History of the Fountain
A Watering Trough For Horses
Fountain found a new life and a new home after quiz!
We want to thank Bill Chilles from the Vinalhaven Historical Society in Vinalhaven, Maine for this interesting photo of fountains lined up in Maine ready for delivery to various parts of the United States. The date on the plaques is 1907, a year after Derby had become one of the first cities across the U.S. to receive a National Humane Alliance Fountain. If you look carefully, you will see that they are not all identical. One fountain at the left in the photo is different in having a cylindrical upper pedestal compared to the rectangular one found on the others and in Derby. A 1910 version is pictured at the left. In an article about the fountain in Seneca, Kansas, there is a reference to a "second size" fountain, which evidently referred to the fountains with the smaller cylindrical tops.
It appears that Derby's fountain was likely quarried on Vinalhaven which is an island off the coast from Rockland. Joseph R. Bodwell who went on to become the 40th governor of Maine opened several small quarries starting in 1852 that eventually became the Bodwell Granite Company.
Mr. Chilles and other members of the Vinalhaven Historical Society have been doing research on the Granite Company and the fountains produced there. We have been sharing our information as we continue to expand on the history of the fountains with new ones being reported regularly. Derby is not the only city to restore its fountain lately. Not all of the fountains functions as fountains any longer, and one (Mobile, AL) has restored its spigots as horse heads rather than lions head. Roanoke, VA recently restored their fountain to working order.
Add Hot Springs, Arkansas to the growing list of fountains that we have identified.
Our latest additions are two fountains from Colorado and one from Tennessee. The one in Colorado Springs appears to have disappeared. The second one is in Grand Junction, and you can read a great new story about it here. Go to page 9 when you get there. The one in Tennessee is located in front of a funeral home in Bristol. We want to thank Mike and Jennifer Moore for locating the Bristol fountain.
There were more than 100 fountains distributed. Click here for a more complete listing beyond just the ones that we have pictures for.
Fountain Gets New Home and Complete Restoration on the Greenway
When this quiz was first presented, the National Humane Alliance was found at the bottom of Founders Commons. However, based upon the interest generated by this quiz and subsequent development of the Derby Greenway, the fountain was moved to the Derby Greenway by the Department of Public Works on Thursday, June 22, 2006, restored to its original working condition and rededicated on September 1, 2007.
Original location at Seymour & Atwater Avenues
The watering trough pictured above was presented to the city in 1906 by a group called the National Humane Alliance. It was once located at the junction of Seymour Avenue and Atwater Avenue, but was moved to Founders Common on the other side of town in May, 1951 when Rt. 8 was being planned.
The fountain arrived here from Rockland, Maine in the middle of May, and Seccombe Brothers of Ansonia set it up on a foundation built by James Carroll of Derby with the plumbing work being done by E. W. Peck & Co. The imposing structure is made of granite and weighs five tons. The large bowl is six foot across and the fountain is over six feet tall. At the base, there are are four small water bowls for dogs, cats and other animals. The pillar above the bowl had spigots resembling lions heads on three sides and and a plaque on the fourth. The water was turned on by Mayor Hubbell on Friday, June 1, 1906. According to a report published in The Evening Sentinel the next day, a horse owned by R. F. Cuddihy of Derby was the first to take a drink from the trough while Frank Ford's dog "Ponto" was the first to drink from the lower level of the fountain. There had been an old and rather unsightly iron trough on the spot for years, and reports indicate that the neighbors were quite pleased with the new design.
The watering trough is not as ornate as it once was as the lions head spigots which were once found on three sides have long since vanished. A simple plaque on the fourth side of the fountain states simply, "1906 Presented by the National Humane Alliance - Hermon Lee Ensign Founder." Mr. Ensign left his fortune to the Humane Alliance, which he founded to carry out his ideas for welfare of animals. His childhood love of animals grew and became the dominating interest of his life. He acquired his fortune through twenty years in the advertising business. He created a new form of newspaper advertising -- headline reading advertisement. He also invented the stereotype plate with removable base.
The National Humane Alliance of New York was incorporated in 1897 with offices at 114 Nassau Street. Mr. Ensign was the President and Manager. It's statement of purpose was: "While the Alliance is not exactly a charity, it is founded on humanitarian ideas. It desires to educate people, particularly the rising generation, to be kind and gentle among themselves and to treat all dumb animals humanely. The plan is different from that of any other organization. The society leaves the enforcement of law to others. Its work is humane education. The idea is that you make better citizens as you eliminate cruelty and brutality from the mind and instill gentleness and kindness. If a man or boy is educated on this line, so that he feels a pleasure in being considerate of animals as well as of his fellow-beings, he cannot be other than a good citizen. These are the argument and the theory in a nutshell. The National Humane Alliance publishes and circulates pamphlets as well as a newspaper, and has branches in other cities and States". (World Almanac and encyclopedia, 1898, page 294).
Ensign also wrote a collection of stories in 1901 - Lady Lee and Other Animal Stories - which was a collection of 10 illustrate stories all related to animals.
Derby was not the only city to have such a watering trough as the National Humane Alliance placed identical troughs in cities such as Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Paducah, Kentucky, Shawnee, Oklahoma; Carson City, Nevada; Abbeville, South Carolina; Austin, Minnesota; Charlotte, North Carolina; Austin, Vermont; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Clinton, Missouri; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Rapid City, South Dakota; San Diego, California, Carson City Nevada and Ottumwa, Iowa. Most of them have the date of 1906 or 1907 on them, but others show 1911 as their date. In total, we have discovered that there were at least 70 fountains distributed across the U.S. and one in Mexico with estimates of up to 125 having been distributed.
A recent discovery indicates that the National Humane Alliance finished its business and closed up shop around 1921