Watertown Gas Company
Wisconsin Gas & Electric Company
Derived from: The History of Jefferson County, Wisconsin by C. W. Butterfield, 1879
William H. Clark, cashier of the Bank of Watertown; came to Milwaukee in 1852, and to Watertown in 1854. He organized the bank that year and has been connected with it ever since; Mr. Clark organized the gas company here, in connection with A. L. Pritchard, and conducted the works for several years. He has been in the banking business continuously since August 4, 1854, over a quarter of a century. Mr. Clark is a native of Chemung Co., N.Y.
02 21 The Gas Company is laying the main pipe under the bridge in order to cross the river and form a connection with Main Street and West Avenue. So severe and steady has been the cold of the past few weeks, that is has been impossible to do anything towards completing the Gas Works. All the iron is now here, and a large number of skillful and experienced mechanics are waiting to improve the first opportunity that occurs to resume operations and complete the works as soon as it is practical to do so. WD
03 20 The Gas Holder is now being built at the Gas Works. Mr. J. Bromfield, the enterprising superintendent, informs us that the works will be in full operation at farthest, by the 1st of May, if not before that date. Nothing but the weather, which for months rendered it necessary to suspend all kinds of labor on them, has prevented their completion weeks ago. Everything about these works has a substantial appearance and bears the imprints of being all done by those who are masters of their business -- looking as if made for real service and to endure for a long time. WD
04 24 The Gas Works, if the weather continues as it has been for a week past, will be ready to go into operation the latter part of next week. The works are now nearly completed. They are said to be superior to any that have heretofore been erected in this state. WD
05 18 FIRST GAS SERVICE IN WATERTOWN
First gas service in 1856 when, on May 18 of that year, the Watertown City Gas Co. began service to a list of 100 customers. WD
1861 DISCONTINUE LIGHTING STREET LAMPS
01 31 Proceedings of the Common Council: Resolved, That the Gas Company be directed to discontinue lighting the street lamps in the Fourth Ward from and after this date, as the said Ward has no means to pay such bills. WD
02 01 A BONE OF CONTENTION
If there has been any one question more than another that has given rise to fierce discussion in the Common Council, it is that as to what disposition should be made to the bills in favor of the Gas Company for the gas burned in our street lamps.
Some of the aldermen take the ground that each ward should pay out of its own fund for the gas consumed in its limits, and that the same should not be made a charge upon the city general fund. We believe this is the way the matter stands now and that the 1st, 2d, 3d and 4th wards, being the only ones in which there are any lamps, now pay for the lighting of the streets.
We consider this unfair and unequal. We do not know why the 5th, 6th and 7th wards should be absolved from their part of this expense, though there are no lamps located within their limits, any more than they should be for any other outlay for the benefit of the city at large. Why could they not, with the same propriety, have been relieved from the payment of their just proportion of the cost of building the Main Street bridge? Or why not exonerated from their share of the expense of repairing the Plank Road bridge near the Rough and Ready Mill?
. . . It ought to be shared alike by all. We regard it as an improvement which the city should sustain, as a whole, and can not see any propriety or sense in making four wards maintain it for the benefit of the seven. We furthermore believe that a tax levied in accordance with that principle is illegal, and that the same if contested would not stand the test of law. There certainly is no equality in such taxation. WR
07 24 DIRECTORS ELECTED
Watertown Gas Co. At a recent meeting of the stockholders of this company the following named persons were chosen Directors: J. M. Underwood, Chicago; William M. Dennis, Daniel Jones, A. L. Pritchard and William H. Clark, all of Watertown. WD
12 11 GAS . . . OR NO GAS
The question before this community is whether we are going to have gas or go without. The Gas Company finds that at the present rate they will have to stop manufacturing, the increased price of coal having added materially to their expenses.
Last week the gas consumers held a meeting for the purpose of ascertaining what measures could be adopted to continue the supply. They are willing to pay as high as five dollars per 1,000 feet and if the amount taken could be sufficiently increased to make it safe to the company to go on, we presume there would be no difficulty in keeping the works in operation, but nobody can ask the company to run them merely for the fun of the thing – and lose money too.
As far as we have heard any expression on the subject, we think it is safe to assume that a large majority of our citizens are decidedly in favor of having our streets again lit up during the evening. Of course, there are some evenings when this would not be necessary, but most of the time the nights are dark, and then lighted streets are a great convenience to all who have occasion to go out. As the benefit is public and general, the compensations ought to be paid out of the general fund. Those who have been to the trouble and expense of putting in fixtures are unwilling to change them and resort once more to the old methods, and besides this, the use of lamps would have the effect of raising the rates of insurance, which would be a considerable item to a city like this.
It is to be hoped that some means may be devised by which the company will be able to continue their works. The consumers seem ready to do their part, and if their number can be sufficiently increased at the new price they have expressed themselves willing to pay, the chief trouble will be removed. WD
12 18 CONTINUING THE SUPPLY OF GAS
The special committee appointed at the last meeting of the Common Council “to confer with the Watertown Gas Company in relation to continuing the supply of gas” report that they have seen the President and Secretary and conferred with them on the subject and they believe if the Common Council will adopt the accompanying resolution that the company will continue their works and supply the city with gas. They therefore recommend its adoption. – T. Prentiss, for the Committee . . . WD
10 01 Common Council Proceedings: Resolved that the Watertown City Gas Company be requested to continue the laying of their gas pipe on West Avenue Street [West Main St] to the track of the Chicago and NorthWestern Railroad, and that lamps be located at such points as the Mayor may direct, the laying of said pipes to be at the expense of said Gas Company.
Ald. Dennis offered the following as an addition to said resolution: And that the sum of five hundred dollars be and the same is hereby appropriated to rebuild the same, provided the excess of the cost be paid by private subscription, upon which the ayes and noes were called, and being a tie vote, the Mayor, on the casting vote, voted No! Amendment was lost. WD
05 05 WORKS ABOUT TO BE SUSPENDED
The Gas Company gives notice of which will interest all consumers in this city. For want of sufficient encouragement and the increased cost of manufacture, the works are about to be suspended. This will be an inconvenience to those who now use it and have put up fixtures. We hope something may be done to avoid this result. WD
07 07 THE NEW GAS COMPANY
A meeting of the stockholders of the new Gas Company was held June 27th, at which C. Jacobi, A. Pfundheller, G. Werlich, E. Johnson, and A. Peterson were chosen directors. At a subsequent meeting of the Board of Directors, C. Jacobi was elected President, G. Werlich Secretary, A. Peterson Treasurer, and Joseph Miller Superintendent. WD
04 06 CITY GAS BILL
The Clerk reported on the gas bill of last month that he found 26 lamps burning; on motion the gas bill of $49.83 was allowed and order issued to be paid. Common Council Proceedings. WD
05 11 SUDDENLY STOPPED OPERATIONS
Last week the Gas Works suddenly stopped operations and left the city without light. This was owing partly to the fact that the works were out of order, which can easily be repaired, but more to the fact that the company receives an inadequate patronage, which can only be remedied by selling more gas, or asking more for what is used. The company has every disposition to carry on their works, but it is evident this cannot be done while a sufficient quantity of gas is not taken to pay expenses. It depends wholly on those who prefer this kind of light to decide whether these works shall be longer continued. They must be made self-supporting or go down, for there is nobody here willing to run them at a loss. We understand the company have maintained them as long as their means held out and are ready to resume operations as soon as there is a reasonable prospect they can be kept going without sinking money. It is to be hoped efforts will be made to soon have them again in working order and that they will be liberally sustained by those interested in their success. WD
10 26 GAS WORKS AGAIN STOPPED OPERATIONS
The Gas Works of this city have again stopped operations, and our streets are again in darkness during the night. If we are correctly informed, the difficulty lies in the fact that the works are not self-sustaining – the amount consumed and the price paid are not sufficient to pay the cost of manufacture. Whether measures can be taken to remedy this difference we do not know. It seems to us that in a city of this size, where works are already in existence and been in operation several years, there ought to be enterprise and liberality enough to keep running successfully. It cannot be expected that the company will keep up their works at a loss to themselves. Those who prefer this kind of light must be willing to pay a remunerative price for it. Where the trouble is we do not pretend to know, but we hope some efficient steps will soon be taken to again put the works in operation and keep them going. It would not be very credible to our city to have them sold, taken up and removed, but if they cannot receive sufficient encouragement to keep them going, they will be of no use here and will probably be abandoned – but we trust this unfavorable result will be avoided. WD
11 02 CITY CONSIDERS AID TO GAS COMPANY
Common Council: The President stated that this meeting was called for the purpose of considering what aid could be extended to the Gas Company by this city to enable the company to run the works . . .
Resolved, That for the purposes of aiding the Watertown Gas Company in re-establishing its works in the city, it is hereby agreed, upon the part of the city, to pay said Gas Company the sum of one hundred dollars per month for the ensuing six years for the gas used by the city, provided that the Gas Company shall erect posts upon the line of its pipes at such places and times as the Mayor and Council may direct; the expense of erecting the additional posts to be paid by the city, provided also that the Gas Company shall not be required to furnish more gas under this agreement than will amount to $1200 per annum, at the same rate as that paid by private consumers. Adopted. WD
10 26 EXTENSION OF GAS
The Watertown Gas company will soon commence laying gas pipes along several streets not heretofore supplied with this article of light. Along Second Street, north of Main, as far as Bursinger's Brewery, at which time arrangements will be made to supply Music Hall. On First Street, to the Watertown House, supplying the Engine house and Lockup. On Water Street, on the west side, the pipes will be laid as far up as Weber's store. We are glad to learn that the increasing consumption makes these extensions necessary. WR
03 20 ELECTRIC LIGHT PLANT ERECTED
At a meeting of the Watertown Gas Company last Monday it was unanimously voted that the company to erect an electric light plant in this city, the same to be done it once, or as soon as a franchise can be obtained from the city. Material has already been ordered and an electrician is expected here in a few days. The company is to be styled the Watertown Gas, Electric Light and Power Company. It will furnish small power for running light machinery for any one desiring it. WG
In 1889 Joseph Terbrueggen was one of a company of three who put in the electric lighting system in the city and the company later disposed of the plant.
Mr. Cordes became greatly interested in electric lighting, a subject which he studied with great enthusiasm. Coming to the belief that Watertown could support a plant, the partners secured a franchise from the city of Watertown on May 27, 1889, and at once proceeded to install.
Business men and the public generally know little about electric lighting systems and rather doubted its success in a town of this size. However, they did not allow themselves to become discouraged and went to work to secure contracts from business men and others. The city contracted for twenty street lights, and a number of business men agreed to take a few lights, the late Joseph Salick, the jeweler, being the first to commend the lights and signing a contract for a substantial number of lights. Most of the business men were indifferent but became convinced of its feasibility as soon as a few were put in use.
05 05 REMOVAL OF LIGHT AT COLLEGE AND WESTERN
The regular meeting of the common council last evening was attended by all the members, with Mayor Mulberger in the chair. A petition was presented by interested citizens praying for the removal of the electric arc light now at the intersection of College and Western avenues to the intersection of Twelfth Street and Western Avenue. Referred to the committee on street lighting. WR
07 27 MAIN STREET GAS MAIN, recalking joints repairing of
Complying with provision made by the common council, the Watertown Gas Company is engaged in recalking joints and making other necessary repairs to the gas main which lies in Main Street. This main was laid forty years ago and is found to be in very good condition, experience showing that cast iron does not wear out in the ground. In refilling the trench the company workmen are performing excellent service and setting an example worthy of emulation by persons similarly employed. The earth is so perfectly tamped that an almost even surface is left over the trench. This very desirable condition would seem to refute the contention often made here that the same amount of earth taken from a trench cannot be replaced without leaving a clumsy and unsightly ridge. The plan pursued by the Gas Company entails the service of three tampers to one filler.
The plumbers and drain-layers are also performing good work along Main Street in refilling the trenches. All this work is closely watched by the board of public works and by Albert Krueger as inspector. WR
01 27 LIGHTING UP MOONLIGHT NIGHTS
It might be well for our city officials before entering into another contract for lighting the city to consider the question of dispensing with lighting up moonlight nights. That always seemed to us a ridiculous waste of money. In a great many places throughout the country contracts are being made in that way, and this would go a great way toward paying for the extra expense of all night lighting. WR
02 22 The majority of the members of this council, who forced through a measure inviting proposals for lighting the city by electricity for a term of five years, must have had a clear conception of the value of capital. If the term had been ten years there might have been some competition. As it was, only one bid was received, and we understand that was partly by solicitation. Outside capital could not reasonably be expected to come here and invest something like $20,000 in a plant and at the end of a five- year term possibly have an electric light plant on hand of but very little value. The Watertown Electric Light Company put in a bid for lighting the streets up to mid-night for the sum of $60 per lamp per year, which is $5 per lamp less than last year. For an all night service $90 per lamp is wanted. The proposals call for 2,000 candlepower, while the company's bid was for 1,200 candlepower, the same as is now being furnished. WR
04 24 The Watertown Gas Company is laying new gas mains in several portions of the city. On North Washington Street seven hundred feet of three-inch pipe is being laid and in College Avenue from Milwaukee Street to Main Street is being supplied with two-inch pipe. An arm of the College Avenue main will be extended west one block in Market Street.
04 22 Common Council: Resolved, That the Watertown Electric Company keep burning the electric arc lamp now placed in front of the Turner hall the same nights and length of time that the other city electric arc lamps burn throughout the year, and that said company be paid for so doing twelve dollars ($12.00) per year in addition to the money paid for street lights annually. Resolved, That Welsbach gas lamps be placed in the streets of the city of Watertown, Wisconsin, at the following designated points, to wit: [here follows 55 different intersections at which the lights will be placed].
08 10 P. L. Utley and Charles Mackay of the Gas and Electric Company were in Milwaukee Monday. The object of their visit was to ascertain the cost necessary for the enlargement of the gas plant and the time it would probably require. The demand on the company for gas has increased to such an extent that the plant must be increased to meet the demand which now nearly exceeds its capacity. Should the plant be increased in size, the work will be begun at an early day.
08 23 The Gas and Electric company has sold over 200 gas cooking stoves thus far this season, and Mr. Hine, the solicitor, is yet at work trying to induce people to be happy. WR
09 14 A special meeting of the stockholders of the Gas and Electric Co. was held Tuesday evening to arrange for the enlargement of the gas plant, the demand for gas for cooking purposes as well as light having increased to such an extent as to make it absolutely necessary in order to meet the demand.
03 20 Attorney John G. Conway is in receipt of the following notice from Assemblyman Fred Smith, which will be of interest to the readers of The Leader. It is understood that the Gas and Electric Company has effected a settlement with at least a large majority of property owners and much of the opposition that was evidenced two years ago has vanished. What action will be taken by the city remains to be seen. WL
12 18 NEARLY KILLED BY ELECTRIC WIRE
Last Tuesday afternoon C. H. Pfeiffer of Milton, who has been but a short time employed here by the Watertown Gas and Electric Co., came near being killed while at work on an electric light pole in Western Avenue. He was working on a lead wire from the power house at the dam and he placed his arm on another wire, making a complete circuit, voltage of 2300 passing through his body. He was rendered unconscious and was held suspended from the wires. A fellow workman went to his rescue and jerked him from the wires. His hand and arm were terribly burned. At this writing it is thought he will recover from his injuries. WG
01 29 P. Riley scalded by the blowing out of a steam pipe on the boiler WG
03 05 Superintendent Charles MacKay dismissed; pushed for alderman WG
05 21 NEW DAM AND POWER HOUSE
The Watertown Gas and Electric Co. is building a new concrete dam a little to the north of the old dam, 11 1/2 feet high, and a power house at the Rough and Ready Dam site, men being employed day and night on the job. The power house will be of brick and concrete 38 x 94 feet and will be 85 feet high from the river bottom. It will contain two large water wheels, and a generator for local use and a transformer and a generator connected with the power from Kilbourn dam for use on the interurban street railway line. WG
08 06 John Berrigan, solicitor, resigned WG
06 10 UNLIMITED HOT WATER
04 18 THE CHARGE OF THE "LIGHT" BRIGADE
One Watertown home after another is succumbing to the friendly attack of our wiring contractors. They bring light and cheer wherever they go. They are competent men — do their work neatly and quickly without disturbing domestic routine. Let them wire your home this spring. If it is located on our distributing lines and you are now using some other illuminant, we offer to wire the house complete and furnish fixtures, then allow you a whole year to pay the bill in, at so much per month. Houses in course of construction not included under this offer. For full information of this special offer, telephone Watertown Gas & Electric. WG
05 02 GAS AND ELECTRIC DEMONSTRATION
Mrs. Minnie Riebe will conduct a gas and electric heating and cooking demonstration at the office of the Watertown Gas and Electric Co. all next week. Cooking by gas, electricity and the paper bag method will be fully explained, and there will be a fine display of electric and gas appliances. Drop in and get a cup of coffee, cake, toast or a biscuit, all made at the demonstration, to which the public is cordially invited. WG
11 21 GAS OFFICE CLOSES WEDNESDAY NIGHTS
The local gas and electric office which has heretofore been kept open on Wednesday evenings will close on that night hereafter, beginning December 1, except when the tenth of the month falls on Wednesday. In that event the office will be open during that evening. Since the stores have closed on Wednesday evenings there has been little or no call for accommodation at the gas office and hereafter the men will be given an opportunity to have the evening hours for themselves. The office will be open on Saturday evening as usual. WG
03 05 ARNOLD C. REUTLER, new manager
C. A. Comstock has resigned as manager of the Watertown Gas and Electric Co., a position which he has very creditably filled for the past six years, and under whose management the business of the company has been greatly increased. He always took an active interest in city affairs and served a term as president of the Twilight Club. Mr. Comstock has several places in view and may decide to locate in one of the larger cities of the state.
His successor in Watertown is Arnold C. Reutler, who has been in the local office of the company since 1906, starting at the lower round of the ladder as meter reader, then billing clerk, ledger clerk, complaint clerk, cashier, assistant bookkeeper, bookkeeper and chief clerk, and now to the highest position of the company in this city, that of manager. His promotion is certainly deserved. He has always been attentive to the duties assigned to him, courteous and efficient, and besides has the very best of habits, which go a long way in aiding a man’s advancement in life.
The Gazette heartily congratulates him and bespeaks for him success in his new position. Arthur Tetzlaff, another most worthy employee of the company here, succeeds Mr. Reutler. Frank Jennings, who has been the obliging and competent superintendent of the gas works, who handed in his resignation over a month ago to engage in business for himself in Watertown, is still in the service of the company, a suitable successor not having yet been found. WG
03 12 FRANK JENNINGS
Frank M. Jennings, who recently resigned as superintendent of the Watertown Gas Works, has purchased the Schuenke Grocery in the 7th ward [1022 S Third, grocer] and will take charge of it April 1st. Mr. Jennings made a most excellent superintendent of the gas works, and with the same attention and faithfulness to duty in his new line of business as he gave the old, he will certainly make a success of it. His many friends wish him prosperity. WG
02 11 NEW ARC LIGHT
The new arc lights being installed by the Watertown Gas & Electric Co. under their new contract with the city are a great improvement on the old lights and our people are delighted with them. It is hoped they will continue to throw as good a light in the future for all time as they have since they have been installed. WG
02 11 HIPPIER & BADER
H. Hippier and K. Bader, former employees of the Watertown Gas & Electric Co., have gone into the electric contracting business under the firm name of Hippier & Bader. They will sell electric fixtures and do all kinds of electric wiring, etc. We wish the new firm the patronage it deserves, as both of its members are competent and trustworthy men. WG
10 28 PLANT IMPROVEMENTS
The Watertown Gas and Electric Co. has made several improvements in their plant, including the remodeling of their outside equipment and replacing old and worn-out poles and wires. The installation by this company of new and modern street lamps has greatly improved the appearance of the streets. WG
1920c, 1002 S Second, employees around large gas tank WHS_005_205
Profile of Frank J. Boehm of the Wisconsin Gas & Electric Co, an associated company of The Milwaukee Electric Railway and Light Co, owner of Watertown gas works.
William T Jones, retired as plant superintendent of Watertown Gas plant. Employed for over 30 years.
07 03 E. T. HORNICKLE
When E. T. Hornickle, 211 College Avenue, closed his desk in the Gas and Electric building at Main and North Third Streets today he not only called it a day, he called it quits. For today marked the end of his working days as Watertown district manager of the Wisconsin Electric Power Co. and the Wisconsin Natural Gas Co. For Mr. Hornickle it marks the end of a little over 38 years with the companies. He chalked up 38 years on June 15. It was announced some time ago that his retirement would become effective July 1.
Ad for, 1957 City Dir, Wisconsin Natural Gas Co
Ad for, 1957 City Dir, Wisconsin Electric Power Co
05 18 The huge gas storage tank on the site of the old Watertown City Gas Co. is coming down. No longer used, since the advent of piped-in natural gas, the Wisconsin Natural Gas Co. which now serves this area, ordered the tank removed and Loeb Salvage, Inc., Watertown is in charge. Watertown had its first gas service in 1856 when, on May 18 of that year, the Watertown City Gas Co. began service to a list of 100 customers. By 1903 there were 900 customers. The first gas was used for illumination only and the first gas stoves were sold and installed here in the 1880s.
11 21 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF ELECTRICITY IN WATERTOWN
The 100th anniversary of electricity in Watertown will be celebrated as part of Watertown’s Old Fashioned Christmas festivities on Sunday, Dec. 3. Electricity first came to the city on Dec. 2, 1889 when the electric lights lit up the downtown area for the first time. Prior to that, illumination was provided by gas lamps. To commemorate the occasion, the city’s street lights will not be lit downtown on Dec. 3 until after the annual lighting ceremony of the municipal tree on the Rock River Walkway at 5 p.m. The lighted window displays in downtown stores will provide the only illumination until after the ceremony. In honor of the anniversary, the Wisconsin Electric Power Co. will give away three wall-mounted outdoor lights similar in design to the lights installed on poles along the walkway. Each of the 35-watt sodium high pressure efficiency lights has a value of about $240.
08 23 RAY’S SHOES ACQUIRES WISCONSIN ELECTRIC BLDG
Ray’s Shoes is undertaking a major renovation and expansion of its flagship retail store in downtown Watertown. Dan Beltz, president of the firm, said the Wisconsin Electric Power Company building at Third and Main streets has been acquired and is in the process of being renovated for expansion of the shoe store which is located immediately to the west. Initial stages of the project have started. The common wall between the two buildings has been removed. When the new section is opened, Beltz said the entire retail store will be redecorated under the direction of his wife, Kristin Laramie Beltz.
09 17 CITY PURCHASES UTILITY PROPERTY
Site of new Public Works Facility
After a couple years of negotiations, the city has purchased the We Energies property south of the street department building on South Second Street, according to Mayor Ron Krueger. The city closed on the purchase of the 1.5-acre parcel Tuesday at 2 p.m., Krueger said. He added the city bought the land for $48,000. The city is planning on using the property for street department employee parking and to house a salt shed. City officials have been trying to obtain the land ever since it was decided that the current street department site would be used for the new public works facility, which was about two years ago.
Gas and Electric Co building, 216 E Main. Earlier was site of Gahlmann’s Deutsches Dorf.
Terbrueggen, Joseph 1912, Obit
For about 30 years past he was a member of the brick manufacturing firm of L. H. Cordes & Co. In 1889 he was one of a company of three who put in the electric lighting system in our city and the company later disposed of the plant.
J. H. Sleeper, 1939-1888, was president of Watertown Gas Co.
John Koehler associated with company
History of Watertown, Wisconsin