Pontiac Village and City 1860s
GAS-WORKS. The preliminary steps looking to the erection of gas-works were taken March 20, 1860, when the question was discussed and the proper committee appointed to look after the matter.
An ordinance was passed, on the 21st of the same month, authorizing Enos F. Chappell to form a stock-company and erect gas-works.
This contract seems not to have been carried out, for we find that on the 22d of August of the same year articles of agreement were entered into between the corporation and Wellard M. McConnell, Horace C. Thurber, Levi Bacon, Jr., and Michael E. Crofoot to construct works and furnish gas at a price not exceeding, six dollars per cubic foot for "rosin gas" and four dollars per cubic foot for coal gas.
Another proposition bad been received from J. W. Strong and associates to erect works and supply gas, but would not bind themselves to furnish at less than four dollars per one thousand feet, and required a guaranty for twenty-five years. This proposition was rejected by the council.
A new bridge on Pike street, west of the railroad, was constructed during 1860. 'The contract was taken by William Scott at four hundred and forty-eight dollars.
The following sums were allowed the corporation officers as salaries for the year, May 5, 1860: R. W. Davis, president, $35.50; Charles J. Fox, recorder, $230.39; M. G. Spear, trustee, $62.50; R. L. Handlin, trustee, $58.5.0; Chas. Pittman,, trustee, $57.
The following sums were expended on streets, etc.: On Lawrence street,, $420.84; on Pike street, Saginaw street, and bridge, $33.98; on Rochester road, and on Church and Parke streets, $171.25; total, $626.07.
The annual statement of receipts and expenses for the year ending May 5, 1860, was:
Total receipts $4626.19
Expended on account general fund$1870.60
Streets and bridges 2273.38
fire department 500.37
Oak Hill cemetery 42.28
Outstanding orders 227.11
The council allowed James H. Lockwood two dollars per day for sprinkling Saginaw street during the season.
Fifty dollars were appropriated by the council to aid the firemen in celebrating the anniversary of American independence, to be expended under the supervision of the marshal.
Improvements seem to have been the order of the day, and on September 22 a contract was let to Henry Comstock for graveling the south part of Saginaw street, to the corporation limits, at twenty-two cents per cubic yard of gravel.
Pontiac was chartered as a city by an act of the legislature, approved by the governor, March 15, 1861.
Under the new charter the established limits were the same as those of the village, to wit: section 29, the west half of section 28, the north half of section 32, and the northwest quarter of section 33.There have been four amendments to the original act, to wit: March 18, 1865, March 20, 1867, March 20, 1869, and March 9, 1871.
By the amendment of March 20, 1867, the limits were extended to include the south half sections 19, 20, and 21, and all of sections 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, and 33, making an area three by two and a half miles, and including four thousand eight hundred acres. These are the present city limits, and also the limits of the union school district of Pontiac.
CHANGE IN WARDS AND BOUNDARIES. By the provisions of the amended act of March, 1867, the city was divided into four wards, with boundaries as follows: " The first ward shall embrace all that portion of the city which is bounded as follows: Commencing at the centre of Saginaw street, where the same is crossed by the centre of Pike street, and running thence westerly along the centre of Pike street to William street; thence south along the centre of William street to the centre of the Orchard Lake road; thence westerly along the centre of said road to the section line between sections 31 and 32; thence north to section line between sections 30 and 31; thence west on said section line to the western boundary of said city; thence south on said boundary to the southwest corner of said city; thence easterly along the southern boundary thereof to the section line between sections 32 and 33; thence north along said section line to the centre of Saginaw street; thence northerly along the centre of said street to the place of beginning. And the second ward of said city shall embrace that portion thereof which is bounded as follows: commencing at the northeast corner of said first ward, and running thence easterly along the centre of Pike street to the Factory road, so called; thence southerly along said road to the Auburn road, so called; thence east along said Auburn road to the eastern boundary of said city; thence south on the eastern boundary of said city to the southern boundary thereof; thence west along said southern boundary to the first ward; and thence northerly along the eastern boundary of said first ward to the place of beginning.
"The third ward of said city shall embrace all that portion of said city which is bounded as follows: commencing at the northeast corner of said first ward, and running thence northerly along the centre of Saginaw street to the north end thereof; thence north to the northern boundary of said city; thence east along said boundary to the eastern boundary thereof; thence south along said eastern boundary to the said second ward; and thence westward along the north side of said second ward to the place of beginning.
"And the fourth ward of said city shall embrace all that part of said city not included in the first, second, and third wards thereof."
OFFICERS AND ELECTIONS. The qualifications to render a person eligible to office are that he shall be an elector and resident of the city, ward, or district; and if he changes his residence during his term of office from the ward or district he represents the office becomes vacant.
The seventh section of the charter, governing elections, is as follows: "At each annual election there shall be elected one mayor, one clerk, each of whom shall hold his office for the term of one year; also, at such election the electors of each ward in said city shall elect one alderman, who shall hold his office two years: Provided, That, at the first election held under this act, two aldermen shall be elected in each ward, —one for the term of one year and one for the term X. Under this subdivision one alderman was elected annually in each ward; there being two elected at the first election, one for one and one for two years. of two years, and until their successors shall be elected and qualified, and that the term for which said aldermen are elected, at said first election, shall be designated on the ballots. There shall be elected annually in each ward, by the electors thereof, one supervisor, one treasurer, and one constable, who shall hold their offices for one year; and at the first election, and at each fourth annual election thereafter, the electors of the first and second wards, which wards are hereby constituted a judicial district, shall also elect one justice of the peace; and the electors of the third and fourth wards, which wards are hereby constituted another judicial district, shall also elect one justice of the peace; which said justices of the peace shall enter upon the duties of their respective offices on the fourth of July, then next, and hold the same for four years: Provided, That at said first election one additional justice of the peace shall be elected in each of said districts, to hold his office until the fourth day of July, 1867.
"All justice's dockets, lawfully being, at the time this act shall take effect, in the hands of the justice of the peace residing in either of the judicial districts of said city, shall pass into and be in the possession of the justice of the peace elected for the same judicial district, whenever he shall be duly qualified. Provided, That the justices of the peace now in office shall continue to hold their respective offices during the terms for which they were respectively elected."
The common council have power to appoint a city treasurer, marshal, fire wardens, superintendents of cemeteries, watchmen, a city physician, a city attorney, and such other officers as they may deem necessary to execute the powers granted in the charter.
WAR BOUNTY. On the 9th of February, 1864, the council passed a resolution to call a special election on the 22d instant for the purpose of voting for and against a proposition to raise money to pay bounties to volunteers under the president's call for five hundred thousand men.
The vote was decided in the affirmative, and the amount was fixed at one hundred dollars for each volunteer.
In November, 1864, the United States telegraph company was granted permission to erect their line through the city under the supervision of the street commissioners.
Some time during the fall and winter of 1864-65 Mayor Cudworth, by authority of the council, entered into a contract with the gas company to supply the city for illuminating purposes.
The meeting was largely attended by citizens of all classes. Morgan L. Drake was chosenchairman of a committee, which reported a series of stirring resolutions, expressive of detestation of the assassin, and having the ring of true patriotism in every sentence. Among the speakers who addressed the meeting were Dr. M. L. Bagg, A. C. Baldwin, Judge Green, H. M. Look, Z. B. Knight, and others, including leading men of all parties. The churches were draped in mourning for thirty days.
The treasurer's report for the year ending April 25, 1865, showed his total receipts to have been $17.066.91, and the total expenses $16,700.53. The city indebtedness at the same date being, for war bonds issued, $9840, of which $4400 belonged to the first ward, and $5440 to the second. The bonds of the city treasurer were fixed at $20,000.
It was during the year 1865 that the city became entangled in the matter of paying one Z. B. Knight a claim for war bounties advanced by him, to the amount of $601.33.
In August the claim was examined and allowed, and orders issued covering the same; but at a meeting of the council, held on the 29th of the same month, the matter was reconsidered, the former action rescinded, and notice given that the orders would not be paid.
On the 20th day of February, 1866, permission was granted the Pontiac and Orchard Lake Gravel Road company to gravel said road from the western limits of the city to William street.
The fire limits of the city were extended by an ordinance, framed and adopted April 10, of this year, to include the blocks on each side of Saginaw street, from the Northern hotel to the Methodist Episcopal church.
The total receipts into the city treasury for the year ending April, 1866, were $17,904.74, and the total expenditures were $15,084.09, leaving a balance in treasury of $2820.65. The school-tax for the year was $16,000. In 1866 the receipts and expenditures of the city reached the heavy sum of $25,816.10, and in 1867 they had increased to $40,315.14.
A night police was established some time during the winter of 1867-68, and A. S. Shaw and William Burt appointed watchmen and patrolmen. This was the first attempt at the establishment of a city police department, and continues substantially the same to-day.
Under the amended charter of March, 1867, the city was divided into four wards, with two aldermen to each ward; and under the same act the school limits of the Pontiac union school were made co-extensive with the city limits.
One of the first acts of the newly-elected council of 1868 was the disbandment of the night-police force.
CITY BUILDING. The fine brick structure for the use of the city, on Pike street, was erected during the years 1867 and 1868, at a cost of about twelve thousand dollars. It is occupied wholly by the fire department, in the history of which a more extended account will be found.
REVISING THE CHARTER. The workings of the city charter not being entirely satisfactory, the matter of a revision was discussed at various times, and on the 15th of June, 1868, the council resolved to refer the subject to a committee of attorneys, and named the following gentlemen: Hon. Augustus C. Baldwin, Hon. M. E. Crofoot, Hon. H. M. Look, Mark Walter, and Levi Bacon, Jr., Esqs. When the revision was completed it was to be incorporated in a bill, and presented to the legislature for their action.
This revision took the form of an amended charter, which was approved March 20, 1869. The receipts into the city treasury for 1868 were $27,489.80, and the expenditures were $24,491.95.
The question of the liquor traffic seems to have been extensively agitated in 1869. In November of that year a petition, signed by Mrs. H. M. Look and eight hundred others, praying for the passage of a prohibitory ordinance, was presented to the honorable common council, but upon careful consideration was respectfully refused.
In March, 1869, the gas question was taken up and discussed by the council. It appeared that the city was paying at the rate of four dollars and eighty cents per thousand feet, under a contract entered into when coal was selling at eleven dollars per ton. Coal had since fallen to about six dollars, and the understanding was that as coal cheapened a corresponding reduction would be made in the cost of gas. This had not been done, and the matter was referred to a special committee for investigation.
The night-police were reorganized after a short suspension, and we find that during the year 1868 the expenditures in this department were $566.10. Expenditures for the fire department for same time, $2232.50. Total city expenditures for the year, $32,944.23.
Source: History of Oakland County, Michigan by Durant, Samuel W. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & co., 1877.
MAYOR CUDWORTH'S PROCLAMATION UPON THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENTLINCOLN.
"MAYOR'S OFFICE, CITY OF PONTIAC, April 15, 1865.
"Whereas, It has been made known that Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, has been recently assassinated:
"Therefore, I, A. B. Cudworth, mayor of the city of Pontiac, do hereby request the citizens of said city to meet at the court-house this evening, at half-past seven o'clock, to offer their condolence, and express their sentiments with others on this the saddest and most mournful event in the annals of our common country.
"A. B. CUDWORTH."