Peoria County, Illinois  Genealogy Trails



Peoria City

Turn-of-the Century Utilities



For all purposes except that of drinking the river was the main water supply of the early settlers. But the water of the Illinois River has never been regarded as very wholesome. In early times there were numerous small springs issuing from the river bank, near the brink, which were utilized by collecting the water into receptacles provided for that purpose. But these were useful only to those living near the river. There were also copious springs issuing from the face of the bluff, one near where Western Avenue now is; one at Spencer Street; one at Main Street; one near the head of Jackson Street and one at Spring Street. There were others of less note, but these were regarded as important, some of them being made the subjects of special reservations in the grants of the land upon which they were located. But for common use they were too far distant from the village. As the population extended back from the river, resort was had mainly to wooden cisterns, the construction of' which constituted an important item in the cooper's trade,—every cooper making it known by his advertisements that he was prepared to build cisterns of the most approved pattern and on short notice. They were constructed after the pattern of a common railroad tank and hooped with iron, but set into the ground instead of upon an elevated support. Brick cisterns had not yet come into use. To render the water palatable, ice would be a desideratum, the manner of furnishing which was as primitive as the cisterns. One man, a grocer, advertised September 22, 1838, that he had ice for sale at 11/2 cents per pound for the balance of the season, to those calling before seven o'clock in the morning. Four years earlier, the proprietor of the only newspaper in the village had advertised for rent an ice- house 12 feet deep, 9 feet square, double lined, with good wheat straw between the lining and the batting. Ice- houses above ground were probably deemed impracticable. With the water and ice at hand another citizen gave notice that he had just received one pipe fourth-proof Cognac Brandy, one barrel White Malaga Wine, one barrel Madeira, one-half barrel Port, one-half barrel London Particular Teneriffe, six boxes Claret, one box Muscat, four barrels brown sugar, and various other articles (doubtless including lemons) in his line, which he would sell for cash. There were two public houses which were ready to furnish their guests with the best the country could afford. The people were, therefore, not under the necessity of relying wholly upon raw cistern water.

The first attempt to establish a public supply of water was made by Stephen Stillman in 1833. His plan was to utilize the water of a spring near the head of Jackson Street, in front of what is now the new St. Francis Hospital, by conveying it in wooden pipes to the Public Square. The County Commissioners were contemplating the erec- tion of a new Court House, and as there was no adequate supply of water nearer than the river, a contract was entered into with Stillman at the March Term, 1833, granting to him, his heirs and assigns the exclusive right to bring water to the Public Square. His project also contemplated the construction of a tank or reservoir at the southeast corner of the square, but this part of the enterprise does not seem to have been carried out. The pipes consisted of logs bored from end to end by hand, which was the usual way of making pump stocks in those early times.

Soon after the completion of the Court House the County Commissioners entered into a contract with Dr. Rudolphus Rouse to sink a well at the west corner of the square, which was completed and served the public for many years. It has been stated that wells were sunk only in the low grounds below Adams Street because of the impossibility of raising the water by means of suction pumps from the depth required. This is an erroneous statement, as the well .mentioned proves. There were also wells as far up as Monroe Street, but those on the higher grounds were operated by means of the rope, windlass and bucket, and not by the pump. These wells were sunk at the public expense and some of them have been maintained by the City until very recently, if not until the present time.

But these early improvements had no reference to protection against fire. As early as August 10th, 1836, the Board of Trustees adopted an ordinance requiring every owner of a building to provide for it two substantial leather fire-buckets, with his or her name inscribed. When a fire would break out, a bell would be rung, at first the bell on the Main Street Church, afterwards that on Tobey & Anderson's Plow Shop, whereupon every person able to carry a bucket was expected to repair to the scene. Two lines would then be formed from the burning building to the river, along one of which buckets filled with water would be passed from hand to hand, and along the other the empty buckets would be returned to be again filled. After the introduction of the fire engines, as nearly every family had a cistern, these were laid under contribution so long as the water in them would last.

By Act of the Legislature of February 1st, 1843 a company called the Peoria Water Company was chartered with power to improve any spring within two miles of the corporate limits. This company excavated about the spring in the northeast corner of Section eight near Spencer Street and improved it with substantial masonry, which still exists. They also conducted the water through leaden pipes into the residence portion of the city, also to some of the business houses in the vicinity of the public square, and extended their pipes as far as Hancock Street between Madison and Monroe. This company still has an existence and probably continues to supply some of its former patrons with water. The spring was subsequently further utilized by Ransom E. Hickey, In the manufacture of soda water, and is still used to supply a bottling establishment of a similar character.

The first movement towards the establishment of a fire department was made on January 8, 1844. when at a meeting of the Trustees of the Town of Peoria, it was resolved that a meeting of the citizens be called to assemble at the Court House for the purpose of devising means to protect property from fire, and that the Clerk be authorized to give notice thereof, and to furnish light, etc., for the meeting and to charge it to the town. Nothing substantial, however, seems to have resulted from that meeting.

By an act of the Legislature of March 3, 1845, the Trustees of the Town were authorized to construct a general system of water works, with power to take any springs within two miles of the corporate limits, which power was to enure to the City if the new charter should be adopted. But nothing seems to have been done under this act. At the March Term, 1846, of the County Commissioners' Court, William H. Fessenden, Peter Sweat and A. P. Bartlett were appointed a committee to superintend the construction of two cisterns in the Public Square to be used in case of fire. On September 10th, of the same year, the City Council appointed Charles W. McClallen, Lewis Howell and Charles T. Steams (Mayor) to purchase, at the expense of the city, a good fire engine and hose. This was done and on November 23d, of the same year, it resolved that the engine committee be authorized
to purchase another of the same pattern, if the same could be obtained by paying $500 down and the balance by November 1, 1847. Both engines were built by Hunneman, were purchased in Boston at a cost of $1,200, and came by water by way of New Orleans. They were for a time lodged in the Market House on Washington Street. This was the origin of the splendid Fire Department we now have.

Within the next few years four fire companies were organized in the city, but just when the first one was formed it is difficult to ascertain. They were at first formed or disbanded at the pleasure of the City Council, but afterwards two of them obtained charters from the Legislature.

The chief supply of water still continued to be the river and, when that was too distant, cisterns would be laid under contribution. Not only the members of the companies were subject to be called upon to do duty in working the engines, but every citizen able to work might be drafted into the service by the Marshal, and if he refused to respond to the call, he might be fined for his refusal. In this way the engines were kept constantly manned.
Independent Fire Company, No. I, was organized some time in the year 1846, probably about the time of the purchase of the first fire engine.

On March 21, 1848, a committee consisting of Lewis Howell, C. W. McClallen and Dennis Blakely was appointed by the City Council to purchase Lot 3 in Block 6 for $300 for engine house and City Hall. Upon the completion of the City Hall, as elsewhere stated, Company No. l was re-organized and took up its quarters there, and continued to occupy the first floor of that building until the completion of the New City Hall on Fulton Street in 1859.

Neptune Fire Company, No. 2, was organized about the month of June, 1847 as Illinois Engine Company, No. 2, with thirty-four members. In 1852 it moved from the old Market House, to what was known as the Central City Hose House on Adams Street between Hamilton and Fayette, now occupied by O'Brien Bros., 229 N. Adams Street. In 1854 they received a new engine and re-organized under their new name. This company was disbanded in 1858. But a new company was organized July 9, 1858, as Young America, No. 4, with 66 members, and were given the old engine No. 1. In the fall of 1858, the City Council gave them the engine of Neptune, No. 2, at which time the name was changed to that of Fire Company, Young America, No. 2, and they were also given the hall formerly occupied by the Neptune. This company continued in existence until October 12, 1865, during which time it many times carried off the broom in tournaments with the fire departments of other cities.

Germania Fire Company, No. 3, was organized in 1853, and received a charter from the Legislature by Act of February 14, 1855. Their first engine was made by Kufferle of St. Louis. In 1860, they received a new engine which in 1867 they donated to the city, and purchased a steam fire engine, a part of the price being paid by the city. They kept their first engine in an old blacksmith shop on Washington Street until 1854, when the city built them an engine house on Liberty Street on the south corner of the alley between Adams and Washington Streets. The hall on the second floor of this building was a rallying place for the Germans for a long time. There August Schultz taught a school by day and there one of their singing societies held forth at night. This company was also the winner of many prizes in tournaments and did most valuable service in the extinguishment of fires.

The Phoenix Hook and Ladder Company, No. l, was organized February 10, 1856. It had its house on the alley between Washington and Adams Street near Main.

New Peoria Fire Company, No. 4, was organized October 26, 1858, with sixteen men besides the foreman, James Shock, who was also assistant foreman of the Hook and Ladder Company. They were first given the old engine No. l, but afterwards in 1865 were given the engine of Young America, No. 2, of which they are still in possession. They received a charter by Act of the Legislature of February 18, 1861. This is the only fire company which has survived the changes wrought in the Fire Department by the progress of events. They still have their old hand engine, which is brought out at all public exhibitions of the Fire Department.

Another movement was set on foot in 1857, to provide a general supply of water for the city. A company was chartered under the name of The Peoria City Hydraulic Company, with a capital of $250,000 with power to increase it to $500,000, and with the full and exclusive power and authority to construct water works for the convenience and accommodation of the public for the period of fifty years. It was authorized to conduct the
water in leaden, iron or other aqueducts from any point on the Illinois River within two miles of the corporate limits, and to lease water privileges upon such terms as they might agree with property owners as nearly upon equal terms as possible under the circumstances, provided the yearly profits should not exceed fifty per cent of the capital stock paid in. The property of the company was to be free from taxation by the city, in consideration of which the city and the fire companies were to have free use of the water and free access to the hydrants (one of which was required to be placed on each block), in case of fires. The city was to have the right to purchase the works, by paying cost and interest on the money expended at not exceeding 12 per cent per annum. By another act of the same Legislature the city was given power to issue bonds to the amount of $100,000 in aid of this company. Nothing, however, came of it and the city remained for some years thereafter without a public supply of water.

Steam fire engines came into use in the year 1866, when Joseph J. Thomas was chief of the Fire Department. Steamer Central City was placed in the service May 21, of that year. Hank Seely being engineer, Benjamin Wright, stoker, O. H. Norton, John Waugh and M. Peve, hosemen ; the engineer receiving $90.00 per month, the hosemen and stoker $45.00 per month each. But the latter could continue to work at their trades, they being required to be on duty only in time of fires. The second steam fire engine placed in the service was that of Germania Fire Company, No. 3, in the summer of 1867.

During the war active steps were again set on foot to obtain an adequate supply of water. Disastrous fires having become frequent, it was feared they might have been the work of rebel emissaries in the city. On one or two occasions serious alarm prevailed and citizens turned out to patrol the city in the night time. Whether or not this alarm had anything to do with hastening the action of the City Council does not appear but on. January 19, 1864, a resolution was adopted by that body, to the effect that a committee of three, in connection with the City Engineer and Surveyor, be appointed by the Mayor, to inquire into the expediency of erecting water works for the city, and to report plans and probable cost and all things pertaining to the same at their next regular meeting. (A large task for so short a time). The committee at first consisted of Aldermen Frederick Bohl, P. R. K. brotherson and Patrick W. Dunne; but before the committee could report Mr. Dunne and Mr. Russell (the engineer) had retired and Isaac Underhill and Michael B. Loughlin had been substituted. That committee on June 21, 1864, reported a plan with estimates of cost and recommended that an amendment of the City Charter be procured at the next session of the Legislature authorizing an issue of bonds to the amount of $300,000. Such an act was
passed by the Legislature and, at an election ordered by the. Council, and held on the 10th day of April, 1865, (that being the date of the general City election) upon a proposition to issue the bonds, the same was defeated by an overwhelming vote, only 203 out of an entire vote of 2,300 voting for it. This may appear strange to the people of the present day, but it must be remembered that, when that vote was taken, the war was still raging. True it was, that on the night before, the people had been aroused at ten o'clock by the ringing of bells and the firing of cannon over the news of Lee's surrender, but there was still much to be done, and the drain upon the people had already been as heavy as could well be endured. The matter then rested until October, 1867, when another vote was ordered, but, in consequence of three of the wards not having voted, the matter was again dropped until February 4, l868. In pursuance of a resolution of the Council then adopted, the Mayor appointed a committee consisting of John H. Francis, Enoch Emery and Michael B. Loughlin to consider the matter, to employ a suitable engineer to make plans, surveys and estimates for .the work, with authority to visit such places as they might deem necessary to get the requisite information. The committee reported on March 3, l868, that they had visited Chicago, and St. Louis and made a personal examination of the works in those cities, that they had employed an engineer for the season, and that, from; what they could learn from the plans and recommendations of Octave Chanute, Esq., they were nearly what was needed. The committee strongly urged upon the Council the necessity of proceeding at once and reported an Ordinance entitled "An Ordinance establishing a system of Water Works in the City of Peoria," which was passed. At the same time an Ordinance was passed creating a department of the City Government to be called "the Water Works Department," to be under the direction and management of a committee of the City Council consisting of five members to be appointed by the Mayor as soon as might be thereafter, said committee to be renewed on the first Tuesday in May, l868, and annually thereafter, and to have the. general supervision of the construction as well as the control of the Water Works. The committee so appointed consisted of John H. Francis, Enoch Emery, Gardner T. Barker, Larkin B. Day and Samuel A. Kinsey. About the same time another Ordinance was passed authorizing the Mayor and Clerk to issue bonds to the amount of $300,000, and on April n, the Mayor was authorized to borrow the money necessary for the purpose intended.

On May 25th, the committee reported that they had engaged Joseph A. Locke, Assistant Engineer of the Water Works at Louisville, Kentucky, to make a survey and estimate of the cost of water works, capable of supplying the city with 2,000,000 gallons of water per day. The estimated cost. exclusive of the grounds was $310,059. This estimate included a reservoir to cost . $52,250, to be located on the bluff at an elevation of 200 feet from the river. The committee visited Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburg and Syracuse. During the progress of their investiga- ions their attention was called to a new system known as the Holly System, by which the reservoir could be dispensed with and the water injected directly into the pipes by means of rotary pumps with such force as to take the place of fire engines in the extinguishment of fires, anywhere in the city. The committee did not at first favor this plan, but having visited Lockport and Auburn, where the same was in use, they became satisfied as to its feasi- bility and that, by that means, nearly $100.000 could be saved to the city. The plan also contemplated an arrange- ment for filtering the water, by which it could be brought from the river through a large submerged pipe or conduit into a filter bed, excavated to a depth below low-water mark, and there made to pass through the filter before entering the pipes. A new estimate was then made and the entire cost figured at $235,368.31.

The Holly System was then adopted and the water works were, by ordinance dated July 21, 1868, located on a tract of land containing eleven acres situated on the river bank at the foot of what is now Grant street, then the Steam Ferry Road, and lying partly in the northwest quarter of Section 2, partly in the northeast quarter of Section 3. The land belonged to John Birket, who was offered $2,200 for it, if he would sell for that price, but since the city could not come to an agreement with him, the Mayor was authorized to begin proceedings in court for condemnation thereof. The land was, however, purchased at that price.

The Water Works Committee had been authorized to contract with the Holly Manufacturing Company, to furnish engines, pumps and other machinery necessary for the application of its system to Peoria, at a cost not .to exceed $40,000, and, on June 22, 1868, their contract was ratified by ordinance. On August 7, a contract was by ordinance ratified between the City and T. J. Gaylord & Co., of Cincinnati, Ohio, for 1,000 tons if iron pipes and castings. The contract for laying the pipes was awarded to Patrick Harmon, and that for the erection of the build- ings to Valentine Jobst.

By an act of the Legislature of February 20, 1869 the charter of the City of Peoria was revised and amended so as to embrace all ordinances adopted subsequent to the original charter, which were thought desirable to be retained. The Water Works Department was incorporated into the revised charter, the powers of the Council were enlarged, and authority was given to issue water works bonds to the amount of $500,000, at 7 per cent. By a supplemental act, approved April 18, 1869, authority was given to make $150,000 of these bonds draw interest at 10 per cent. per annum.

By ordinance of April 20, 1869, the Mayor and Clerk were directed to issue $150,000 of said bonds to bear interest at 10 per cent., and on June 30, they were authorized to issue $50,000 in bonds at 6 per cent. On the same day a contract was entered into with William Smith, of Pittsburg for 500 tons of pipe to complete the works. With the $300,000 of bonds previously issued the amount of Water Works bonds issued by the City was one-half million of dollars.

The works were completed during the summer of 1869. On April 15th of that year the City Council passed an ordinance for the regulation and collection of water rates or rents, and on August 1st the same began to be charged up against the takers. Twenty-five and one-fourth miles of water pipe had been laid and 200 double fire hydrants had been set. The total cost was $431,790.45. The amount realized from the sale of bonds had been $453,020.65.

Upon test trial the works proved eminently satisfactory. The contract for pipes had called for a resisting power of 300 pounds to the square inch. The force applied was sufficient to throw a stream perpendicularly 150 feet. The effect upon the firemen was unexpected and in some respects ludicrous. The immense force applied wrenched the nozzles from their hands, and the hose went flopping about the hydrants on the street corners like so many en- raged anacondas, to the consternation of the on-lookers and to the serious damage of some sections of the hose.

The introduction of the water works wrought a complete revolution in the fire department of the city. For the period of five years the system worked so satisfactorily that the fire engines were no longer needed, and they were all sold or otherwise disposed of with the exception of that of Germania No. 4.

In 1874 the department consisted of The Fire Alarm Telegraph, introduced in the year 1868, The Central City Hose Company, organized in 1870; The Holly Hose Company, organized in 1872; a Hook and Ladder Company, and the Germania No. 4. During that year a new building had been erected in Block 9, North Adams Street, costing with the lot $3,490.26; also a new hose-house on the bluff, on a lot purchased of Barrett White, for $578.75, the whole costing $2,432.50. There were still some public wells kept up at the city's expense.

On March 9, 1875, on motion of Charles H. Kellogg, an ordinance creating a paid Fire Department was adopted, and, at the same meeting, O. H. Norton was elected chief.

During his administration, which continued for three years, several important changes took place. It having been discovered that the supplying of the bluff with water in time of fire could no longer be continued with the Holly pumps without detriment to the service, a new Cameron piston pump, costing $2,500, was added, with special reference to that service. A new Dean pistons pump was also added to the general system, at a cost of $6,000. There was also added a chemical engine at the cost of over $2,600. The Bluff Hose Company was organized and equipped with hose-carriages, horses and harness at the cost of over $900. In 1876 another chemical wagon was added, at a cost of over $2,000 and in 1877 Chemical Engine Company No. 2 was formed; a new building for it was erected at a cost of $2,162.20 on a lot which cost $1,000, and horses and harness purchased at a cost of $387.

The first members of the companies were as follows: Jesse Hammett, James Smith, Adam Schneider constituted the Central Hose Company; Henry Schearer, Xavier Stultzman, Maurice Lynch, the Holly Hose Company; H. F. Johnson, James Wasson, H. J. Chauson, the Bluff Hose Company; John Waugh, F. M. Phillips, David Dick, Chemical Engine Company No. 1; Adam Schneider, Charles Upton and Maurice Lynch, Chemical Engine Company No. 2.

New boilers were in 1877 placed in the Water Works at the cost of $5,399.43.

During the years 1878 and 1879 no additions were made except the purchase of some horses and hose. The companies were then located as follows: Central City in a two-story, brick, north side of Adams, between Hamilton and Fayette streets; Holly Hose Company in a two-story brick, west side of Sanford, between South Jefferson and First Streets; Bluff Hose Company in a two-story brick, south side Main, between Elizabeth and Douglas Streets; Chemical No. 1 in same building with Central City; Chemical No. 2 in a two-story brick, north side of Adams, between Lindell Street and Plank Road; New Volunteer Company (Germania No. 4) in two-story brick on Gallatin, between Cedar and Pecan Streets.

In 1880 the entire Holly machinery was sold for $1,750, and a new set of Worthington pumps were substituted at a cost of $15,130. The fire alarm telegraph then consisted of 23 miles of wire strung on 320 poles; 2 striking apparatus, 4 large gongs, 1 small alarm gong and 100 electric jars; the whole arranged into two circuits. The Bell Telephone was then in operation, which brought the business and residence portions of the city into closer touch with the Fire Department.

In 1881 a new hose house was built and horses, truck and harness purchased at an aggregate cost of over $3,000. There was also a new hook and ladder truck purchased, manned and equipped.

In 1883 it was deemed advisable to supplement the pumps at the water works with a steam fire engine, to reach the out-lying portions of the city, to which the water pipes had not been extended. A lot was, therefore, pur- chased near South Street, a two-story brick building 25x62 feet was erected and a second sized double Ahrends steam fire engine with horses was placed therein. There was also a lot purchased on North Adams Street, a two-story brick house built thereon and a four wheeled hose carriage placed therein. The cost of the new engine house and lots was $9,859.02.

In 1884 there was added a second sized Clapp & Jones steam fire engine, with horses and harness at a cost of $4,975. There was also erected a two-story brick building, 20x50 feet, adjoining the hook and ladder house, at a cost of $2,000.

In 1886 there was a new fire engine house constructed at the corner of Sanford and West Jefferson Streets, a very large proportion of the work being done by the mechanics of the department without cost to the city. The cash outlays were $4,120.65.

In 1888 one of the most complete fire stations in the country was erected on Jackson between Adams and Jefferson Streets, at a cost of $12,000. It was intended to accommodate a hose-cart, chemical engine and steam fire engine. A first-class Buttom steam fire engine was also purchased and placed in the hose-house on West Jefferson Street.

By ordinance of July 23, 1889, as finally amended and perfected August 5, 1890, the entire system of water works belonging to the city was sold to John T. Moffatt, Henry C. Hodgkins, John V. Clark and Charles T. Moffatt, doing business under the firm name of Moffatt, Hodgkins & Clark, which ordinance or contract now constitutes the law respecting the government of the water works and defines the relations existing between the city, the Peoria Water Works Company and the people. As a part consideration the purchasers agreed for themselves and their assigns to take up and pay, according to their terms, the remaining $450,000 of water works bonds issued by the city. Messrs. Moffatt, Hodgkins & dark turned the works over to the Peoria Water Company, incorporated.

That company reconstructed the entire system of supply by the erection of new pumping works near. the upper bridge and a reservoir situated on the bluff about three miles from the Court House. The source of supply is from a series of wells sunk near the river, from which is obtained an inexhaustible supply of pure water. The system is a combination of reservoir and direct pressure of such construction that, in case of a failure of a supply from the reservoir, a sufficient pressure can be obtained directly from the pumps. There are three Worthington vertical, high duty pumps having a capacity of 7,000,000 gallons each per day. The reservoir capacity is 19,000,000 gallons. The pressure in the business district is from 95 to 120 pounds per square inch. There are 84 miles of main pipe, ranging from 4 inches to 30 inches in diameter.

Water was first supplied from the new station on December i, 1890, and the enlarged works were completed in May, 1891. Complications of a financial character having arisen, a receiver was appointed January 9, 1894, by whom the works were operated until the year 1898, when they were purchased at a foreclosure sale by a committee of bond-holders, by whom a new company was formed to operate the works called the "Peoria Water Works Company," which company continues to operate them.

The officers of the "Peoria Water Works Company" are Howard Knowles, President; E. D. Usner, Secretary and Treasurer; Henry B. Morgan, Managing Director; Dabney H. Maury, Engineer and Superintendent; Harry Ringness, Assistant Superintendent; D. John Forbes, Cashier.

Since the transfer of the Water Works to the company some additions have been made to the fire department, which are sufficiently indicated by the following statement.

The old names of the companies having been dropped the organization of the Fire Department in 1899 showed the following: Hose Company No. l, 203 Jackson Street; No. 2, 300 Prairie Street; No. 3, 1515 Main Street; No. 4, 1521 South Adams Street; No. 5, 1325 North Adams Street; No. 6, 1108 South Adams Street; Volunteer Company No. 4, Gallatin Street; Hose Company No. 7, 628 Knoxville Avenue; Chemical No. l, 201 Jackson Street; Combination Company No. l, 1525 South Adams Street; Hook and Ladder No. l, 300 Prairie Street; No. 2, 205 Jackson Street. Force of the Department, 1 Fire Marshal at a salary of $1,400; l Assistant at $1,100; 3 engineers, $960; 9 Captains, $840; 28 pipemen, truckmen and stokers and 12 drivers at $780 each. Each company is fully equipped with the apparatus designated by its name, there being in the service six two-horse hose-wagons; 1 two horse carriage; l two-horse double eighty-gallon Champion chemical engine; 1 two-horse combination chemical and hose-wagon; 1 two-horse City service hook and ladder truck; 1 three-horse eighty-five foot extension aerial truck; 1 second size Ahrends steam fire engine ; 8 portable hand chemicals; and in reserve 2 steam fire engines; 2 two-horse hose carriages. There are 32 horses in the department, 28 in the service and four extras.

New engine houses are in process of erection. in the newly acquired territories of South Peoria and North Peoria. The apparatus will consist of chemical combination wagons and hose wagons, the crews to consist of four men each. These additions will give the department nine engine houses in all, served by 65 men.

The chief executive officer of the Fire Department has had different designations at different times, such as Chief Engineer, Fire Marshal, Superintendent, etc.

From the time of the completion of the Water Works until the organization of the paid Fire Department, the Superintendent of the Water Works acted as Chief Engineer. They were Carl Moeller, with William Roth, Assistant, for two years, William McLean, one year, and E. S. Easton, with Patrick Toben, Assistant, for one year. On March 9, 1875, 0. H. Norton was elected the first chief under the paid Fire Department and served for three years. He was succeeded in 1878 by James H. White, who served until 1882, with James Smith as Assistant, and was succeeded for the next two years by O. H. Norton, with Henry Shearer as Assistant. In January, 1884, James Smith was appointed Chief and served two years, with Henry Shearer as Assistant. In January, 1886, O. H. Norton was again appointed and served one year with Henry Shearer as Assistant. In January, 1887, Carl Moeller was appointed as Chief and continued to render the city efficient service until his death, November 25, 1901. On December 26 Arthur R. Tendering, who had been Assistant, was appointed Chief. During Chief Moeller's long and honorable career, which was continued for so many years, irrespective of the political complexion of the city government, he had , the following Assistants: Henry Shearer, 1887-8; James Smith, January, 1889, to November 23, 1895, when he was obliged to retire on account of injuries received while in the performance of duty; John A. Warner, December 2, 1895, to September 5, 1899; Thomas N. Worm, September 5, 1899, to June 5, 1901; Arthur R. Tendering, June 5, 1901, to December 26, 1901, when he was promoted to succeed Chief Moeller (deceased), and D. E. Connell was appointed his successor.

To no branch of their public service are the citizens of Peoria more highly indebted than to their paid Fire Department. To their efficient organization and discipline is due that sense of security from the ravages of fire which all enjoy in so eminent a degree, and to them may be attributed the reasonable rates at which property in the city can be insured. Not only at home, but in neighboring towns and cities to which they have been called in cases of emergency, have their services proved of the highest benefit. Particularly was this the case at the time of a recent disastrous fire in the city of Bloomington, when their timely arrival and prompt and efficient action served to arrest the progress of a conflagration which threatened the destruction of the entire business portion of that city.

But it is to their self-sacrificing devotion to their work that is due the highest meed of praise— a devotion rendered at the risk of life or limb for which no salary payable in money is a sufficient compensation. Fortunately but few calamities of this kind have happened, yet all know they are liable to happen at any moment. The first serious accident occurred at the Chamber of Commerce Fire, January 29, 1888, when, by the falling of the roof, James Smith, Fireman, was covered and so burned and otherwise injured as to be unable to resume his duty for eleven months. At the same fire John Becker was severely injured by being struck by the end of a falling timber. On August 21, 1900, Barny Manning was killed by a falling wall at the fire which occurred at the Carroll Ice House. Several others were injured at the same time. These are only examples of what risks the firemen have to undergo.


In pursuance of the provisions of the statute a "Board of Trustees of the Firemen's Pension Fund" was organized June 24, 1895, with the following members: Jacob Heim, Charles R. Beeler, J. R. Conway, William T. Irwin, Carl Muller, of whom William T. Irwin, City Attorney, was chosen President, Charles R. Beeler, Treasurer, .and J. R. Conway, Secretary, with Thomas M. McIlvaine, Physician. The present officers are Henry Mansfield, City Attorney, President; Robert M. Orr, City Clerk, Secretary; John Thode, City Treasurer, Treasurer; the remaining members of the Board being James E. Pillsbury, Comptroller, and Arthur M. Tendering, Chief of the Fire Department. The sources of income are one per cent upon all licenses issued by the city, one per cent of all wages earned by such firemen as become members, to which in the future must be added twenty-five per cent on the license fee assessed upon all foreign insurance companies. In addition to these the firemen give an annual ball, the net proceeds of which are added to the fund, as are also the proceeds of exhibitions of moving pictures of the department in active operation, the control of which the members have secured and successfully exhibited in several neighboring cities; and with marked success at the Corn Carnivals held annually at Peoria. To these must be added numerous voluntary gifts from the citizens. The amount of available funds now on hand in cash and invested in City Improvement bonds, amounts to over $16,000. Six pensioners now reap the benefit of this fund. Three disabled firemen, the widow of the deceased chief, and two orphan children of one who lost his life in the service. The purposes of the fund are for the relief or pensioning of disabled and superannuated and retired members of the Fire Department, their widows and minor children, of which fund the City Treasurer, Clerk, Attorney, Chief of the Fire Department and the Comptroller ex-officio constitute the Board of Trustees. It is a fund which commends itself to the liberality of all citizens of Peoria.


The accessibility of Peoria as a crossing of the river suggested at an early date the feasibility of spanning it with a bridge. Accordingly an act of the Legislature was procured for a charter of "The Peoria Bridge Company" at its session in 1835. By the year 1838, one-half the stock had been subscribed, but the financial crisis then setting in, the bridge then projected was not erected. This was fortunate, for the charter provided for a draw for the passage of boats of only thirty feet in width. The great influx of population, from 1835 onward for some years, rendered the business of keeping a ferry at this point very profitable. At the December term of the County Commissioners' Court, 1835, a license was granted to Henry W. Cleveland to run the first steam ferry at the foot of the lake. At the December term, 1837, Aquila Wren, who had purchased this ferry, was permitted to land the same opposite the foot of Main or Fulton Street. On the opposite side he landed at a point in the bay (since then greatly narrowed) not far from the present limits of the village of East Peoria. A channel was cut through the low ground and a wharf constructed, the last vestige of which was carried away in the great flood of 1842. Cleveland laid out a village on the opposite side which disappeared long ago. (1)

Robert and James Moore also procured a license to run a ferry at Walnut Street. These conflicting interests led to an immense amount of litigation which was finally brought to an end by an act of the Legislature granting to William L. May, who had become the owner of the Bigelow & Underhill ferry at Bridge Street, the right to run a ferry there for the period of fifteen years, in consideration of which he was to pay annually into the treasury of Peoria County the sum of $50, and a like sum to the Town of Peoria, the latter to be expended in keeping up that part of the Peoria and Springfield road lying between the river and the top of the bluff. He was also to give free passage to all citizens of Tazewell County with their horses, wagons, carriages and other property when going to or return- ing from Peoria for the purpose of trading or consulting a physician or lawyer. The Trustees of Peoria were specially authorized to expend the above sum, and as much more as they might think proper, in improving the said road. And said William L. May was required to expend a like sum of $50 on the same annually.

In 1841 the charter was so changed as to give May the exclusive ferry franchise at that point for fifteen years, for which he was to pay into the treasury of Tazewell County the sum of $300 for the first year and $200 annually thereafter, the same to be expended on the said road from the south side of the river out to the highlands. Under this charter May operated his ferry until the building of the bridge.

By Act of the Legislature of 1845, William L. May and his associates obtained a charter to build a bridge at the same point, the County of Peoria to have the right to purchase the same on payment of the cost with six per cent. interest thereon, and in case of its failure to do so, the Town of Peoria was to have the same privilege.

The following epitome of its history was printed by the authority of the Association for the use of the public, and for years kept hanging in its toll-house:

"Dimensions of Peoria Bridge.

Full Length of Draw...............295 feet
Full do. of Span Work...........425 "
Full do. of Trestle Work......1,980 "
Total ..................................2,700 feet
Opening for Boats between Piers......................132 feet
Height from Low Water to Floor........................25 "
Height from Floor to Top of Frame.....................60 "
Height from Top of Frame to Top of Vane .........65 "
Total Height to Top of Vane..............................150 "

"High water in 1849, 19 feet, 10 inches above Low Water; High Water in 1858, 18 feet 1 inch above Low Water.

"Bridge first built in 1848. Carried away with the ice, spring of 1849. Rebuilt, and first crossed in October 29, 1849, by Mason & How. Swing carried away by steamboat Amazonia in 1852. Rebuilt and widened channel in '52. Span work rebuilt in '56 by Stone & Boomer—cost, $10,000. Trestle work in '57 by Major Hines—cost, $11,000. New cord to span work in 1862. New swing built and opened March 10, '64. New turn-table built by L. G. Baum, winter of '66 and '67—cost, $1,908, including new spider wheel, eight new wheels and axles, and turning twenty-four others, being eight wheels more than old one. Four spans of truss bridge built by L. G. Baum, in January and February, '69, between the end of How's truss and the R. R. crossing. The trestle work rebuilt on piles, cost about $15,000, finished on the loth of March, 1870. Three spans of How's Truss, with iron improvement, rebuilt from March, and finished in September, 1870, by L. G. Baum, mechanic. Cost about $12,000."

The bridge, with its viaduct on the Tazewell side as originally constructed, measured 2,600 feet, the length of the swing being then 195 feet. In 1852, the center pier was removed and the swing increased one hundred feet in length. About the year 1857, in consequence of the building of the railroad bridge, intersecting it at the Tazewell side of the river, and about three feet higher, the height of the wagon-road bridge from the water was increased by about three feet, and the viaduct was rebuilt and removed further from the railroad.

This bridge was purchased by the City of Peoria on the 3d day of November, 1886, since which time it has been operated as a free bridge and the City has undertaken to keep up the road leading thereto for a distance of 1,980 feet. About the same time the authorities of Peoria Township undertook the erection of a free bridge at the foot of the Narrows, which, after much litigation, was finally completed and is now in operation and known as the "Upper Free Bridge."


On February 12, 1853, Peter Sweat, Hugh J. Sweeney, George C. Bestor, William S. Moss and Henry Grove were granted a charter by the Legislature to become an incorporation by the name and style of "The Peoria Gas Light and Coke Company," with full power and authority to manufacture and sell gas, to be made from any or all the substances, or a combination thereof, from which inflammable gas is usually obtained, and to be used for the purpose of lighting the City of Peoria or the streets thereof, and any buildings, manufactories and public places or houses therein contained, and to erect all necessary works and apparatus, and to lay pipes for the purpose of conducting the gas in any of the streets or avenues of said city; the said company to have the exclusive privilege of supplying the city and its inhabitants with gas, for the purpose of affording light, for twenty-five years.

Prior to that time the street lights were poor indeed. It must be borne in mind that neither petroleum nor any of its products had yet come into use as an illuminating agent; the method of producing oil from bituminous coal had not been discovered; lard oil was used in limited quantities for illuminating dwellings and stores, camphene and spirit- gas produced from turpentine and alcohol were used only for private purposes. Street lamps supplied with whale oil were the chief reliance for lighting the streets, and the street lamps served only to point out the directions in which the streets ran, but for the protection of pedestrians they were practically of no use.

The transition from whale oil to an illuminating gas almost equal to the electric lights of the present day, and in marked contrast with the light-giving properties of gas produced from water and naphtha, produced a marked revolution in the social and business affairs of the city.

The company so formed immediately organized and proceeded with the erection of a plant on the river bank at the foot of Persimmon Street, where its works have ever since then been located. On September 15, 1853, the city entered into a contract with the company for the lighting of its streets, which contract provided for fifty lamps, distributed on the principal business streets. Although much dissatisfaction with the rates charged for gas had from time to time been expressed, and although several spasmodic attempts had been made to organize other companies to compete with it, the original company continued to maintain its ground to the exclusion of all others, not only for the twenty-five years provided for in its charter, but for many years thereafter, and not until the organization of the People's Gas and Electric Company did it meet with any serious competition, except in the matter of street lighting.

Electric lights were introduced into the city and began to be used for private purposes about the year 1884. On the eighth day of November, 1883, the City Council granted leave to the "Jenny Electric Light and Power Company" to set poles and to string wires in and along the streets of the city. That company then proceeded to established its plant and, in due time, began to furnish the citizens with electric light. On the 9th day of November, 1885, a contract was entered into by the city with the "Jenny Electric Light and Power Company" for the lighting of the streets for a period of five years. "The Peoria Gas Light and Coke Company" was immediately notified of this fact and was required to remove its lamps from the streets. This was the end of gas-lights and the beginning of electric lights for the streets of Peoria.

The "Jenny Electric Light and Power Company" filled its five-year contract, at which time the company obtained a second contract for five years, but at the end of two years some new arrangement was made and the name of that company was changed to the "Peoria General Electric Company," which continued to light the streets until the end of the year 1900. The "Peoria Gas and Electric Company" having been formed, now became a bidder for the lighting of the streets, and on November 1, 1900, a contract was entered into with George E. Macomber, of Augusta, Maine, for that purpose, and since that time that contract has been and is now being filled by that company.

" The "People's Gas and Electric Company" was incorporated March 21, 1899, under the General Incorporation Law, with a capital stock of $500,000, divided into shares of $100 each, to be located at Peoria and to have a duration of 99 years, of which capital stock Franklin T. Corning subscribed for 100 shares, Charles C. Clarke, 50; Chauncey D. Clarke, 50; George H. Littlewood 50; Fred. Luthy, 50; Robert D. Clarke, 50; H. Sandmeyer, Sr., 25; B. Warren, Jr., 50; Philo B. Miles, 25; 0. J. Bailey, 25; T. J. Miller, 150; Sumner R. Clarke, 4,375. The first Board of Directors were Sumner R. Clarke, Benjamin Warren, Jr., Franklin T. Corning, Oliver J. Bailey, George H. Littlewood, Theodore J. Miller and Philo B. Miles. Immediately after organizing, and having received the usual permit from the City Council, this company proceeded to erect new works and to lay an entirely new system of gas pipes in the streets and alleys in the city. To counteract this movement the "Peoria Gas Light and Coke Company" made large reductions. in the price of gas, but the new company, nothing daunted, went on and completed their works and began to deliver gas at still lower figures. Then followed a war in prices until it became manifest that, unless some adjustment could be made, great losses must accrue. The name of the "People's Gas and Electric Company" 'was on February 13, 1900, changed to that of the "Peoria Gas and Electric Company," under which name it entered into a contract with the city for the lighting of the streets as before stated. The new company seemed to have become a dangerous rival to the old, and the stockholders of the latter began to sell their stock to parties interested in the new. This process of absorption has been going on until now it seems to be almost if not quite complete. Both companies still maintain offices adjoining each other, the former price of gas has been restored, the war has been ended and the people who expected such great things from the formation of the "People's Gas and Electric Company," and who have two sets of gas pipes in their cellars, are wondering what it all means.

In the meantime, certain of the aggrieved ones have caused proceedings to be instituted to inquire by what right or authority all this has been brought about, the outcome of which must be left for some future historian to tell.


Long before the railroad had reached Peoria, the city was in communication with the rest of the world by the magnetic telegraph. Prior to the month of June, 1848, the city of St. Louis had been placed in communication by telegraph with the eastern cities. One Henry O'Reily, of Albany, New York, seems to have been at the head of this great enterprise, and through his efforts lines were being extended through the Northwestern States. The line was completed to Peoria on the 16th day of June, 1848, and at .4 o'clock, T. M. of that day Springfield was called by Mr. R. Chadwick and the response "Aye, Aye" came in the Morse characters. Communication was then solicited with St. Louis, informing .them that Peoria was calling. At about 9 o'clock the same evening the Editor of the Peoria Register sent the following dispatch to the Editor of the St. Louis Republican: "Respects of the Peoria Register to the Whig Presses of St. Louis. The prairies are on fire for 'Rough and Ready.' The Illinois boys who stood by 'the old man' at Buena Vista will not desert him on the 7th of November." It is related as one of the marvels of the telegraph that these communications were received by the operator, Mr. Chadwick, from the sound of the magnet without the aid of the register. The next achievement recorded is that, at noon of the day next after the Presidential election of 1848, the result had been communicated fully 2,000 miles in this republic, the vote in Boston being known at Peoria at n o'clock A. M. The astounding fact is also mentioned that a message from Philadelphia to St. Louis had outstripped the flight of time by just one hour.

As Peoria has always kept in the front rank in the march of improvements, so, on this occasion her citizens took hold of this new and rapid means .of communication with the rest of the world. On April 14, 1849, William Mitchell, secretary of the "Illinois and Mississippi Telegraph Company," a corporation then forming at Peoria, presented to the County Commissioners' Court for the purpose of having the same recorded as required by
law, the articles of association of said company, in pursuance of an Act of the General Assembly, approved February 9, 1849, entitled an "Act for the Establishment of Telegraphs." As stated in the articles of association, the Company was formed for the purpose of maintaining the following lines of telegraph then established: Commencing at Chicago in the State of Illinois, establishing stations at Lockport, Ottawa, Peru, Peoria, Springfield, Jacksonville, Alton, St. Louis, Missouri, Beardstown, Rushville, Quincy, Hannibal (Missouri) ; Keokuk, Burlington and Bloomington (now Muscatine), Iowa; Rock Island, Dixon, Dubuque (Iowa) to Galena in the State of Illinois, and to erect, establish and maintain such further lines of telegraph in the State of Illinois, and their connections with such other points and places in said States of Missouri and Iowa, and in the State of Wisconsin and the Territory of Minnesota, and elsewhere as said association and their successors and assigns might deem expedient. The capital of said company was to be $500,000, divided into shares of $50 each, which was held as follows: A. G. Henry, of Springfield, 200 shares; Francis Voris, Peoria, 240; Wm. Hempstead, Galena, 220; Timothy Davis, Dubuque, 240; John Dean Caton, Ottawa, 64; Henry S. Beebe, 140, Gains Jenkins, 60, both of Lockport; C. G. Oshea, Chicago, 210; John McDonald, Beardstown, 100; Henry O'Reily, Albany, for Alton, 200; Sanford J. Smith, St. Louis, 400; G. K. Gunnigal, St. Louis, 20; Hart Fellows, Rushville, 40; Lorenzo Bull, Quincy, 288; Henry N. Starr, Burlington, 240; Sanford J. Smith for Bloomington, 160; same for Hannibal, 200; same for Keokuk, 100; C. G. Oshea for Dixon, 40; same for Davenport, too; same for Rock Island, 100; same for Morris, 60; Henry O'Reily for Jacksonville, 80; same for Albany for himself and associates and for the patentees, 4,438. Power was also given to increase the capital stock and number of members as they might think proper. The charter was to commence April 11, 1849, and to terminate January I, 1950. The articles were acknowledged by fifteen of the subscribers to the stock before William Mitchell, Clerk of the County Commissioners' Court, April 11, 1849, and filed for record on the same day. The Company was then organized with Francis Voris as President, and Lewis Howell as Secretary, both of Peoria. All the lines then belonging to the O'Reily system were transferred to this company and Peoria thus became the headquarters of the entire telegraph system of the State.

Two years later the system embraced the following lines: beginning at St. Louis, thence to Alton, to Jacksonville by way of Delhi, Jerseyville, Kane, Carrollton, White Hall, and Manchester ; thence east following the railroad to Springfield, a total distance from St. Louis of 131 miles; from Springfield to Peoria by way of Middletown, Delavan, Dillon and Groveland, 169 miles from St. Louis; from Peoria by way of Chillicothe and Henry to Peru, thence to Ottawa, thence by Morris and Lockport, following the canal to Chicago, 160 miles from Peoria and 356 miles from St. Louis. This was the main line. At Jacksonville a branch line started passing through New Lexington to Beardstown, thence through Frederick to Rushville, from Rushville through Ripley to Mt. Sterling, thence through Clayton and Columbus to Quincy, 196 miles from Peoria; from Quincy the line ran north through
Ursa, Lima and Warsaw, crossing the Mississippi at Churchville, Missouri, thence to Keokuk and from Keokuk through Montrose and Fort Madison to Burlington; from Burlington to Wapello, the county-seat of Louisa County on the Iowa River; thence to Muscatine, thence to Davenport, where it crossed the river to Rock Island. This was the Southern Branch; the distance from Jacksonville to Rock Island being 269 miles, from St. Louis 365 miles and from Peoria 369 miles. From Quincy a short line of 20 miles ran on the east side of the River to within a mile of Hannibal, where it crossed and terminated at that place. Another branch called the North Branch started at Peru running thence to Dixon and thence by Mt. Carroll and Elizabeth to Galena, thence crossing the River to Dubuque in Iowa, distant from Peru, 122 miles, from Peoria 187 miles and from St. Louis 338 miles; making the aggregate length of the main line and its branches 767 miles. These distances were given by the chronicler, Mr. Drown, to show that Peoria was in the center of a great line of telegraphic communication, connecting three States within its range, and having telegraphic communication with New York, Boston and New Orleans.

The business done in Peoria during the month of May, 1850, amounted to 750 messages sent and received, the gross receipts .being $178.94; during the month of June, 697 messages, the gross receipts being $193.02. For the last three months of 1850, the business tabulates as follows:

October, 749 Messages, Gross receipts. . $203.87
November, 874 Messages, Gross receipts. . 254.75
December, 767 Messages, Gross receipts. . 211.76

In regard to the profits the Democratic Press remarked as follows:

"If the expenses in keeping up the lateral lines were not such a draw-back, the stock of the principal line would pay handsomely. Quincy is a smart sort of place; but we have to support the telegraph for her."

When it is considered that in May, 1846, the latest news relating to the breaking out of the Mexican war was received through New York and New Orleans newspapers, each requiring ten days to reach Peoria, the esta- blishment within two years of connecting lines of two thousand miles in length, and that in two years more Peoria had become the center of a system covering over 700 miles, over which intelligence could be flashed instant- aneously, and then consider the marvelous growth of that system during the half century just closed, the mind becomes astounded at this wonderful invention of Professor Morse.

That Peorians were not unappreciative of the benefits of this great invention is demonstrated by their rejoicing over the completion of the first Ocean Telegraph. On August 9, 1858, the announcement was made in the "Peoria Republican" that this great feat, over which the world had been watching with intense interest, had been accomplished. Arrangements were set on foot for a celebration of the event with a grand supper at the Peoria House, which came off according to appointment on the evening of the 3d of September. Brilliant speeches were made and high hopes expressed of the inestimable benefits to be derived from this great enterprise. But in a short time Peorians, with all the civilized world, were destined to disappointment by the failure of the cable, and to have their hopes deferred for a period of eight years.

The office was first opened for business on the second floor of a three-story building, erected by Francis Voris in 1846 and then owned by him, long known as the Farrell drug store, now No. 117 Main Street. The office remained there until the death of Mr. Voris in 1852, after which time Hon. John Dean Caton became President and got control of the line. Although at first the profits were small, yet when it began to be known. how great the advantages would be to the railroads resulting from its use, enormous sums were paid by them to the companies having control of the patents. In this way Judge Caton and his associates reaped handsome fortunes. The lines of this company were ultimately leased to the Western Union Company by a perpetual lease paying eight per cent. on the capital stock.

Mr. Chadwick was the first operator. About that time Mr. Voris, having taken a fancy to William Yontz, a bright young lad, son of John Yontz, proprietor of the Clinton House, put him in the telegraph office to become an operator under the tutelage of Mr. Chadwick. The next year John Yontz, being seized with the gold fever, took his family to California where the boy engaged in the telegraph business and eventually became the Superintendent of all the lines of the Western Union Company on the Pacific Coast. "One of the strange things," remarks our informant (Henry T. Baldwin, who was a member of Mr. Voris' family), "in connection with the business - which has been marked by vast improvements, is that the glass insulators are substantially the same as those adopted over fifty years ago."

It is not easy to follow with exactness the different movements of the telegraph office for the first few years. It is certain no great amount of room was required, for the entire outfit could have been accommodated on a single desk or table no larger than those now in use at ordinary way stations on a railroad; one operator, and possibly young Yontz as the first messenger boy, at Peoria constituting the entire force.

It is not always an easy matter to assign the chief operator to his proper official position, he being sometimes designated as manager and sometimes as operator. From the Peoria Directory the following facts have been gleaned: In 1850 the office was located on the second floor of a building on the corner of Main and Water Streets, probably on the west corner, the first floor of which was occupied by the Central Bank and the third floor by the "Daily and Weekly News." W. H. Parsons was the manager. In 1857, the office was under the Peoria House adjoining the Post Office. Richmond Smith was operator, Hon. John Dean Caton was President, and the headquarters of the company had been removed to Ottawa, where he then resided. About this time or soon afterwards the manufacture of telegraph apparatus was commenced in that city, but the factory has long since ceased to operate. Lewis Howell was still Secretary. In 1858, the company retained its original name but, in consequence of its connection with other companies, its lines had by this time become known as the Caton Lines. Richmond Smith was then manager. In 1859, the office was located at No. 5, North Adams Street, second floor, where it remained three or four years, James G. Thornton being manager in 1859, and Robert S. Fowler in 1860. In 1863 the office was at No. 27 Main Street, where the drug store of Robert Davis now is, Richmond Smith being operator. About this time, or before, the company was leased to the Western Union, under which name it has gone ever since that time. Although the street numbers had been changed in the directories, yet it is known the company continued to maintain its office in the same building for several years thereafter, during a portion of which time it had offices at other points in the City. During this year Mr. Joseph E. Ranney, formerly manager at Bureau Junction, took control of the office in this City and occupied that position until 1882. When he first took possession the business was done over a single wire. The messages were first sent to Bureau Junction, there re-transmitted to Chicago and thence to other desired points. Mr. Ranney, with one night operator and one messenger boy, did the entire work, and the sum of five to seven dollars a day was considered a fair day's earnings. During the war, however, the business multiplied rapidly; the number of wires increased and improve- ments in methods of transmission grew with the demands of the times.

When the Board of Trade was organized and became located at its new quarters on the west corner of Fulton and Washington Streets (now the Zell, Hotchkiss & Co. Bank), the Western Union started an office there, and when the Chamber of Commerce was opened it occupied an office in that building, where it still remains. The following managers have succeeded Mr. Ranney: J. McRobie, 1882-1884; B. H. Griffin, 1884-1894; E. Adams, 1894-1899; R. C. Baker, 1899 to the present time.

Rival companies have from time to time been started, but with one exception they have all been absorbed by the Western Union, or finding it an unprofitable field have abandoned it. From 1871 until 1876 the Great Western Telegraph Company maintained an office at the following places: In 1871-2, at No. 25 Main Street, adjoining that of the Western Union; in 1875, at No. 102 Fulton Street and at the Peoria House; in 1876, at No. 102 Fulton Street, B. F. Herrington being manager. In 1877 the Atlantic and Pacific Company appeared to have an office, but the location is not given. In Oct., 1881, the Mutual Union Telegraph Company was granted the right to construct a line from the bridge to Commercial Street, thence to the alley on northeast side of the Chamber of Commerce, thence to Liberty Street, thence along the alley to Main Street, thence to Adams Street. By a subsequent ordinance the route was somewhat changed.

On June 6, 1882, the "Board of Trade Telegraph Company" was granted leave to construct a line from the bridge to the Chamber of Commerce on nearly the same route as the other. On October 3, 1882, the Mutual Union was granted leave to extend its lines southward to the sugar refinery, at or near Sanger Street.

The "American Union Telegraph Company" also seems to have done business in Peoria from 1881 to 1882. All these companies shared the same fate.

The "Bankers' and Merchants' Telegraph Company" commenced business in Peoria probably as early as 1882. On May 6, 1884, it was granted leave to construct a line from Harrison to Main Street on the upper side of Commercial Alley. This was probably only an extension of an already existing line. It became merged in the "Postal Telegraph Company" in 1885. The Postal System is the result of a combination of independent lines reaching all important points in the United States, Canada and British America. It operates four cables of its own to Europe and connects with two more, as well as with two to South America. Its office in Peoria is equipped with the latest devices in telegraphing, having its own dynamo and other up-to-date appliances. It is at present the only rival of the Western Union Company in the city.


The site of the City of Peoria is so well adapted by nature, that little has been needed in the way of grading the public streets. It is not so, however, in respect to sewerage. The streets running parallel with the river maintain an almost perfect level throughout their entire length, while those running from the river towards the bluff rise gradu- ally until the summit of the plateau is reached, about on a line with Monroe Street, if extended through the city. From that point there is a gradual descent towards the foot of the bluff, thus causing a depression or swale between the highest point of the plateau and the foot of the bluffs, increasing in width from the neighborhood of Evans Street to the southern limit of the City. On this account, as well as on account of the difficulty in draining the lands on top of the bluff, deep sewers have become a necessity.

In former times, in seasons of heavy rains or melting snows, the surface waters flowing from the bluffs, as well as those issuing from springs and a small stream running through Frink's Hollow at the head of Jackson Street, found their way into a low place towards the southern limits of the city, familiarly called Goose Lake. When Main Street was graded between Glendale Avenue and the bluff, and the land lying to the northeast of it was filled in, the waters coming from the bluff in that section were diverted from their original course and caused to accumulate to the northeast of Main Street, and sometimes to flow along Hale Street, now Glendale Avenue. This caused trouble. Dr. Mortimer Nevins' Water Cure building at the foot of the bluff was greatly injured and the city was compelled to pay him damages in the celebrated suit of Nevins against the City of Peoria. This suit was con- ducted with marked skill and ability by Marion Williamson, Esq., and in it was first established, in this State, the principle that, in improving its streets, the city had no right to divert the flow of water from its natural course so as to injure the property of the adjoining owners.

To avoid further trouble, the city undertook to relieve the property holders in that section of the city by the construction of a culvert at the head of Jackson Street, to bring the water from the bluff in that neighborhood into Hale Street, and thence to the river through a deep cut in Morgan Street. This improvement was accomplished and did good service for many years, but it was still found insufficient to relieve the property holders on Hale Street, and the city was again called upon to answer to a suit brought by Isaac Underhill.

As the western portion of the city increased in population, and as the property there became more valuable, a demand came for the relief of the owners of land overflowed by Goose Lake, and to accomplish this purpose a deep sewer was constructed with lateral branches, having its main outlet at Oak Street. This was the first extensive effort made to relieve that portion of the city of its surplus waters by underground sewers. But this improvement was only local in character, and it afterwards became incorporated into a more general system adapted to the wants of the entire city.

Prior to the adoption of any general system, however, there had been some local sewers constructed, covering that portion of the city lying between Main and Bridge Streets. A general system of sewers was adopted about the year 1900, and has been steadily pursued until a large portion of the city has been covered. Latterly, also the villages of South Peoria, West Peoria and North Peoria have been annexed, neither one of which had a general sewerage system.

The city is divided into sewerage districts, the property in each being assessed for the sewers constructed therein. These districts are known by the streets through which the main sewers are constructed, or by the territory intended to be drained. Commencing at the northern limits of the city they are as follows: Caroline Street, Spring Street, Green Street, Jackson Street, Main Street and Walnut Street districts and the West Bluff district, which has two main outlets, one on Cedar Street and the other at the outlet of the old Goose Lake sewer on Oak Street.

The sewers are constructed mostly of vitrified earthen pipes, of which there are 50.6 miles constructed. There are also circular brick sewers, of which there are 11.5 miles, and egg-shaped brick sewers, of which there are 8.7 miles—making m all about 70.8 miles of sewers already constructed in the city. The vitrified pipes range in diameter from six inches to twenty inches; the circular brick sewers range from twenty-four to eighty-eight inches in diameter; and the egg-shaped brick sewers range from 1 foot 6 inches by 2 feet 3 inches to 4 feet by 5 feet in diameter.

The total area of the city is 5,303 acres, or 8.28 square miles; of which 2,076 acres, or 3.24 square miles (or 39.1 per cent. of the whole area), is provided with sewers. Some of these were laid very deep and required a marked degree of engineering skill. Particularly was this so with the main sewer on Saratoga Street, which affords an outlet to the drainage on the west bluff. The construction of this sewer attracted much attention of engineers from other cities. It is expected that, as the population increases, the system will be extended throughout the en-
tire city.


The ground upon which Peoria is built is principally composed of sand, with a mixture of loam on the surface. In their unimproved state the streets were usually dry, except in the spring of the year, when the frost was coming out, at which season they sometimes became, very bad. The citizens of Peoria did not, therefore, realize the necessity of constructing any street pavements, or the covering of them with plank, as was done elsewhere, for many years. When the necessity did arise, experiments of different kinds were tried, with only partial success. Gravel was laid upon some of the streets, but, for want of proper skill in placing it, or the neglect of the city in keeping it clean after being laid, it was a practical failure. Others were covered with broken stone, usually deno- minated macadam. But with this the city made but little better success than with the gravel. Main Street was one
of the principal streets macadamized. White cedar blocks were tried on North Adams Street, but these were soon abandoned for something better. Cobble stones were used on several of the streets leading from the river towards the bluff, but these also have been mostly replaced by pavement of other kinds. It was thought, at one time, that the granite or Belgian block would be the right thing for Peoria, and Washington Street from Main to Locust was improved with that material. It was found, however, to be too rough and unsuited to the tastes and demands of the people doing business on that street. About the year 1885, the first experiment was tried with brick pavement on Hamilton Street, between Adams and Monroe, a length of 1,280 feet, 60 feet wide, and containing a total of 9,226 square yards. This pavement was laid with a double course of common hard-burned brick on a six-inch gravel foundation. Sixteen years of service have demonstrated the utility of this character of pavement under proper usage. Apparent defects have been caused by the opening of the street for the purpose of making gas, water and sewer connections, but latterly the requirements of the city have been such that all these connections must be made before the laying of the pavement, which measure will insure greater durability to the street improvements. Improved qualities of brick have also been adopted.

In 1891 the first asphalt pavement was laid on Moss Avenue, from Elizabeth Street to Malvern Street, a length of 3,624 feet and a width of 30 feet. Since then asphalt has been laid every year, except in 1893 and 1898—the largest amount (53,358 square yards) having been laid in 1896.

A new pavement, composed of broken stone, somewhat in the nature of macadam pavement, and called Novaculite, was first laid in the year 1900 on Dechman Avenue, from Pennsylvania to Nebraska Avenues, a distance of 1,705 feet.

From 1885 to 1888, inclusive, there had been laid 24,302 square yards of cedar blocks, all of which had been taken up and replaced prior to the first day of January, 1901. Some time previous to 1896, there had been laid 28,116 square yards of cobble-stones, of which 12,690 square yards yet remain, the balance having been taken up and replaced by other varieties of paving. Also, prior to 1896, there had been laid 47,378 square yards of stone blocks, of which only 12,690 square yards still remain.

There are short sections of macadam pavements still existing on Adams Street, between Chicago and South Streets, and on Glen-Oak Avenue, northeast of Jackson Street. Stone block pavements still exist on Adams Street, between Cedar and Chicago Streets, on Knoxville Avenue, between Main and Hamilton, and on Spencer Street, between Seventh and Moss Avenues. Short sections of cobble-stone pavements yet remain, on Chestnut Street, between Adams and Washington Streets; on Harrison, between Jefferson and Water Streets; on Oak Street, between Depot and Washington Streets; on Union Street, between Seventh and Moss Avenues, and on Walnut Street, between Adams and Water Streets. The other principal streets of the city are all paved with either brick or asphalt, the proportions of each being shown by the following table:

The following table shows the amounts and character (in square yards and length in miles) of paving laid each year upon the streets and alleys of the city, including the right of way of the Central Railway


The paving of alleys commenced about the year 1887. The alleys already paved, with two exceptions, are 18 feet wide, and are all paved with, brick, with the exception of five blocks—two between Adams and Washington Streets, two between Monroe and Madison Avenues, and one between Jefferson and Adams. The total length of
these alley pavements is over 16,000 feet.


The first sidewalks laid in the city were generally composed of coal ashes and cinders brought from the various factories. The first brick pavements were laid on Water Street and on Main, between Water and Adams Streets. Board or plank sidewalks were afterwards constructed, extending along the principal streets in the city, hut these have been mostly removed. The character and length of the sidewalks in the old city on the first day of January, 1901, are shown by .the following table:

Brick............ 484,175 lineal feet or 91.70 miles
Plank............ 44,340 " " " 8.39 "
Cement.......... 47,779 " ' " 9.05 "
Artificial stone.... 435 " " " 0.08 "
Flagstone ........ 5,125 " " " 0.97 "
Tar.............. 16,569 " " " 3.14 "
Cobblestone...... 575 " " " 0.11 "
Total, 608,698 113.44

No data are at hand from which the amount of sidewalks already constructed in the annexed portions of the city can be estimated. The largest proportion, however, consists of plank, but there are a number of sidewalks constructed of cement and brick.

Prior to the year 1877 there had been no established grade for the City. Every street was graded according to the best judgment of the City Engineer and the City Council then in office. Consequently there was no uniformity. It
is true that attempts had been made by one or two of the engineers to establish a uniform grade, but only to be disregarded by their successors.

In the year 1877, however, a general survey of the city was made under the direction of a skillful engineer named Chesbrough, in pursuance of which a permanent grade was established for the entire city, which has since been followed. By it all grades of streets and alleys are referred to a datum plane one hundred feet below a fixed point at the top of the fourth flute on the south angle of the Corner Stone of the Court House. From this point the grades of all streets are determined. Low water mark in the Illinois River before the construction of the dam at Copperas
Creek, was 22.55 feet above this datum plane, to which must now be added three feet for the additional depth of water caused by the dam, without reference to the additional flow of water from the Chicago Drainage Canal. The several different elevations of the City may be briefly indicated as follows: Following the line of Main Street, as now graded, the elevation in feet of the several streets above the datum plane are as follows: Water Street, 47.50; Washington, 65.50; Adams, 86.00; Jefferson, 96.20; Madison, 102.00; Monroe, 108.50; Perry, 114.90; Glendale, 117.00; Globe, 120.00; Bluff, 137.00; High street, 197.50; while the highest point reached is at the intersection of Knoxville and Illinois Avenues, where it reaches 235.90.


Prior to the year 1870 there were no regular lines of public conveyances for passengers in the City of Peoria. It had long been thought that an omnibus line on Adams Street would be a paying investment, but no one seemed to have the courage to make tee venture. At length, in February, 1867, a charter was obtained for a street railway, the company being named the "Central City Street Railway Company." Stock was subscribed and a meeting of stockholders was held, but the project was for the time being abandoned as unprofitable. The first Board of Directors consisted of De Witt C. Farrell, John C. Proctor, John L. Griswold, Horace G. Anderson and Washington Cockle. These having resigned, a new Board was elected on August 7, 1868, of which William R. Bush was made President; Nelson Burnham, Secretary, and Edward H. Jack, Treasurer. Yet nothing was done for
another year, when, on October 4, 1869, a new Board consisting of William Reynolds, John L. Griswold, Washington Cockle, Henry R. Woodward, Joseph W. Cochran, Joseph H. Wright and James T. Rogers was elected. William Reynolds was chosen President, Joseph W. Cochran, Secretary, and James T. Rogers, Treasurer. Two days later the City Council granted this company the right to construct its tracks over certain streets, covering a large portion of the city. On October 7, 1869, the Company took steps to build 275 a line two miles in length, commencing at South Street. Edward J. Cowell obtained the contract for building the road and furnishing four horse cars for the sum of $20,000. It was completed on December 31, 1869, and cars began running on January 15, 1870. The enterprise at once began to show signs of profit and, within one month from the day the cars first began to run, it was resolved to continue the line from Main Street to the hollow near the ''American Pottery." This was soon completed and the next spring it was extended to the "Central Park," which the Company had in the meantime purchased and fitted up as a place of resort. Subsequently, in 1875, an artesian well was sunk there, bath-houses and natatorium were provided, and it has ever since been maintained as a pleas- ant place to retire from the heat and vexations of life in a city. This was the only company chartered directly by the Legislature. After 1870 all such corporations had to be organized under the provisions of the general incorpora- tion law. Under this law the Peoria Horse Railway Company was organized. On November 10, 1871, the City Council granted it the right of way for a double track along Washington Street from Persimmon to Main, along Main Street and the Farmington road to Elizabeth Street, along high Street from Main to Elizabeth, and along Elizabeth north to the city limits; also for a single track along Floral Street to Bourland, on Bourland to Hansel, on Hansel Street to city limits; also along North Street from Main to Armstrong Avenue and along Armstrong Avenue and Taylor Street to Bluff Street; also along the Knoxville road from Main Street to the city limits. A glance at the map will show that this grant includes all the tracks on the Center and West Bluffs, the Main Street track and that on Washington Street to the Union Depot.

The Fort Clark Horse Railway Company was organized May 17, 1873, by Jacob Darst, John S. French, John H. Hall, William E. S. Bunn and Jacob Littleton. In anticipation of their doing so, the City Council on August 6, 1872, granted them permission to construct their tracks along certain streets, the initial point being the intersection of Franklin and Second Streets. From that point one line was to follow Franklin and Bridge to Water Street, another to follow Second, Spencer, Smith, McReynolds, South Madison, Howett, Shelby and Lincoln Avenues to the city limits. Another was to follow Franklin, Monroe, Mary and Perry Streets to the city limits. On August 13, 1874, this company was granted leave to extend its tracks from the intersection of Jefferson and Second Streets to Harrison, thence on Harrison to Adams, thence along Adams and Main to Monroe Street, but on Adams and Main Streets they should use the tracks of any other road having tracks on the same, which they should acquire by purchase, by condemnation or other legal means. In attempting to enforce this grant by condemnation this company got into a long litigation with the Central City Company, in which the latter was successful. The two roads, running parallel with each other, a rivalry sprang up between them which was never settled and which finally led to the absorption of the Fort Clark by the Central City Company.

On April 20, 1888, the Central Railway Company was organized to take the place of the Central City Horse Railway Company and the Peoria Horse Railway Company, and to change the motive power from that of horses to electricity. On May 16, 1889, the City Council granted it the right of way over all the streets named in the grants to the two former companies and some others. The Peoria Horse Railway then became consolidated with the Central City under its new name.

On May 18, 1891, the Fort Clark Company was granted the right to use electricity instead of horse or mule power and on March 11, 1892, it changed its name to that of "Fort Clark Street Railway Company."

On December 10,1891, the Peoria Rapid Transit Company was organized in the interest of the Central Company and laid its tracks on Monroe, Fifth and Sixth Streets as they now are. The Fort Clark Road being thus paralleled on all sides by the tracks of the Central Road in close proximity, was unable to compete longer with that powerful organization and it soon fell into its hands. The Central Railway Company now practically owns and operates all the lines in the city (with the exception of that leading from the intersection of Main Street and Glendale Avenue to Prospect Heights), including a line through Averyville and one on lower Adams Street, through what until recently was South Peoria, also a line in Richwoods Township leading from Knoxville Avenue to Corrington Avenue at the race tracks. Its officers are Walter Barker, President ; Samuel Woolner, Jr., Vice-President; J. B. Greenhut, Second Vice-president; J. N. Ward, Secretary; H. J. Woodward, Treasurer; John Finley, General Manager, and Eugene Tetu, Cashier.

The Peoria Heights Street Railway Company was organized October 1, 1892.

The Glen Oak and Prospect Heights Railway Company was organized May 7, 1896. These two companies were doubtless intended for local and temporary purposes in connection with certain new enterprises set on foot in the neighborhood of the present village of Prospect Heights.

The Peoria and Prospect Heights Railway Company was incorporated December 17, 1697. It has in operation a single track road, commencing at the intersection of Main Street and Glendale Avenue and running along several streets until it reaches the old Mount Hawley road at the Alps, and follows the same past Glen Oak Park and Springdale Cemetery to the village of Prospect Heights. Its stock is held largely by the stockholders of the Central City Company, but as yet no consolidation of the two roads has been effected.

There is also an electric road running from Peoria to Pekin, called the "Peoria and Pekin Traction Company." It uses the tracks of the Central Railway Company from Western Avenue to Hamilton Street, making a loop on Fulton Street, Jefferson Avenue and Hamilton Street, reaching the main line again at the corner of Hamilton and Adams.

Several changes in the routes have been made since the lines were originally constructed. From the West Bluff, called the Main Street line, the cars run on Main to Adams, on Adams to Chestnut, on Chestnut to the Union Depot. On Adams Street cars run the whole length of the City. From the East Bluff or Knoxville Avenue line, they run down Main and Adams Street to Oak, thence on Oak and Hurlbut Streets. The Rapid Transit line runs down Main and Washington Streets to the Union Depot. The Monroe Street line runs down Hamilton Street to Jefferson Avenue, thence to the intersection of Second and Sanlord Streets, where it branches,—one line running west on Second Street to the city limits, the other on Sanford, Warner, Howett and Lincoln Avenue. For the present the Central Railway Company seems to control the situation and has a practical monopoly of all the street
railways in the City.


The first telephones came into practical use in the City of Boston in the month of May, 1877. Just two years later they were introduced into the City of Peoria. There were at first two rival inventions, that of Professor Alexander Graham Bell and that of Thomas A. Edison, both of which were introduced here.

On May 15, 1879, Messrs. Charles B. Allaire and Walter S. Reyburn, under the firm name of Allaire & Reyburn, opened an exchange with thirty-six subscribers. It was the Bell system and was located on the third floor of the old Board of Trade building, on the corner of Fulton and Washington Streets, now known as the Zell, Hotchkiss & Co. Bank Building.

In the month of August following the Western Union Telegraph Company, which then controlled the Edison patent, opened an exchange in the Chamber of Commerce, under the name of "The Edison Telephone Company." The rivalry between the two companies became spirited, the Edison Company furnishing instruments at lower rates than its rival, so that by the year 1880 it had 271 instruments in use, while the Allaire & Reyburn had only 183. The latter company then bought out their rival, since which time the Bell has been the only instrument in use in Peoria. In the year 1883 the firm of Allaire & Reyburn was succeeded by ''The Central Illinois Telephone Company," of which D. H. Lauderbaugh, of Chicago, was President; Charles B. Allaire, Treasurer, and Walter S. Reyburn, Secretary and Manager. This company continued to operate the system in Peoria until the year 1885, when it was succeeded by the "Central Union Telephone Company," which at that time was made up of several companies operating in the States of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Ohio. From that time until the pre- sent this company has continued to operate all the telephones in the City with out opposition.

The exchange remained in its first quarters until April 1, 1899, when it removed into its new building, at Nos. 308 and 310 Fulton Street. This building was erected and is owned by the Central Union Telephone Company, and is one of the most perfectly equipped of its kind in the country. It has now in use about 3,250 telephones, operatedby about 115 employes.

From Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Peoria County, Edited by David McCulloch, Vol. II; Chicago and Peoria: Munsell Publishing Company, Publishers, 1902.




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