. George Brown was paid 75 cents for repairing the city ladders.
The “Little Giant,” referred to as a “fire extinguisher,” arrived in November 1876. It was run by hand, throwing a chemical fluid that was supposed to put out any blaze except a “fire in the rear.” It cost $500, which included delivery to Winfield complete with buckets and ladders to suit. The public was informed that the “Little Giant” was purchased with the proceeds of the 1876 saloon license, and not by a direct tax upon any citizen.
The December 7, 1876, issue of the Winfield Courier reported use of the “Little Giant.”
“The alarm of ‘fire!’ rang out on the air Tuesday morning and in a few moments hundreds of our citizens were hurrying in the direction of the smoke, which was found to issue from the roof of Wilson’s building at the corner of Millington street and 11th avenue. There being three or four wells in the immediate vicinity and plenty of buckets in willing hands, the flames were prevented from making much headway till the ‘Little Giant’ appeared, when in a few moments they were in perfect subjection. Meantime the doors, windows, furniture, and paraphernalia belonging to the occupant, John Easton, were taken out and placed beyond reach of the fire. The roof of the house being dry and a light wind blowing from the south, considerable damage was done to the building, estimated at about $100. Mr. Easton says the house caught fire from a defective flue; others say that a pan of hot ashes deposited near the south side of the building was the cause of the conflagration. The ‘Little Giant’ did very satisfactory work.”
A citizen remarked: “Every well regulated family ought to have one of those squirt guns.”
The editor of the Winfield Courier defended the “Little Giant,” calling it a success when properly handled. “It needs active, fearless, and experienced men about it to make it real effective. Call a meeting, organize, elect officers, drill, pump, yell fire, and then watch the ‘squirt gun.’ Get more ladders, keep them in a convenient place, and see the boys climb.”
An engine house was built near Shoeb’s Shop for accommodation of the “Little Giant.”
On December 8, 1876, the Mayor and Councilmen of Winfield passed Ordinance No. 61, which organized and governed a Fire Department. This ordinance consisted of 19 sections, no doubt taken from that of a large city. In 1876 Winfield had a population of 1,421 citizens. The ordinance called for Fire Department officers: Chief, Engineer, 1st Assistant Engineer, 2nd Assistant Engineer, Captain, 1st Lieutenant, and 2nd Lieutenant. The Engineer was the commanding officer, and had the duty to enroll twelve volunteers to constitute an Engine Company. The city of Winfield was divided into four fire districts by lines drawn through the city along the center of Main street and along the center of Ninth Avenue. The sum of $85.00 was appropriated from the city treasury to pay for building an engine house on the west end of lot 1, block 109, and to pay for the use of the ground on which it stood for two years in advance; and the property of the city connected with the fire department was housed, stored, and properly secured in said building, the property of the city. Sheriff R. L. Walker was appointed as Chief, T. B. Myers as Engineer, and H. S. Silver as Captain of the fire department of the city of Winfield.
On April 6, 1877, R. L. Walker was Mayor; the Fire Committee was composed of C. M. Wood, S. C. Smith, and A. G. Wilson, members of the city council.
On May 2, 1877, two alarms of fire startled citizens in Winfield at a time when the wind was blowing stiff from the south. The fire company had the engine and ladders bearing upon the smoking roof of Mrs. Bradish’s dwelling in exactly ten and one half minutes from the time of the alarm. The smoke came from a burning chimney that allowed the smoke to pass into the gable of the roof; hence the alarm. The second fire was more serious. Between 4 and 5 p.m., another fire alarm was sounded and the fire company with engine and ladders were only three minutes in getting to the house of Mrs. Tucker and turning loose upon it with their chemicals. Flames and smoke were bursting from every door and window of the house before anything was done to save it, but the “Little Giant” and a hundred willing, active hands subdued the flames and saved the house. The damage to furniture and inside woodwork amounted to one hundred dollars.
The fire company began to meet on an irregular basis at lamp light.
A 225 lb. city fire alarm bell arrived on June 20, 1877. It was inadequate.
The “Little Giant” was pressed into service on numerous occasions. In July 1878 a lamp explosion occurred in By Terrill’s livery stable. Prompt and energetic action by the boys in charge of the fire extinguisher smothered the flames and averted disaster. It took the fire company two minutes to race three-quarters of a mile to the south part of Winfield in April 1879 when someone reported a residence fire. The building was nearly consumed by the time the exhausted men arrived. In June 1879 T. A. Wilkinson’s stable, located in the rear of his house on Mansfield street, was set on fire by his little boy, Sammy, who wanted a bonfire and took some matches up to the hay loft, collected a bunch of hay in one corner, and touched it off. Seeing that he had a little more fire than he bargained for, he tumbled head long out of the loft and soon the whole barn was in a blaze. The fire company was on hand with the “Little Giant” in a short time, but they arrived too late to save the stable.
In March 1880 a fire was started at the Central Hotel from a stove pipe passing through a tin ventilator in the upper floor. The roof was kept saturated with water, which prevented the fire from breaking out until the “Little Giant” could be brought to bear upon it from the inside, when it was quickly extinguished. A reporter covering the fire stated: “Several idiots seemed determined to smash in the windows on the north gable, and it required the most strenuous efforts of the members of the fire company to prevent it. Had they done so, and given the air a chance to fan the flames, the building could not have been saved.”
Another report concerning the Central Hotel fire was more alarming: “The fire has served to show the utter inefficiency of the means provided to extinguish it. The wells and pumps on which has been squandered a large amount of money were useless, some of the wells being dry and others, where the hose was attached, the force of the pump was too weak to raise the water as high as the building. It is very certain that had the fire occurred at midnight, instead of in daylight when hundreds were on the streets to help extinguish it by hand, a large portion of the business part of our city would now be but a mass of ruins. Let us take this as a warning, and at once cast about for some effective means of protecting ourselves against this devouring demon.”
In April 1880 the city council was advised by citizens that an appropriation should be made to buy oil for the fire engine and ladder truck, which needed it badly.
The Old Log Store Goes Up in Flames.
Original Claim Turned Into Six Blocks Along Main Street.
In April 1870 Manning with stock from the Manning-Baker partnership took up most of the first floor of the two-story log store; Dr. W. Q. Mansfield started a small drug store in one corner of the building, sleeping on the floor at night until he could get a small abode built. In May 1871 the partnership of J. A. Myton and Hiram Brotherton started a business in the Old Log Store, providing clothing, boots and shoes, mirrors, blankets, comforters, etc. They were replaced by Van Hillis in November 1872, who was followed by Robinson & Co. This company was followed by McMillen & Shields, general dealers in merchandise, dry goods, and groceries, which started in January 1873. Mr. McMillen did the buying for this partnership in St. Louis and Chicago. In May 1874 they moved their goods into a former drug store run by A. H. Green, and were replaced by the grocery store of I. F. Newland in July 1874. Newland closed out at auction and was replaced by J. C. Weathers and J. M. Dever, who handled groceries, queensware, and provisions under the name of J. C. Weathers & Co. This business closed on February 1875.
The second floor of the Old Log Store was used at first as a courtroom and county offices. The Courier office took over much of this space in April 1873.
The first floor of this structure became the post office sometime in 1875.
In October 1877 E. C. Manning made arrangements to build a brick business house on the site of the “old log store,” which had served for eight long years as a store, church, political headquarters, law office, post office, schoolhouse, and printing office.
In March 1878 Robert Hudson put his log wheels under the structure and moved it to a site on the north side of 8th avenue between Main and Millington. Robinson & Miller, dealers in furniture, coffins, etc., turned the building into a furniture store. Its last owner was Mr. Fredrick Leuschen, who used it as a cabinet shop.
The story of its destruction by fire along with other buildings nearby was told by the Winfield Courier on May 6, 1880.
“Last Thursday night, between 11 and 3 o’clock, Winfield was visited by the most disastrous conflagration yet happening within her borders. The fire started in the old log store, one of the landmarks of the town, and for years occupied by the COURIER, but was now being used by F. Leuschen as a cabinet shop. The fire is supposed to have originated from the old rags, oil, and varnish in the shop. The alarm was given before the fire was thoroughly underway, and had those first on the ground been furnished with decent appliances, it might have been controlled, saving thousands of dollars worth of property. The old log building was like a tinder box and made a very hot fire. Next to it on the east were two buildings, one belonging to C. L. Harter and occupied by the moulder at the foundry, the other owned and occupied by Robert Hudson. These buildings were both destroyed, but the contents were saved.
“Immediately west of the log building, across the alley, was an old livery barn belonging to Hackney & McDonald, which was the next to go.
“From this the fire was communicated to the Central Hotel (922 Main) and Lindell Hotel (702-704 Main). As soon as it was evident that the hotels must go, the work of getting out the furniture began. Carpets, bedding, crockery ware, and furniture of all descriptions were tumbled promiscuously out of windows and doors into the street, much of it being broken and smashed. The hotels being dry, pine buildings, burned rapidly, sending up large cinders which fell in different parts of the city, making the utmost vigilance necessary to keep them from igniting buildings three blocks from the fire.
“When the two hotels caught, everyone turned their attention toward saving the buildings on either side of the street. They were covered with men who handled buckets of water and barrels of salt, and by their exertions prevented the fire from spreading and destroying the larger part of the business portion of our city.”
The city council was upset when the disastrous fire occurred as they no longer had access to revenues from saloons.
A fire that occurred January 26, 1881, about 3:00 a.m. was not heard as the fire bell was frosty and although it was rung long and hard, it could not be heard more than two blocks away. By this time there were two fire machines in Winfield; but they needed water in order to operate. Water was very scarce, making the machines useless.
Three frame buildings were consumed on the west side of Main Street between 10th and 11th avenues; the brick houses on either side of them were hardly scorched. George A. Rhodes lost his coal office valued at $2,000; Mr. Graham, who ran a meat market, lost over $500. The heaviest loser was Daniel Sheel, undertaker and furniture dealer, who lost his stock and building valued at $3,000. He was, however, insured for $1,000.
The awning caught on Glass’ drug store next to the burning buildings. Ivan Robinson grabbed a small club and tried to beat it down while there were three men on top of it at the same time; fortunately for their necks, Ivan failed. Two young ladies standing near the burning buildings observed the sole chemical engine that arrived. “Oh!” said one, “they’ve saved the sausage stuffer!” “Why, no, my dear,” responded the other, “that is Quincy Glass’ soda-water machine.”
In February 1881 the fire engine at station No. 1 was frozen up so that it was not taken out of the fire department building. The hook and ladder truck from the other station appeared after the fire was out at Mr. Scovill’s residence. It was saved due to the efforts of his neighbors, who had plenty of water near at hand.
New Fire Bell Placed in New Tower.
The city council procured a new fire bell, much larger than the old one, in April 1881. I. W. Randall was awarded the contract to erect a 30 ft. tall fire bell tower for the new bell in the rear of Max Shoeb’s blacksmith shop. The Courier complained in May: “The new fire bell has been hung in the new tower, and some new hand has been tormenting the life almost out of us by ringing it for the last three days. If the thing doesn’t stop, we will demand our ‘devil’ to give it a taste of real fire.”
In August 1882 the Winfield City Mills (owned by Bliss & Wood) was destroyed by fire, which was discovered too late for the fire department to respond to the clanging of the new fire bell at 3:00 a.m. Few fires occurred after the flour mill burned down.
Winfield Water Company To Provide Fire Protection.
On January 17, 1883, the city council passed Ordinance No. 167. It stipulated that the Winfield Water Company would protect the city against disaster from fires.
In March 1883 M. L. Robinson of the Water Company enlisted support to elect Dr. George Emerson as Mayor and D. L. Kretsinger for the vacant slot on the city council, believing that both individuals were partial to water company interests. His efforts were successful.
In May 1883 the city council appointed a committee to examine ways to provide the city with fire hose and carts. Bids for fire department supplies were referred to the fire department committee in August
Winfield Courier, May 10, 1883.
[At City Council Meeting.]
On motion, the Mayor, Councilman Kretsinger, and Mr. J. P. Short were appointed a committee to examine the question of providing the city with fire hose and carts.
Winfield Courier, August 9, 1883.
At the Council meeting Monday evening bids for fire department supplies were referred to the fire department committee and Council adjourned to meet next Monday evening.
Winfield Courier, August 9, 1883.
Messrs. English Brothers of Kansas City, Missouri, were awarded the contract by the City Council to furnish the city one thousand feet of fire hose and two hose carts. The hose purchased is the celebrated Excelsior grade manufactured by the Boston Belting Company, who are the oldest manufacturers of fire hose in the country. The hose carts are of the Silsby Manufacturing Company’s make. The names of the manufacturers in each case is a guarantee of strictly first class goods. Messrs. English Bros. were represented by Mr. Maynard Miller, a gentleman thoroughly posted in this business.
Winfield Courier, August 23, 1883.
At the special session of the council Monday evening, a tax levy of 5 mills for general purposes, 2½ mills for fire department supplies, and 5 mills for paying off the Carpenter judgment, was made—12½ mills in all.
An application for levy for water works rents was made and earnestly pressed by councilman Kretsinger, but the council seemed to think it was time enough to make the levy after the contract had been completed and so sat down on the proposition very hard.
Winfield Courier, September 13, 1883.
Our New Water-Works.
The two hose carts and one thousand feet of hose for the city, representing fourteen hundred dollars, arrived Tuesday. On Tuesday afternoon the hose was attached to the fire-plugs on Main street, the pressure put on, and the street fairly deluged with the bright, clear water of the Walnut. Solid streams shot over a hundred feet into the air with terrific force. It was indeed a grand sight to see the crystal drops sent whirling through the air from the five or six plugs running at once. Only a third of the power of the huge engine was brought to bear and yet so strong was the force that the nozzle of the hose at several different times downed the efforts of four or five men and they went sprawling around over the ground like some great serpent. The “fire company” turned the stream on everybody who ventured near enough, and the number of “drowned rats” was appalling to see. It produced much jovial excitement and was engineered by our city marshal, G. W. Prater. A constant pressure is now kept on the pipes and over fifty persons have taken water. Many lawn sprinklers are now affording relief from the brazen elements. But one leak has been found in the entire piping since the first test, which certainly reflects great credit upon the workmanship of Mr. John Maxwell, the contractor. The next thing in order to the completion of our fire department is the organizing of a fire company; this done, we can down any blaze that pokes up its head. The extraordinary ability of the superintendent, Frank Barclay, as a draughtsman, plumber, and machinist has been finely demonstrated by the quality and adeptness of the water-works machinery. Frank’s knowledge in this line can’t be beaten.
[WINFIELD FIRE COMPANIES.]
Winfield Courier, November 22, 1883.
It is getting about time to organize fire companies in this city. We have the water, the hose, carts, and every necessary appliance except men to handle them. Let the Council, or someone in authority, arrange for the organization of rival companies, one in each ward, and get up some life and competition in the matter. The insurance rates have already been reduced from fifteen to twenty-five percent, but if some means of handling our fire protection is not speedily perfected, the old rates will be restored. Let everyone take hold of this matter and let us have two fire companies.