During the early life of Highland, the water supply was secured from dug wells and cisterns. The first industries established here that needed any unusual supplies of water were the Joseph Suppiger Mill and the early breweries of John Geismann, then the Jefferson Brewery, and still later the Schott Brewing Co.
The mill needed water to make steam, and the brewery had to have a supply of purer water, but in the early days, had trouble getting it, so they built some large cisterns at various places and also drilled deep wells.
After the establishment, in 1885, of the Helvetia Milk Condensing Co., they also needed vast quantities of water, and they drilled an artesian well to over 1,000 feet deep. But even then the need could not be satisfactorily met by the milk company. So, the milk company went even further and laid a pipe line from the old coal mine shaft on west Zschokke Street (now called Broadway).
Yet, still more water was needed by the milk company.
“In the end, they bought a tract of 80 acres of land north of Highland and impounded a supply of water, which after being piped into town, met their needs, as long as they were operating here. The company was soon joined by the former Schott Brewing Co., which was started by Gerhard Schott and is now known as Highland Brewing Co. and owned by Gerhard Schott’s sons.”
The Helvetia Milk Condensing Co. closed their plant in Highland in 1920, when the dairy farmers pulled a strike for a higher price for their milk. The Highland Brewing Co. was put out of business after the ratification of the 18th Amendment in 1919, called Prohibition.
The brewery and then the milk factory discontinued their big demand for water, while the Highland residents wanted the city to acquire a sufficient water supply for all homes and businesses.
The Highland Dairy Farms Co., around this time, began to bottle milk, at the northwest corner of 6th and Zschokke.
Shortly thereafter, the St. Louis Dairy Co. acquired the former Helvetia Milk Condensing plant at the northeast corner of 6th and Zschokke streets in town.
These two pasteurizing plants made the need for a city water supply more imperative than ever.
The city was left wondering where were these 80 acres of land and what made it a great place to get water?
The city had already contained a small lake, better known today as Bargetzi Lake, and a great spring that was producing 60,000 gallons of water a day, which is now part of Silver Lake Park and Holiday Manor subdivisions.
If you are wanting to hear more, please check out my column next week to get additional information, as we will start of Saline Township. Below is a sneak preview of the column.
“Little Silver Creek was coming down from Fitz-James Crossing, later called Saline and now called Grantfork.
James Reynolds and his family owned the northeast corner of Section 30, including the middle of Little Silver Creek and about of Section 29, laying just to the east of Section 30.
I will now go to The Story of the Setting of Highland, by Solomon Koepfli, the youngest son of Dr. Caspar Koepfli, the leader of the 15 Swiss immigrants, that came to Looking Glass Prairie, McAlilly Settlement on Oct.15, 1831. Published in German by the Highland Bote in 1859, this book was later translated by Jennie Latzer Kaeser and privately printed in 1970 with only 150 copies made.
Koepfli stated on Oct. 15, 1831, he was in Looking Glass Prairie, from the site of future home that he was looking for the James Reynolds farm.
“We soon came to the Silver Creek bottom,” Koepfli stated. “We were glad to find a wagon track which soon led us to the desired Little Silver Creek. Everyone got off the wagons, and we watched the difficulties as they were crossing the creek, we followed. We again were seated in the wagons, gradually reaching higher ground by degrees, rolling over layers of stone, mighty moss-covered rocks, as well as black strips of coal, which gave an indication of what lay below. (Later there was coal mined on James Reynolds farm.)
“Now, we heard a group of hunting dogs and they followed our wagons, barking,” Koepfli stated. “To the left was some animal lots and barns built of rough wood He also recalled seeing a little milk-house built over a bubbling spring. (This spring was still putting out over 60,000 gallons of water, a day, when the brewery and milk company purchased these 80 acres.)
“Straight ahead stood two log houses, connected by a crude arbor and enclosed by a strong rail-fence,” Koepfli continued to write. “We stopped and James Reynolds appeared, a powerful looking man, clothed from head to foot in dyed deer skin. He quieted the dogs and bade us strangers welcome to his farm. He told us the land and three cabins we had bought from the McAlilly family, were less than a mile away. (Where the Highland Cemetery and the Raeber farm are located today.)
“It was not long before we were led to the east log-house, where we met Mrs. Reynolds and their daughter, probably Nancy Reynolds with (Mrs. Samuel) Thorp, who lived southwest of the Reynolds.”
James Reynolds other daughter, Sarah Reynolds (Mrs. Curtis Jr.) Blakeman, lived in the Marine Settlement. Sarah and Curtis Blackmen are my great, great grandparents.
So, James and Sophia Reynolds are my great-great-great-grandparents.
In the kitchen, Koepfli recalled seeing kettles hung on hooks in the fireplace and a pleasant noon-day meal was served, including roasted wild turkey, wild venison, fried potatoes, hominy (Indian corn with hulls removed after long soaking) and honey.
(Quotes in this story have been reprinted from the Centennial History of Highland, The Settling of Highland, Saline Township, 1851 and from Roland Harris’ personal files.)