William Corner.

San Antonio de Bexar; a guide and history online

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the right to purchase the same shall inure to the City every five years thereafter,
the City to give twelve months' notice of its intention to buy.

The amended contract or ordinance was made on January 29th, 1881, when
Mr. J. H. French was mayor, and when Mr. Brack enridge had acquired the con-
trol of the Water Works Company, he being President of the Company at that
date. The features of the amendment were the relinquishment by the City of the
rental of $500 per annum, that the Company was to pay taxes on an assessment
up to the amount of $250,000, and that at the expiration of the contract if the
City should ' ' avail itself of the right to purchase, and the parties cannot agree as
to price, the matter is to be decided by arbitration."

To return to the work done by J. B. lyacoste and associates under the original
contract. Credit must be given to the first engineer of the works, Mr. W. R.
Freeman, for the simple and effective scheme to utilize the water power of the
River to pump the water of the Head to a still higher level, to obtain sufficient
pressure. The reservoir, was not constructed upon the site originally selected,
but on the summit of a higher hill in the eastern vicinity of the Head of the
River. The raceway, however, was constructed as designed without interfering
to any appreciable degree with the supply of water to the irrigation ditches.
And the turbines did good service for many years. The works were duly
finished under the original contract, and upon completion, they were tested and
re-tested, and on July 5th, 1878, Mr. J. P. Newcomb, Chairman of the Com-
mittee on Water Works, etc., reported to the Council that the Water Works had
been duly finished on July 3d, 1878, and recommended that the following reso-
lution be adopted : " Resolved, That the City of San Antonio hereby formally
accept the Water Works constructed by J. B. Lacoste and associates under the
contract made with the City under Section 560 of Digest of Revised Ordinances.
This acceptance to date from 3d day of July, 1878." This report and the
accompanying resolution was unanimously adopted July 5th, 1S78.

There was for some time but poor patronage for the Water Works. People
had to be educated to the importance of their new acquisition. Prejudice had to
be overcome. Mr. Lacoste disposed of his interest, and the Works took a new lease
of life under the Brackenridge rule. With a serene faith in the future of the
City, Mr. Brackenridge has yearly put and advised his Company to put thousands


and thousands of dollars underground, until to-day the City has a vast network
of iron pipes.

For several years there have been factions, each having a different opinion
as to the proper mode of settling this question as to the ownership of the Works.
For a long time previous to 1885 attacks on the validity of the contract were
constant from certain quarters. This, however, was temporarily set at rest by an
exhaustive opinion by Mr. S. G. Newton, who was City Attorney in that year.
He decided : " I am of the opinion that the City Administration was authorized
under its Charter to make the contract, and that the contract contains no pro-
visions that invalidate it." Others again now advocate that the City should con-
demn the property. This policy could not be defended upon any just ground,
for it behooves a City Council or Corporation to be as just and honest as the indi-
vidual. The purchase of the Water Works is, as we go to press, the burning
question of the hour. An offer from the San Antonio Water Works to sell the
Works for $2,000,000 is before the people. Mayor Callaghan with characteristic
foresight is strongly in favor of the purchase. Being a man of progress and hav-
ing in view first and foremost the best interests of the City, he urges upon the
citizens the necessity of a system of sewers. Such a work he argues cannot be
economically carried out unless the control of water is in the hands of the own-
ers of the system of sewers. Water is indispensable to the best systems.
"Recognizing," he says, "the growing needs of the citizens for proper sewage
works," he held, "that a water supply was of utmost necessity and consideration,
and to this end he would urge the purchase of the Water Works plant." The
citizens trust him. Nothing he has done has forfeited this confidence. He has
done much to win it. Yet no one knows better than he that from some quarters
he will get hard knocks for his pains. No one cares less for hard knocks when he
thinks himself to be in the right. It is this independent and progressive spirit
that has earned for him a long lease of the Mayor's seat. A lease that is not
likely soon to expire unless he seeks or has thrust upon him the honor of repre-
senting this district in the National Congress. His influence is almost an
assurance that the purchase will be favorably voted upon by the citizens on Sep-
tember 80th. It has been shown how on a former occasion, the citizens by
opposing a farseeing Mayor (Thielepape in 1872), upon a similar question, in a
great measure sowed the seeds of the harvest that to-day has to be gathered. It
is wisest to make the best of the crop as it stands.

It is not within the scope of this sketch to discuss the financial aspect of the
cjuestion. r>ut it occurs that the Water Works enjoys a large income (which has
hitherto been spent in developing), therefore the purchase could not actually be a
burden on the City^ although theorists would try so to prove. Not to mention
the value of Real Estate which the offer includes. Many of the City's influential
men favor the project. The question is to be decided by a vote of the tax-pay-
ers, on September .'50th. 18i)(). Mr. Hrackenridge in a recent interview, e.xpressed
himself decidedly as follows :

"Now, the stockholders, after sowing- for thirteen years, with the hope of
ultimately harvesting, think it a little lianl that their large expenditure of
patience and money should be met ))>■ public clamor, as though they had perpe-

Till-: SAX ANTONIO RI\];r. :.7

trated some i;rc'at wroiii;- upon Ihc coiniuunity, instead of liavini;- added a \aliial)le
and necessary property to the City. Yet they Ijelieve stron^rly in the justice
of mankind and feel confident that the stockholders of the Water Works will be
permitted to reap the benefits which they feel are due them. vShould it be con-
sidered necessary for the public good to deprive them of their property, and
rights under their franchise, they think they will be honestly and fairly dealt

" The Water Works were constructed in 1^77, at a time when the City was
unwilling or unable to do anything, and the citizens would have nothing to do
with the scheme, giving it neither countenance nor credit, believing that it would
be a very great advantage to the city, and of little benefit to the stockholders.
These were, I believe, the views entertained by very nearly all the citizens,
including myself. At present the Company is completing what the stockholders
hoped would be the last large addition in the plant, necessary to be made during
the continuance of its contract with the city. I can say truly, that, so far, they
have received less interest on their investment than any citizen in San Antonio
would be willing to accept, even upon the most undoubted and infallible invest-
ment. There has been paid them less than 2 per cent, per annum upon the amount
invested to the present time. For the first seven years the officers contented
themselves to work without salaries. I traveled over the country at my own
expense to make contracts for pipe and material."

These articles on the Head of the River and the Water Works are inserted in
this work in the belief that, whether the vote goes for or against the purchase, the
historical matter they contain vrill be of more than mere passing interest.

San Antonio as a Health Resort.

"If a mail wants to die there he must go somewhere else."

— Gi;o. WiLKiNS Kendall, 1813.

To those that are affected with throat and lung troubles, San Antonio and
its vicinity undoubtedly stand pre-eminent in interest at the head of the li.st of
the health resorts of this continent; its pure and dry air, and the facilities its
neighborhood affords for obtaining varied temperatures, in the high lands North,
or the low lands South to suit the subject or case, are advantages which speak
for themselves.

The editor of this Guide was anxious to obtain what he felt to be a disinter-
ested estimate of these advantages, and found it when least expecting it; he gives
an old opinion, but he feels it to be the better for the thirty years during which
it has been put to the proof. It stands as just to-day as when it was written,
and has everything to recommend it to health-seekers. It is to be regretted that
it does not touch upon one important item, the northers. Our northers have
been much noised about, and the rapid changes that these boisterous visitors
cau.se during our .short winter, have been much objected to. The writer's eight
years of experience has taught him that their bark is far worse than their bite;
that in the .severest .stress it is never quite so cold as it seems; the wind is cer-
tainly trying as long as it lasts, but out of the wind, and you are out of the
Norther. They are easily avoided if an invalid desires to do so, all one has to
do is to keep indoors, they are invariably of short duration, lasting three or four
days at most at a time: they come very suddenly, it is true, but they assudddenly
leave, and it should be remembered by visitors that they always come from a
northerly direction, necessarily therefore, from a much colder climate than our
own Sunny South. The longer one lives in Texas the better he likes the North-
ers; they are to a Texan an impersonation almost of everything that is l^racing
and invigorating, and they are oftener welcomed with a leap and a whistle than
met with complainings.

The extracts that follow further on, are from a letter written many years
ago l)y an invalid who had .sought San Antonio as a health resort, and who appar-
ently found relief. The letter was ])nblislied as far back as 1S.")S in T.ie New
Orleans Crescent. It furnishes, an unl)ia.sed and independent opinion by one
who had had much experience, of the restorative qualities of the climate ot San
Antonio, all the more unbiased and telling if it is considered that the climate
was at that time pa.s.sing through its i)r()l)ali()nary ])eriod, and that to-day. more
than thirty years after, vSan Anloiiio stands unchallenged as a resort, tnic(iualled
for restorative (pialities for Iuiil; and llnoat troiibk-s. 'iMic leUer is ,L;i\en almost
as it stands in the old file, only such i)aragr;)i)iis are eliminated as .sjK-ak di.spar-
agingly of certain malarial di.stricts of vSoutheast Texas, of the .stages, "which are



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Online LibraryWilliam CornerSan Antonio de Bexar; a guide and history → online text (page 9 of 22)