Recollects When Big Cistern Was Dug Back in 1883

Dec. 25, 1930


Now we’ve dug up some definite information on that old cistern, some 12 feet across that the plumbers uncovered the other day while excavating in the alley behind the office of Judge Adolph Andro on Third street.  A news-Republic reader recollects when the big cistern was dug, back in 1883.  The work was done single-handed by one Henry Borders, a somewhat eccentric Englishman who was well known in Baraboo and North Freedom, we are told.  

So long as he could throw the dirt out all was well but as the cistern went deeper, the industrious Englishman had to get more and more industrious, and toward the last he was using a ladder and carrying the dirt out a pailful at a time on his head.  He was a tremendous worker, our informant recollects, and many people used to stand about, watching him at his task. 

The cistern was considered of pretty good size at that time, although most people had sizeable receptables for water in those days.  This particular one was on what was then the Gattiker property.

The largest cistern in town stood in the courthouse park, about midway of the sidewalk which now runs from the southeast corner.  This needed to be large, supplying as it did many of the nearby business places.  It will be remembered that at one time a fire started near what is now the Reinking store and swept up the whole block to the present First National bank building, where it was stopped only by blowing up a building.  At that time the big cistern in the park was an important factor, and a bucket brigade formed from it to the burning buildings across the street.