Biography of Edward Everett Wall
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Edward Everett Wall, water commissioner of St. Louis, who has ever met the requirements of his public position in an eminently satisfactory way, was born at Cambridge, Saline county, Missouri, August 15, 1860, and is a son of John and Mary (Gault) Wall. The father, born in 1819, went to Saline county, Missouri, in 1833, his father there entering three hundred and twenty acres of land, a greater portion of which constitutes the farm now occupied by two of the sons of John Wall. As a member of Doniphan’s regiment John Wall served through the Mexican war and afterward crossed the plains to California with the Argonauts of 1849, returning home in 1851. He then followed commercial pursuits until the Civil war when he volunteered as a private in a Missouri regiment and defended the Union cause throughout the period of hostilities between the north and the south, being promoted to the rank of lieutenant and later brevetted captain.
Following his return home he served for four years as sheriff of Saline county and resumed commercial pursuits, which he followed until 1878, when he took up his abode on the farm which his father had entered from the government in 1833. He died in 1912, at the age of more than ninety-three years, with mental faculties unimpaired, his general health being good until the last year of his life. It was on the 14th of February, 1856, that he wedded Mary Gault, of Scotch ancestry, who was born in 1836 and came of a race of pioneers, a fitting mate for the honest, fearless and determined frontiersman whom she married. Her death occurred in 1909.
Edward Everett Wall prepared for a professional career in the Missouri State University, from which he was graduated in June, 1884, with the degree of Civil Engineer. He then took up the practice of engineering, being employed by the Mississippi River Commission in 1884-5 and on railroad surveys in 1885-6. He engaged in street railway and steam railroad construction in 1886-7 and in 1888 removed to St. Louis where he entered the service of the city in connection with the water department, being thus engaged until the spring of 1889. He then became United States assistant engineer, being employed by the Missouri River Commission and in that position was engaged in secondary triangulation of the Upper Missouri river, from Fort Benton to Bismarck, floating down the river in a houseboat.
From 1890 until 1892 he was engaged in private practice as an engineer and contractor of St. Louis and in the latter year reentered the service of the water department as first assistant engineer of the distribution system, there remaining until 1895 when he accepted the position of first assistant engineer of the sewer department of St. Louis, in charge of all sewer construction and repairs.
After eight years in that position, during which time he was in charge of most responsible work costing several million dollars, he was appointed principal assistant engineer of the St. Louis water department in 1903 and was promoted to assistant water commissioner in 1905. This was followed by his advancement in February, 1911, to his present position as water commissioner of St. Louis. Since 1903 the capacity of the water works has been practically doubled, obsolete machinery has been replaced by modern types, the purification of the river water inaugurated, improved and perfected, the greatest rapid sand filter plant in the world built and put in operation in 1915 and the whole system of water works reconstructed and modernized under the direction of Mr. Wall. Prominent contractors identified with city work say of him that “he has always been noted not only for his ability to design and carry out work, but also for his eminent fairness in dealing with contractors and those assisting him in the carrying out of his plans.” Another has said: “I consider him the equal of any engineer in charge of a water works system for a large city in this country.” He is a member of the following technical organizations: American Society of Civil Engineers, American Water Works Association, New England Water Works Association, American Public Health Association and the Engineers’ Club of St. Louis. Of the last named he has been president and he is now vice president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In addition to his activities along professional lines he is the secretary of the St. Louis Terra Cotta Company.,br>
On the 20th of February, 1901, in Springfield, Illinois, Mr. Wall was married to Miss Jessie Towne, daughter of Francis Wellington and Mary (Vicroy) Towne, the former the younger son of an English baronet, while Mary Vicroy belonged to one of the pioneer families of Hamilton, Ohio, where they were married in 1860.
In his political views Mr. Wall is a republican and fraternally is connected with the Masons, while his membership relations also extend to the Noonday, Riverview, City and Circle Clubs. He is an omnivorous reader of all good literature and is a student and technical literature. He is a well known contributor to the literature of his profession, having written papers for the American Society of Civil Engineers, the St. Louis Engineers’ Club and other such organizations and his public addresses before such gatherings awaken the keenest interest because of his ability to state his opinions in a clear and convincing manner, also indicating the high professional ideals which he cherishes.