Window to the Past
Delphos Waterworks Park History
By BOB HOLDGREVE
Delphos, the keystone of three counties, will on Independence Day complete another page in the history of its civic growth when it officially opens and dedicates another monument to public spirit and civic pride.
The Delphos Waterworks Park and Municipal Playground, opening on July 4, (1923), will be the occasion of an epochal celebration by the community at large. Thousands will attend the inaugural of the greatest contribution to the modern progress of this enterprising city.
Every citizen residing in the area surrounding Delphos is interested in this project, for it is not only intended for the enjoyment of Delphos people, but for all who may wish being there. With that end in view, the people of Delphos have issued an invitation to all to join with them in the huge public fete.
Though it remained for the year 1923 to be honored for the climax of this venture, the idea is not a new one. Almost 20 years ago, citizens saw the light on the advancement of this enterprise for which the Fourth of July celebration will mark the culmination.
Ever since the project was started, public spirited citizens have proceeded under the time honored and democratic doctrine that an enterprise of this kind can only be successful when of the people, for the people and by the people of the community.
From a small grove of trees planted by a few, the park has advanced to its present, many and varied facilities by an awakened public. Perhaps to no one other individual, will come the pride and satisfaction in the realization of an ideal, more strongly than to Mr. John Wahmhoff, originator of the park idea.
The ground belonged originally to Mr. Suthoff, an early pioneer. In 1895, the city purchased six and a half acres for waterworks purposes. The tract however, remained idle until 1898, when Mr. Wahmhoff conceived the idea of a public park for the town of Delphos.
Plans were soon formulated and Mr. Wahmhoff in company with Aaron Fisher, another interested pioneer, laid before the city officials their idea of park development. The land at that time being insufficiently shaded for park purposes, the first essential that of tree planting was considered. The city officials named Albert Schmuekle to assist in the park development. According to Mr. Wahmhoff, "On Labor Day, 1898, headed by a band, the clergy, city officials and 24 loads of manure, the citizens held a parade and tree planting celebration." The Rev. Mr. Briggs delivered an eloquent address on Parks. The final count showed 475 young twigs ready to shoot upward and provide additional shade for the park. The work was followed up by the committee to enclose the grounds, cut the brush, and laying pipe lines to provide water for the young trees and any flower beds that might be planted by the citizens. Further additions were made to the committee and soon a bridge was built to span the creek. Interest finally waned and the park was left without care.
The plot remained so until 10 years ago, (1913) when the Commercial Club formed in the city, and undertook as its first move for civic improvement, the almost forgotten park. Through their efforts the bandstand, the swings, see-saws and several out buildings now in the park were built or purchased. Once more progress seemed assured, but difficulties arose within the club and the organization finally disbanded.
At the time when a Labor Day celebration was held at the park a number of years ago, H.L. Leilich, at that time, manager of the Delphos Manufacturing Company, presented the park with a ticket office of metal construction as a gift from that company. This office is still in use.
The park again was without interest and remained so until June 22, 1922 when the Kiwanis Club of Delphos took for its main project of the year, the completion of the park. Adhering rigidly to Kiwanian principal of community service, the entire community was called upon to assist, and the affair soon made a purely community project. A general subscription at the start melted in round numbers about $2,000. (1922 dollars R.H.)
The first and most essential feature of modern park construction was planned and soon under construction in the form of a solid concrete swimming pool, 40x120 ft. in dimensions, the depth ranging from 15 inches to 5 feet.
Realizing the benefit to community good from such a movement, Mr. Joseph Roth donated the beautiful fountain, adorning the entrance to the park. The Boy Scouts have also helped in placing the park in order for the Fourth.
A baseball grounds has been laid out at the southeast corner of the park, $200 having been voted for this and other purposes by the Eagles of Delphos. A bathhouse has been built by the side of the swimming pool by the Knights of Columbus at an approximate cost of $650. Playground equipment has been added with a slide having been donated by the Maccabees, and a giant slide has been purchased by the committee. A picnic table with a roof and a concrete floor is to be erected in the park by the Odd Fellows of the city. Cash donations were made by C.L. of D., the Pythian Sisters, the ladies branch of the C.K. of A. are now creating a fund.
Other local organizations are intending to make donations to the cause.
The city now feels assured of a recreational center. Everything which goes to make a general good time will be in readiness on Independence Day.
You can have bathing, baseball, shows and races of all kinds and a real first class athletic show in the evening. Everybody is invited and welcome to the city of Delphos on Independence Day.
Delphos Herald 1923
Start of the Water System Plant in 1898from its inauguration to Jan. 1, 1898
To the Public:
The Trustees of the Delphos Water Works, feeling that they are being misunderstood, wish to make the following statement, to-wit: At the first meeting of the Village Council in January of this year, the Trustees, through their clerk, presented a full report, covering the entire history of the plant from its commencement to Jan. 1, 1898. This report shows the amount of money received and expanded, from what source it came and for what purpose expended. It also explained the reason why, and the necessity for asking for an additional appropriation of $5,000 for the maintenance of the plant until it could be made self supporting. The solicitude of the Council for the protection and enlightenment of the taxpayers is evidenced by their having appointed three special committees to examine the acts of the Trustees. To assist them in their direction we made our annual report very complete and necessarily quite voluminous, expecting and desiring its publication for the benefit of the people who they seemed so anxious to serve and protect. The council having failed, after three months to publish said report, we feel we owe ourselves and the taxpayers, to publish the following synopsis of the annual report so that all may have the opportunity to know the exact cost of every item entering into the installment of the Water Works plant. We therefore submit the following account of our stewardship and add that the books of the Trustees are open for the inspection of every citizen, and we invite you to call and examine them at any time:
Received from sale of bonds $78,541.74
Received from taps $660.00
Received from services $930.43
Total receipt $80,132.17
Expenditures as per schedule $79,452.81
Balance on hand $679.36
Waterworks Trustees to the Shaw Kendall Engineering Co.
To waterworks plant as per spec. $63,800.00
17.73 tons 12 inch pipe $319.14
591 ft. 12 inch pipe laying $159.57
(Also all individual item expenses listed down to $2.25 items. R.H.)
Delphos Herald 1898
Compiled by Robert Holdgreve
Delphos Historical Society
May 21, 2005 Delphos Herald Newspaper