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Histories:  Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:

"History of Trempealeau County Wisconsin, 1917":

Chapter 23:  More Historical Papers

Independence Municipal Improvements

-As transcribed from pages 896 - 898

The waterworks system in Independence dates from June 14, 1886, when M. Mulligan, the village president, volunteered to ascertain the cost of the waterworks at Galesville and report at the next meeting.  June 22 of the same year J. C. Taylor, Henry Hanson and L. E. Danuser were appointed a committee to ascertain the cost of pumps to put out fires.  Sept. 13, 1886, President M. Mulligan was instructed to make arrangements with the Mill Company, and to draw up a contract with Goulds & Austin for pumps, pipe and the like.  There was actually built and constructed that fall, three blocks, about 1,000 linear feet, extending from the Mill on Railroad Street and Washington Street, to what is now known as Lyga's Corner.  This main was laid so shallow that the entire system froze up solid during the following winter.  In the following spring and summer the main was lowered.  Sept. 7, 1887, a 200-pound bell was purchased for the village hall.  Feb. 27, 1888, firemen's caps and belts were purchased.  Aug. 6, 1894, J. Zimmers, A. Garthus and C. H. Short were appointed to investigate the waterworks of other places.  On petition of 23 voters, a special election was called for Aug. 25, 1894, to vote on the question of issuing bonds of $2,500 for a waterworks system, but owing to certian technicalities which were not observed, a second election was called May 30, 1895, and at this meeting it was decided by a vote of 102 to 2 to issue bonds of $3,000 payable in three, four and five years.  A. J. Bautch, O. P. Huff and C. H. Short were appointed on the committee to consult with an engineer.  Plans and specifications were accepted May 6, 1895, and a contract was let to J. F. Zilla to build an artesian well, 500 feet deep, on the village lot.  A lease was secured from Albert J. Bautch for the site for a reservoir on the hill just west of the village limits.  June 20, 18995, the contract was let to install the waterworks for $5,244.34.  Aug 20, 1895, the well was completed and Mr. Zilla paid $722.06.  That summer the pumphouse and reservoir were completed.  Sept. 25, 1895, a contract was made with John Dagan to lower the old water mains from Third Street to the Mill.  Dec. 9, 1896, trouble had developed at the pump by reason of sand.  The trouble continued.  By a resolution passed Oct. 11, 1897, a large shallow well was constructed, arranged to filter water through from the creek.  The well was in working order early in the summer of 1898.  Jan. 24, 1901, it was voted to extend the mains on Fifth Street, 640 feet, and on Third Street, 460 feet, with four new hydrants.

Sept. 12, 1908, a contract was awarded A. J. Bautch to extend the water mains across the lake, and up to the Catholic church, and to install the proper hydrants.  On June 22, 1909, the citizens by a vote of 65 to 54 rejected the proposition to bond the village for $3,200 for a sewer system.  But on March 27, 1911, in accordance with a petition previously presented, the village board ordered an eleciton to be held on April 25, 1911, on the question of bonding the village $3,500 for waterworks and a like amount for a sewer system.  On the date set both propositons were carried, the sewer vote being 95 to 37 and the water vote being 95 to 35.  Jan. 23, 1911, a contract for the sewer system was let to F. C. Robinson & Co. for $9,200.  Oct. 24, 1911, the village board purchased for $1,000 an acre of land from Jacob Jackson, on which to dig wells and erect a pumping house.  Oct. 31, 1911, a contract was let for about $700 for an addition to the sewer system on Fifth Street.  April 19, 1912, a contract was let for furnishing an oil engine, pumps, pump house, extension of the water mains and completion of the entire work, at $4,000, and on May 29, 1912, it was voted to purchase an oil tank for the water plant at $470.  Oct. 6, 1913, an extension of the sewer system was voted, 620 feet, for $690.  In October, 1915, sewer and waterworks extensions were made at a cost of $3,200.

Independence is noted for its excellent street system.  As early as May 24, 1886, the village purchased at a cost of $218.50 a road grader, probably the first in Trempealeau County.  May 31, 1886, John Elstad was appointed street commissioner at $2 for each days' work of 10 hours.  It was also decided that the road grader be let to districts desiring it, the grader to be in charge of a man designated by the village board, his wages to be paid by the district using it.  On Aug 7, 1899, by a vote of 59 to 3, the citizens declared in favor of issuing bonds of $3,000, payable in two, three and four years, with interest at 5 per cent, for the purpose of building a 150-foot span steel brdige over Elk Creek at the mill.  The contract was let Sept. 4, 1899, to J. G. Wagner & Co., of Milwaukee, for $5,047.  May 11, 1900, a sidewalk resolution was passed, leading to the construction of many miles of cement walks.  Aug. 23, 1913, the village board took the necessary action to place certain streets of the village ont he county system of prospective highways, and raised $1,000 to macadam the following year the Osseo-Independence highway from the mill to the north limits of the village.  The work was done in 1914, and $3,000, including county and State aid, was expended.  Aug. 3, 1914, the board raised $2,000 for 1915 street improvements under the State aid plan, so that $6,000 became available.  May 20, 1915, the board adopted brick laid over a sand cushion was the type of pavement for the main streets of the village.  In 1915 there was constructed on the main street of the village 7,500 square yards of asphalt bound brick pavement at a cost of $11,000, 1,900 square yards of macadam pavement costing $1,600, and curb and gutter costing $500.  In 1916 there was constructed 3,500 yards of brick paving costing $5,500, and 2,000 linear feet of curb and gutter costing $1,050.  The permanent street improvements for the two years cost the village $25,000, without creating any bonded indebtedness.

The sightly village hall at Independence has an interesting history.  June 14, 1886, the board voted to purchase a building from John Sprecher for $135.  May 17, 1886, it was voted to purchase lot 4, block 10, original plan, 60 by 120 feet, for $100.  Later lot 5 was purchased.  As the years passed, there came the necessity for a larger hall.  Consequently at an election held May 5, 1902, by a vote of 79 to 18, it was decided to issue bonds of $8,000, payable in eight installments, the first in two years, and then annually thereafter, for the purpose of erecting a village hall and electric light plant.  C. G. Maybury, of Winona, was secured as architect.  All the orignal bids were found to be too high, and so the plans were reviesed to reduce the cost.  Aug. 20, 1902, the contract was let to H. and F. Roettiger, of Fountain City, for $11,000.  At a special election held May 25, 1903, by a vote of 66 to 20, the voeters declared in bonding the village for $2,950, payable in six annual installments begining in 1917, for the purpose of erecting an electric light plant.  The cyclone came Oct. 3, 1905, causing considerable damage and suffering in the village, and partly demolishing the city hall.  A temporary roof was built.  July 30, 1906, a contract was let to C. A. Sweet for completing the hall at $2,812, and the heating contract was let to J. V. Cummings for $1,225.  The same year $200 was expended for stage scenery and $135 for a piano.  Aug. 20, 1909, it was voted to buy a new boiler for the elctric light plant at $1,366.  July 14, 1910, it was voted to buy a clock and bell for the city hall tower at $1,000 from the Seth Thomas Clock Company.  March 7, 1892 the first appropriation was made for a public library.  July 22, 1907, $500 was apprpriated for the purpose of installing a library in the city hall.  The franchise to the Arcadia Telephone Company was granted July 11, 1896, and to the Independence Farmer's Telephone Company on Feb. 4, 1901.

 - (Gathered from the Records by John A. Markham, village president, and Jacob Jackson, village clerk.)

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