172 – Pawnee Power and Water Company

During the fall and winter of 1918, Nathan Jones tirelessly promoted this vision of providing electricity to small towns in the Pawnee and Arkansas valleys and connecting farms for irrigation by electric pump. He held dinners for local farmers where he promoted his plan.

The Tiller and Toiler – August 22, 1918

He invited J.H. Mohler, the Kansas Agriculture Secretary, for tours and speeches. Mohler gave his hearty endorsement.

Jones funded an engineering report by W.B. Rollins, an engineer from Kansas City. The report concluded that the project was economically viable, and that Jones’ calculations and estimates were valid.

In December 1918, Jones got a charter from the state of Kansas to organize the Pawnee Power and Water Company.

The Tiller and Toiler – December 12, 1918

Like his earlier companies, Pawnee Power and Water Company would raise money by selling stock to local investors, many of whom were the farmers that would benefit by being a consumer of the electricity. Jones would get stock and be the general manager of the company.

The Pawnee Power and Water Company officially began business in April 1919.

Larned Chronoscope – April 17, 1919

On April 17, 1919, the Pawnee Power and Water Company held its organizational meeting.

It elected directors and officers, all of whom were local investors. The general manager was Nathan L. Jones, the organizer and visionary.

The object of the company is “to furnish and supply electric light and power to the cities of Rozel, Burdett, Garfield, Belpre, Lewis, Kinsley, and Pawnee Rock, in the state of Kansas, and other cities and consumers in the territory adjacent thereto, for domestic and commercial purposes. To furnish electrical power for plants in the Pawnee and Arkansas valleys and other shallow water districts in the counties of Barton, Pawnee and Edwards, in the state of Kansas.”

Where were Ralph Jarvis and Chleo Webb?

On April 20, 1919, Ralph Jarvis and 4,770 other men celebrated Easter aboard the troop ship USS Manchuria. They were a week out from Brest, France, heading for Hoboken, New Jersey and then home. World War I was over. They were anxious to get home and resume their lives.

Chleo was graduating from Larned High School. She and Ralph had been writing, and she was anxious for him to be back home. She was age 19.

Nibbles Extra Credit – The end of war

Armistice and celebration

The war was over. Europe celebrated. America celebrated.

The technology of war had far surpassed the commanders’ strategy of battle, and horrific deaths ensued. Hundreds of thousands had been killed, often in a futile charge from a trench. Many more died of disease and infection.

So in November 1918, the world celebrated. New York had a tickertape parade. For that day, there was everything to celebrate.

Armistice – November 1918

Postwar recession

At first, the end of wartime production caused a brief but deep recession, the post–World War I recession of 1919–20.

The war ended on November 11, 1918, and America’s economic boom quickly faded. Factories began to ramp down production lines in the summer of 1918, leading to job losses and fewer opportunities for returning soldiers

Troops returning from the war created a surge in the civilian labor force, causing more unemployment and wage stagnation.

American farmers had been selling grain to Europe, as European farms had been ruined by war. As those farms resumed more normal times, American exports dropped dramatically.

Topping it all was something we’ve experienced 100 year later, a devastating pandemic. The 1918 flu killed 50 million people worldwide. Like today, many businesses had to shut down, and didn’t survive.

Timeline – 1919


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