Dana Reed Bailey.

History of Minnehaha county, South Dakota. Containing an account of its settlements, growth, development and resources ... Synopsis of public records, biographical sketches .. online

. (page 42 of 99)
Online LibraryDana Reed BaileyHistory of Minnehaha county, South Dakota. Containing an account of its settlements, growth, development and resources ... Synopsis of public records, biographical sketches .. → online text (page 42 of 99)
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"that the contract with the Water Company be rescinded, and that
the city attorney be instructed to commence suit for annulling the
same," and at the same time submitted a proposition from Col.
Drake. Accompanying- this report was an opinion by City Attorney
Brockway in reference to the rescinding- of the contract with the
company and the leasing- of Drake's spring-. As to the first proposi-
tion he practically said the council could rescind or not as they
chose, and as to Drake's spring- he referred them to Drake's proposi-
tion. In the report of the committee appeared a statement in refer-
ence to the quantity of water that Drake's spring- would supply, and
it was amusing- to the writer at the time to compare the g-reat ca-
pacity of the spring- as reported by the committee, with the report
of one of the finest water experts the country afforded, \jho liappcucd
to be present when the test was made by the committee and its ex-
pert. One of them found an adequate supply for the city, the other
thought that the amount of water demanded by the city would ex-
haust the supply in a few hours. Mr. Drake's proposition was to
lease his spring- to the city for fifteen years; the city to pay $3()0


monthly for the first five years, $4-00 monthly for the next five years,
and $600 monthly for the last five years; he reservino- the rig-ht to
take water from the spring- for sale outside of the city. This propo-
sition was based upon the assumption that the city would take
prompt action. Failing- to secure a contract of this kind, Mr. Drake
offered, if the city would g-ive him a franchise similar to the one
g-iven the Water company, he would put in a first-class system of
water works and push it to completion as fast as men, money and
g-ood business judg-ment could accomplish it.

The city council had at last arrived at the brink of the Rubicon,
and notwithstanding- Drake's spring- was near the opposite shore,
the most conservative members hesitated to cross, and asked for
further time before they committed themselves to a project that was
sure to result in expensive litig-ation to the city, and leaving* them
nothing- by which they could justify their action but the unsolved
problem that Drake's spring- could be obtained, and was of sufficient
capacity to supply the city with water for all purposes. The council
adjourned without taking- any action. The next day a petition was
circulated, and secured a larg-e number of sig-natures, calling- a mass
meeting- of the citizens to advise the city council what to do upon the
water question. This meeting- took place Thursday evening-, July
17. It was larg-ely attended, and was one of the most interesting-
meeting's ever held in the city. It would surprise some of the g-ood
citizens of Sioux Falls if they should review the speeches they made
on that occasion. It was a wild meeting- until near the close, w^hen a
mild resolution of confidence in the city council was passed, assert-
ing- that the meeting- believed that the council would take all neces-
sary steps to furnish the city with pure water. This meeting- was
followed by a special meeting- of the city council on July 18, to take
action on the report of the special water committee. Alderman
Lewis at once moved "that a demand be made upon the Water com-
pany that they demonstrate within one week that they can furnish
a supply of pure water for all purposes." This opened the debate,
which lasted two hours and concluded upon Alderman Brooking-s
moving- to lay the motion on the table; the vote resulted in a tie, and
Mayor Peck voted in the affirmative. The city attorney was then
instructed to draw a resolution "to serve as a warning- and demand
upon the Water company to furnish g-ood water." Col. Drake then
said, if it took till November for the council to find out whether the
Water company violated the contract, then the city, if it wanted his
spring-s, would have to pay a fair round price for them. Wm. Van
Eps then made quite a speech, advising- the council to g-o slow, and
be careful about involving- the city in unnecessary litig-ation. The
council adjourned until the next day. At the adjourned meeting-
July 19, a preamble and resolution drawn by the city attorney was
introduced. The preamble recited the g-rievances the city had suf-
fered, and the resolution demanded from the company a full compli-
ance with their contract on or before October 15, and notified the
company that the council would not consent to an emerg-encv pipe
from the eng-ine house to the river. After a two hours discussion
the preamble was stricken out, and then the reference to the emer-


g-ency pipe was stricken out, and then what was left was adopted.
From this time on until September, the Water company was pushing-
its work with g-reat vig-or, while a few people were trying- in everv
way to discredit the character of the water it was obtaining-. Sam-
])les of water from the wells of the company and from Drake's
spring had been sent to a chemist of world-wide fame for analy-
sis, and on the first day of September, 1890, his report was laid
before the city council. From this report itajopeared that the water
works' water was slig-htly the purest, and three per cent softer than
the water in Drake's spring-. This settled the water question, which
had so long- ag-itated the people of Sioux Falls. On November 2(),
1S*)(), the water pipes throug-hout the city were slushed, and the next
day (Thanksg-iving- day; the g-reat pump forced the water to the con-
sumers for the first time from the new station.

At the g-eneral election in November, 1898, the question of bond-
ing- the city for the purpose of purchasing- or constructing- a system
of water works was submitted to a vote of the electors of the city of
Sioux Falls. The vote was 821 /or 3.nd 405 a n-a/}/st the proposition.
During- the session of the leg-islature in 1899 a law was enacted
authorizing- the city to bond for the purpose above mentioned, pro-
vided a majority of all the electors of the city should at a special
election so vote, the number of electors to be determined by the total
vote cast for mayor at the preceding- city election, according to which
it required 954 affirmative votes to bond. The election was called
for the 4th day of April. For ten days prior to the election an active
campaign was waged, but the indebtedness of the city was so large
that a great majority of the people were opposed to increasing it for
any purpose, and the measure was defeated by a vote of 587 /or, and
684 ag-ahist.

The plant at the present time has greater capacity and is more
complete than any system of water works in any city in the United
States of the size of Sioux Falls. The water is obtained from
twenty-eight six-inch wells of the depth of thirty-five to forty-five
feet. There are three pumps in use, with a capacity of one, three
and five-million gallons, respectively. The fire pressure is 125
pounds to the square inch, and can be increased to upward of 150
pounds. There are thirty-five miles of mains, 115 hydrants and five
])ublic drinking fountains. The private consumers number about

The water has been thoroughly analyzed by chemists, and found
suitable for domestic use, and has received the indorsement of the
local physicians as the best water attainable in Sioux Falls.

The first superintendent was J. H. Purdy, who was succeeded
by L. C. Winslow, Doc. Hoffman, C. H. Martien, R. W. Barnes, C.
N. Berry and H. G. Smith, in the order named.

Gas Works.— In August, 1882, J. H. Miller, Jr., came to Sioux
Falls and asked the village trustees to grant him the right of way
through the streets and alleys for laying gas pipes. He represented
that if this privilege should be granted to him he would put in a gas
plant with capacity sufficient for a city of fifteen thousand inhabit-
ants. The trustees assured him his request would be granted, and


the followino- September Mr. Miller purchased the present location
of the plant and commenced its construction. On the 31st day of
March follo\vin«-, the villag-e trustees passed ordinance No. 43 (the
last one passed by the village of Sioux Palls), g-iving- John H. Miller,
Jr., his associates, heirs and assig-ns the privilege, for the term of
ninety-nine years, of using the streets, alleys and public grounds of
the village for the purpose of laying pipes for the conveyance of gas,
for the use of the village and its inhabitants. By the provisions of
this ordinance the plant was to be completed in six months, and to
have the capacity of meeting all demands for gas, both public and
private. The price of gas was fixed at three dollars per one thous-
and feet, with a discount of ten per cent upon payment on presenta-
tion of bills; the price to be increased or diminished as the cost of
bituminous coal should be greater or less than eight dollars per ton,
which was the cost of the coal at that time in Sioux Falls. On the
8th day of May, 1886, the City of Sioux Falls, by ordinance of that
date g-ranted to the Sioux Falls Gas Company the exclusive rig-ht,
privileg-e and franchise for twenty years to manufacture and furnish
gas within the limits of the city of Sioux Falls, reserving the right
to forfeit and declare void the franchise conferred by the village and
confirmed by the City of Sioux Falls, in the event of the failure of the
company to perform each and ev^er}^ condition assumed by them. On
the 19th day of June, 1885, the City of Sioux Falls by ordinance ap-
proved of village ordinance No. 43, and authorized the Sioux Falls
Gas Company, the successors of John H. Miller, Jr., to mortgage
the gas works, and confirmed to said company the franchise as
granted to Miller. May 11, 1886, J. Leslie Thompson, receiver of
the First National Bank of Sioux Falls, sold the interest the bank
had in the Gas Compan3^ In September following the company
issued its bonds in the sum of S25, 000, drawing six per cent interest,
which were negotiated by F. W. Little.

As in all other cities the subject of Gas caused considerable
discussion in Sioux Falls. The granting of the exclusive franchise
by the city council was denounced by many of the citizens, and the
newspapers were filled with interviews both for and against it, and
when the council entered into a contract with the company in July,
1886, to furnish fifty street lamps for five years at the annual cost of
S2,200, the air was full of electricity, as the Electric Light Company
had offered to furnish eleven electric arc lights for S2,244 per year.
The final outcome was in the nature of a compromise and a contract
for street lighting with both companies. In 1887, the Gas company
extended its mains and otherwise enlarged its works at a cost of
about S18,000. The National Gas and Fuel company of Chicago were
contracted with to furnish the plant with appliances to manufacture
gas, and the company had the whole work completed on the 26th day
of October. About seven o'clock in the evening of that dav the people
of Sioux Falls were startled by a loud report followed by the break-
ing of glass and a general shaking up of things in an unaccountable
manner. It did not take long to locate the cause of the trouble —
the gas had exploded at the gas house, completely demolishing the
buildings. Large plate glass windows were broken in business


huildintJfs on Phillips avenue, and w indows in residences a (luarter of
a mile away met with the same fate, hut amon<i- the many stran^v
thino-s resulting- from this explosion none was more so than the
breaking- of every other window on the south side of the Commercial
hotel, O. Barrett, who was passing- over the Tenth street bridge
near the west end, had some bones broken, and two young- men who
were driving- near the works, were blown out of the carriagfe nearh'
fifty feet, and the horse and carria^ge thrown over the embankment.
The report of the explosion was heard at Baltic, a distance of aboiit
fourteen miles. Although the damag-es were larg-e, the company with
considerable enterprise continued to suppU^ g-as after a dela\' of
about two days, and the works were at once rebuilt. At half past
iive o'clock in the afternoon, January 4, 188S, there was another ex-
plosion at the g-as works. This time the damag-e was not so serious
as in October, but the force of the explosion was sufticient to unroof
the building- and throw down the walls, and other l)uilding-s in the
\icinity were perceptibly shaken. This explosion was caused 1)\'
the escape of g-as from the purifier. The manufacture of water gas
had been discontinued after the October explosion, so that it could
not be attributed to this g-as, ag-ainst which a strong- prejudice had
grown up in Sioux Palls. In May, 1888, a sale of the works was
made to outside parties, and the companv reorg-anized under the
name of Sioux Falls Gas Lig-ht Company; the former owners still
retaining- a larg-e interest. Since that time to the present writing-
(xeo. H. Brace has been president of the company, and the g-as fur-
nished has been satisfactory to its patrons, althougfh they occasion-
ally exercise their inalienable rig-hts to accuse the company of charg -
ing- too much for the g-as. But the history of the g'as works in Sioux
Palls would not be complete without recording- the third explosion
which occurred at 11:45 o'clock in the forenoon, January 28, 1807.
The explosion took place in the purifying- building-, and unlike its
predecessors the report of the explosion was heard only for a short
distance, and the damag-e was confined to the apparatus and building-
were the gas was manufactured. This building- was constructed of
brick with a slate roof heavily trussed, but it was completely demol-
ished. The loss of the company amounted to several thousand dol-
lars, but as on former occasions, the works were immediately rebuilt.

Electric Lights. — An electric light ])lant was started in the
city of Sioux Palls by several g-entlemen of that place, prominent
among- them were Charles E. McKinney, D. L. McKinney and John
McClellan. The capital stock of the association was S7o,00(). The
arc lig-ht was first started in the summer of 1884, and the Edison in-
candescent light was added in 1887 after the plant had been pur-
chased by the Cascade Milling Co. This company erected a stone
building- 50 bv 60 feet south of the Cascade mill to be used exclu-
sively for the g-eneration of electricity. Starting- with onl> about 400
lig-hts it now has over 5,000, and is one of the most perfect electric
light manufactories in the Northwest, not only lighting- the streets
in the city, but also furnishing power to manufacturing- establish-

Telegraph. — The Northwestern Teleg-raph Company, a Wis-


consin org-anization, built the first telegraph line to SiouxPalls during-
the fall of 1876, and in November of that year opened its office in the
land office building- located on the southwest corner of Phillips avenue
and Tenth street. E. W. Coug-hran was the first telegraph operator,
and remained in charg-e of the office nearly five years. E. J. Mannix
succeeded him and remained in charg-e until 1890. During- the first
few months under Mr. Mannix's charg-e the business of the office
was carried on at the Milwaukee and Omaha depots and in the Ger-
man bank building opposite the first location of the office, but for the
last fifteen vears, although the location of the office has been changed
frequently, it has never been more than a half a block from the Cat-
aract corner. There was only one operator in the office until 1883,
except for a few months while the Queen Bee mill was running. At
the time Mr. Mannix left the employ of the company he had five
assistants including the messenger boys. The city of Sioux Palls
now has ten wires, and the local office has been under the efficient
management of J. M. O'Neill since September, 1890.

Telephone. — In March, 1882, the Northwestern Telephone
Exchange Company was org-anized with a capital of ten thousand
dollars, with a view of establishing a telephone system in Sioux Palls.
The instruments arrived the September following, and soon after a
telephone system in the city was an accomplished fact. In July, 1883,
this company transferred its property to the Erie Telegraph and
Telephone Co., a New York corporation. There was quite a war be-
tween this company and the city authorities during that year, an
account of which will be found in the chapter devoted to the incor-
poration of the city of Sioux Palls.' It was only a short time before
the property was transferred to the Northwestern Telephone Ex-
change Co., and under its managment the system in Sioux Palls has
been greatly improved. During the spring of 1895 this company
extended its line to Dell Rapids, and on the 21st day of June of that
year the first message was transmitted from Dell Rapids to Sioux
Palls by George D. Sherman, then manag-er of the company at this
point. In 18%, lines were extended by the same compan}^ from
Sioux Palls to Valley Springs, Hartford, Humboldt, Montrose, Salem,
Canton, Worthing, Lennox and Parker. The system was completed
to Brandon and Valley Springs during the first week in October,
1896, and to the other towns above named, on the 12th day of the
same month. On the 3d day of March, 1897, the long distance
telephone service of this company was completed, and Sioux Palls
for the first time was placed in telephone connection with St. Paul,
Minneapolis, Winona, La Crosse, Pargo and Grand Porks. The
event was made memorable by an entertainment given by the company
to the people of Sioux Palls, at which time they enjoyed the novelty
of listening to music furnished by orchestras in Minneapolis,
Winona and Pargo. In the fall of 1897, this company, having pur-
chased the Iowa Telephone Company's line connecting Elk Point and
Vermillion with Sioux City, extended its line from Canton to Sioux
City, and from Vermillion to Yankton, and in September, 1898, ex-
tended the line from Yankton to Parker.

During the summer of 1898, it remodeled its system, making


material improvements, putting- in tall poles in the city of Sioux
Falls, with one mile of 100-wire aerial cable, and during- the fall the
line of this company was extended, taking- in Eg-an, Plandreau, Cole-
man and Madison. It has at this writing- fJulv, 1809,) about four
hundred subscribers in the cit\' of Sioux Falls, and is engaged in
making- extensive improvements. C. W. Rees is managvr.

Cigar Manufacturing. — D. J. Fischer commenced the manufac-
ture of cig-ars in Sioux Falls in June, 1879, and continued in the
lousiness about one year. In September of that year F. F. Ang-el &
Son started a cig-ar factory on Phillips avenue, and in Aug^ust, 188(1,
Henry Pontz came to Sioux Falls and eng-ag-ed in the same business.
Since that time largfe quantities of cig"ars, for the size of the place,
have been manufactured in Sioux Falls, amounting- in 1885, to seven
hundred thousand, and in 1892, to one million five hundred thousand
cig-ars. The larg-est business in this line was done by Wuest
Brothers — Victor J. and Theodore C, — This firm commenced the
manufacture of cig-ars in Aug-ust, 1883. in a small way, but as it pros-
pered the business was enlarg-ed, and for several 3'ears it employed
a large force in its factory. May 1, 1896, the plant was removed to
Chicag-o. At the present writing- there are quite a number of per-
sons in Sioux Falls eng-ag-ed in manufacturing- cig-ars, where trade in
this line is undoubtedly larg-er than in any other city in the state.
The Greenleaf Cig-ar Co. heads the list of cig-ar manufacturers in
the city at the present time.

Stone Industry. — The only stone in Minnehaha county of any
commercial value is the Sioux quartzite. State Geolog-ist J. E. Todd
in his preliminary report in 1894, says of it in substance, that it
consists almost entirely of an intensely hard and compact quartzite,
and occurs in strata nearly horizontal, and is cut into blocks by ver-
tical joints from six inches to several feet apart, crossing- one an-
other nearly at rig-ht ang-les; that the occurrence of it in cliifs from
fifty to sixty feet in heigfht, may be seen at Palisade and Dell Rapids,
and in broad and level areas at Sioux Falls; that it varies g-reatly in
color, and in hardness from a rock harder than steel to beds easily
excavated with a spade or pick. In the opinion of Mr. Todd, this
stone in this county may reach a depth of 1,500 feet. So much for a
description of the stone of which there is an inexhaustible supply in
the city and its immediate vicinity.

From the first settlement of Sioux Falls until the present time,
it has been used more or less for building- purposes. The Dubucpie
House, already noticed, was constructed of this stone in the roug-h,
in a roug-h way, but that structure tumbled down long- ago. The
Queen Bee mill is constructed of this stone, but it was erected by
workmen who were masters of their trade, and it stands to-day with-
out any appreciable sig-ns of decay. But it was not until about fifteen
years ag-o that the valuable properties of this stone beg-an to be ap-
preciated, especially its commercial value. J. H. Drake opened the
Monarch quarry in the city on the east side of the river, and another
quarry was opened about two miles southeast of the city, followed ])y
the opening- of quarries at Dell Rapids and East Sioux Falls. It was
not known until about this time that it could be easily manufactured


into paving- blocks, and the methods now in use in preparing- it for
Imilding- purposes were in a crude state. But paving- blocks were
manufactured and shipped to Omaha and other cities, and were found
to be all that could be desired for the paving- of streets upon which
there is a larg-e amount of traffic. In 1888, when the question of pav-
ing- Phillips avenue in Sioux Palls came before the city council, the
material to be used was thoroug-hly discussed, and althoug-h its first
cost would undoubtedly be g-reater than other materials in common
use for paving-, still, the well known durability of this stone, and the
fact that it would be a lasting- advertisement of its admirable quali-
ties for such purposes, broug-ht the members of the council to a
unanimous vote for its adoption.

For several years quite an eifort was made to attract the atten-
tion of contractors and builders, and others eng-ag-ed in public im-
provements, to the properties of this stone and it resulted in quite
extensive shipments from this city, Dell Rapids, and East Sioux
Falls. Some fine public building-s were erected in Chicag-o and other
cities of this material. The manufacture of paving- blocks was also
quite extensively eng-ag-ed in at the points enumerated above, but the
hard times lessened the demand, and the quarries, so active for
awhile, have for the last few years been comparatively idle. It is a
dinner-pail-brigade industry, and now that prosperity has returned,
it requires only an org-anized well directed effort to bring- this inex-
haustible source of wealth into the channels of commerce.

Wholesale Trade. — In 1883, the firm of Houser & Woodland
established a tobacco house in Sioux Falls, and for a few years en-
gaged in both the wholesale and retail of cig-ars and tobacco. In June,
1886, a wholesale g-rocery house was established by AVard & Frick,
who continued the business until June, 1888, when it was sold to
Jewett Brothers & Jewett. From that time the wholesale trade has
been constantly g-rowing- in importance. New lines have been added
from year to year, until Sioux Falls has become a recog-nized whole-
sale center in the commercial world. One feature, and the most im-
portant one of all, is the larg-e percentag-e of trade in g-oods manufac-
tured at home, which g-ives employment to a larg-e number of
laborers. Some of these manufacturing- industries have alreadvbeen
noticed, but a long- list mig-ht be added. The manufacture of flour,
carriag-es, brooms, candy, cornices, awningfs, blank books and ready-
prints, help to materially swell the wholesale trade of Sioux Falls.
All the leading- manufacturers of farm implements make Sioux Falls
a distributing- point for their g-oods, and some of them have erected
extensive building-s to accommodate their business. Residents of
the city eng-ag-ed in this line of trade have also been compelled to

Online LibraryDana Reed BaileyHistory of Minnehaha county, South Dakota. Containing an account of its settlements, growth, development and resources ... Synopsis of public records, biographical sketches .. → online text (page 42 of 99)