Winfield Water and Sewage


Did you ever wonder what Winfield did for utilities before today.

The very first settlers located near running water. They burnt wood, or cow chips, and you can use your imagination as to their bathrooms.

The town was platted and lots were sold. In the business district, 5 city wells were dug in Main street by March 18, 1871. They were from 20 to 24 feet deep. A merchant could draw water and carry it by the bucket full to his store to use. In case of fire, this was the source of water. We can only wonder if each store had its own outhouse.

Robert Hudson's grandfather, also named Robert Hudson, owned a home on the present site of the Salvation Army citadel and operated the Lindle hotel, one of the first hotels of Winfield. He brought the first bath tub to Winfield, a metal lined box, which at that time was quite a curiosity.

May 29, 1879 - The city authorities are sinking a public well in front of Hudson Bros. jewelry store.

MAY 6, 1880. - Robert Hudson's new bath house is about finished. It is complete throughout, furnished with bath tubs and bathing apparatus, and will be one of the most convenient houses in the southwest. Mr. Chas. Stueven has rented it and will open up in about a week.

June 10, 1880 - Courier - At the meeting of the city council Monday evening, a committee of leading citizens was appointed to visit Emporia, inspect the water works there, and determine whether the system would answer for Winfield. The authorities will defer any further action in the matter until the report of the committee.

July 15, 1880 - Courier - The water works question is beginning to agitate our people. The city officers are surveying, viewing, and trying to decide on the best plans to pursue. $100 has been appropriated by the council to be used in testing the water supply. The proposition offered by Mr. Perkins contemplating a reservoir on the central mound east of town, the water to be pumped into it from a well on Dutch creek, seems to be the most available one.

July 19, 1880 - Courier - The experiment well at the mound east of town is progressing, and at the depth of fifty to sixty feet was working in soap stone and fifteen feet of water.

August 12, 1880 - Courier - The well borers at the mound are at work on their second hundred feet of depth.

AUGUST 19, 1880. - Hudson's bath house will be in trim and open anew. On Thursdays he will give free baths to gentlemen and on Fridays, free baths to ladies, when female attendants will be in charge. Call and try it.


Sept. 2, 1880 - Courier - The well at the mound is a foot in diameter, and is said to be 175 feet deep with 75 feet of water. No one can tell whether there is much of a supply of water there or not, but the presumption is in the negative.

Sept. 9, 1880 - Courier - That well at the mound is a "big bore," that is to say, it is 200 feet deep and 11 inches in diameter. If the water would only gush out of that hole, if only some hidden force would send an 11 inch solid column of water 200 feet into the air to fall in rain and spray, there would be a chance of getting some water for the city. But it does not act that way, strange as it may seem, and we must look to some other source for our fire department supply.

Nov 25, 1880 - The season of fires is now upon us, and we may be called upon at any minute to turn out and help save our city from this devouring element. In what condition are we to meet it? Most of the wells along Main street are dry, hence the "soda-fountain" would be useless. We would just simply have to stand in the street and let the raging demon work its own sweet will.

Feb 10, 1881 - On last Tuesday evening a number of our prominent citizens met in the council rooms to consider the water works question. There were a number of practical suggestions made and it was thought with the expenditure of twenty thousand dollars a reservoir could be made on the mound on the east end of Ninth avenue and the necessary mains laid. Committees were appointed and another meeting to hear their reports will be held at an early day.

Sept 8, 1881 - The Brettun house proprietors have another problem for consideration. Their dry well is filled up and they find it necessary to construct a sewer. It takes thirty barrels of water a day to run the house.

The putting in of dry wells to receive the deposits of waste water about the city will soon be a problem for our city dads to wrestle with. These wells are walled up without mortar, the waste water and slops turned in to seep through and poison all the ground in the neighborhood.

Besides this, some of these dry wells are put down to the gravel from which our water is obtained and mixes, without filtering, with the water we drink. The article and illustrations of Dr. Cooper, which appeared some weeks ago, has brought many to thinking of the water question and we think that about one more illustration of the animals that slide down our throats daily will influence someone to do something. We wish that everyone of our councilmen would swallow a crockodile while drinking at one of the public wells; perhaps they would do something with the garbage catchers under the pumps.

We saw a boy take two spittoons to one of our public wells the other day. He had taken a contract to clean them at five cents apiece. He was a smart boy, and having observed that the city had made splendid arrangements for cleaning spittoons, set it in the nice little square box under the pump, grabbed the handle, and began working up and down. After seeing that the stream of water from the pump struck the spittoon square in the center and that the drainage back into the well was perfect, he needed only to use one hand to pump while with the other he could throw brick bats at a dog or trade jack stones with Johnny McGree. We do not propose to tell which well this enterprising youth uses, as it might "rile" the stomach of one of our councilmen who holds forth nearby.

Oct 6, 1881 - The Brettun House draws part of its water supply from the K. C., L. & S. railroad tank.