ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin




Lewis Fountain


Native American Statue

Intersection of West Main and Washington Streets


This zinc statue of an Indian Chief is an exact duplicate of the statue that once stood in the center of the intersection of Main and Washington Streets.  The original figure was gifted to the city by industrialist and city benefactor Robert E. Lewis and his wife Fanny in memory of their son, Clifton, in 1896.  It was created by the J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York.  The original statue stood on top of an ornamental fountain that provided drinking water for animals and thirsty passersby.  It stood in place for nearly 30 years until it was struck by a passing motorist in 1925 and knocked off its perch.


The original statue was damaged beyond repair and so an exact duplicate was ordered from the original manufacturer and placed in Union Park, where it stood for nearly 30 years, suffering damage at the hands of vandals, small children and the elements.  In the early 1960s the City of Watertown decided to remove the statue.  Rather than sell it for scrap, city officials decided the best place for it would be to entrust it to the Watertown Historical Society.  Accordingly, the statue was placed on the grounds near the Octagon House in 1964, where it has remained ever since.


This statue, which depicts an unknown Indian Chief, is one of many such statues that can be found in several parts of the United States.  It is a masterpiece of the sculptor’s art.  It also serves as a visual reminder of the many Native American peoples who once lived in and around Watertown.



Indian Statue is cast zinc; manufactured by J. L. Mott


^ click to see source ^


Jordon L. Mott Iron Works sold zinc statuary, acquiring models

and designs in Europe, making its castings in the U.S.


The statue of an Indian was originally a wood carving created by Samuel Anderson Robb who was the leading cigar store Indian peddler.  It was carved for William Demuth & Co. who cast it in zinc and advertised it in his catalog as “No. 53 Indian Chief.”  In 1873, the J. L. Mott Iron Works purchased the design and listed it in their catalog of statuary. In his right hand the Indian Chief holds an arrow, and in his left hand he holds a bow attached to a base near his left foot, which rests on a rock.  [Source and detailed info on fountain and statue]




Plate on Lewis Fountain Indian Statue:  The J. L. Mott Iron Wks, N.Y.


Reproductions of this Indian statue



Probably the city's most generous donors were Robert E. and Fanny Lewis.  In 1898 [drawing appeared in 1897 City Dir] , as a memorial to their son Clifton, they donated the money for a unique drinking fountain with tiered troughs for animals and cups for humans.  Above the fountain was the statue of a Chippewa chieftain.  When this fountain-statue was placed in the middle of West Main Street, it was not only imposing but useful, for drivers stopped there to water their horses, and thirsty dogs lapped up water from the lowest troughs.  But when automobiles came in, the troughs were accidentally damaged and the fountain had to be removed.  The noble Indian has found a new site at the Octagon House, where he looks out toward the Rock River, as his living counterparts once did when the river and the land belonged to them.    Kiessling, Elmer C., Watertown Remembered, (Milwaukee) 1986, p. 218.






     Looking east, Main and Washington






     Picturesque Watertown book 



07 18     Every town and village in America owes it to humanity to set up at least one drinking fountain where horses and dogs can slake their thirst.  But few towns are so situated that this cannot be conveniently arranged for, and will be found to pay, even as an investment.  A farmer will drive a mile farther to reach such a place, and there is seldom a mad dog scare where water is plentiful.



    Prior to laying of interurban trolley tracks in 1908.

Sprinkler wagon keeping dust down on Main Street.


     (Interurban tracks laid in 1908)


1906       If you want to get sprinkled meet me at the fountain - or the bath tub; and if you are thirsty don't go to the fountain unless you desire to get wet inside and outside.  Go with a sprinkling can or four new cups.   Sept 20


Editor - Leader: Please republish the above item concerning necessary conveniences at the fountain, West Main Street.  Parties here must object to replacing leaky cups - if so will someone name them.   A Citizen.




07 31       LEWIS FOUNTAIN REMOVED while street car tracks being laid 

The Board of Public Works has removed the Lewis fountain at the corner of West Main, Washington and North Washington streets temporarily while the street car tracks are being laid.  As soon as the street railway is completed the fountain will be replaced on its old site on a better foundation than heretofore and connected with larger pipes for the overflow to be taken away.  The watering troughs will be turned east and west, making it more convenient for teamsters to water their horses than heretofore, and decreasing the chances of accident.  The Board is to be commended for deciding to retain the fountain at this point, not only for the reason that it was placed there by the only real philanthropist that Watertown has ever had, the late Robert E. Lewis, but also for the reason that it will at that point be the means of quenching the thirst of more animals than at any other place in the city. Watertown people are not unlike people the world over, they have a kindly feeling for the brute creation and are willing to do their share toward administering to their wants.   WG




A solid concrete base is being erected at the fountain square in West Main Street, on which the Lewis fountain will be placed this week.  The fountain will rest higher than it was previous to being taken down and horses can hereafter drink at it without being unchecked.   WG



     1910              c.1900, looking west






In all probability the public drinking fountain at the intersection of West Main and Washington streets will remain where it is.  Every citizen should appoint himself a committee of one to “call” the man who persists in driving his team to the watering trough in a way to obstruct traffic.  The police can also help and there will be no cause for complaint.    The Watertown news, August 07, 1918


c. 1919




In the 1920s the monument was removed when cars struck it in the early days of autos; an auto/interurban accident damaged the statue beyond repair.  It was placed in Union Park, near the Milwaukee depot, the troughs having been taken off.  When it was badly damaged by vandalism the city removed it, it was painted, and placed on the Octagon House grounds.



City’s Old Indian Chief to get $30 Overhauling


The city council is going to spend $30 to put Watertown’s “Indian Chief” in repair.  He’s the Indian who has stood guard in Union Park many years, following a disastrous encounter with a street car and an automobile when he camped in West Main Street, at Washington Street, some 15 years ago.


It seems the boys in the region of Union Park have been pegging stones and other objects at the venerable old Red Man and have been able to dent him considerably.  Last night, Alderman R. F. McLaughlin, Third ward, mentioned this fact on the floor of the council and said that the boys tossing the stones have been able to elude the police up to now, but he warned if they are caught it will go hard with them.


He asked that the Indian be put in repair, and the council agreed.  About $30 will be spent fixing him up.


Gift of Lewis


The Indian came into being here in 1896.  At that time he was erected as part of an elaborate fountain and placed at the West Main street intersection.  He was a gift to the city from Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. Lewis, who provided the fountain as a memorial to their son, Clifton Lewis.  They paid a considerable price for the memorial, for fountains of such elaborate type were expensive those days and any city that didn’t have one was looked down upon. There were water troughs for horses, birds and dogs and there were places where humans could drink, too.


Several times the Indian fountain was brightened up with paint and year after year he continued to stand guard.  Then came the modern street car and the tracks were routed around him.  For years after the he watched the yellow cars whiz by.  Automobile traffic also increased, but he stood his ground and remained a sort of landmark on the west side.


Motorist Smacks Him


Then one night a motorist, dashing up the street, found his car heading for the fountain when a street car came along.  Seeking to avoid hitting the fountain, the driver, before he knew it, had his car pinned between the fountain and the street car.  The automobile resembled a folded accordion when they got it out.


The Indian was just about toppled from his perch.  In fact, if memory serves correctly, he was toppled off.  They picked him up in pieces and for more than a year he lay in the old city machine shed.  Then a west side alderman, E. J. Cavenaugh, to be exact, got busy and hit the warpath for the Indian.  He finally got through an appropriation to have the monument and the Indian transplanted to Union Park.  And there he has been on the receiving end of a lot of stones, bricks and other missiles tossed by careless and unthinking boys. 


The council now hopes to fix him up so he may continue to stand guard in his solitary way for many more years.    Aug 06 WDT





     < Bruce Larson & Denny McFarland



09 13       Black Hawk is in the news again.  The famed Indian chief, depicted in the Lewis fountain, a gift to the city at the turn of the century, is in the news again.  Black Hawk for many years has been standing guard in Union Park and now, due to weather, rain, sleet, cold and heat has become greatly deteriorated.  In fact the statue has reached the point where it is considered dangerous and a hazard to children and others in the park.  A plan is underway to move the statue to safer ground, probably on the Octagon House property if the Watertown Historical Society is interested, or else Black Hawk may be shunted to some obscure storage place.




The original statue was damaged beyond repair and so an exact duplicate was ordered from the original manufacturer and placed in Union Park, where it stood for nearly 30 years, suffering damage at the hands of vandals, small children and the elements.  In the early 1960s the City of Watertown decided to remove the statue.  Rather than sell it for scrap, city officials decided the best place for it would be to entrust it to the Watertown Historical Society.  Accordingly, the statue was placed on the grounds near the Octagon House in 1964, where it has remained ever since.



06 06         







Indian figure from Lewis Fountain.  Originally at intersection of W. Main and Washington streets, then Union Park and now on grounds of the Octagon House Museum. 








A statue of a person

Description automatically generated with low confidence          A picture containing text, grass, outdoor, plaque

Description automatically generated





This statue now stands guard on the grounds of

Watertown’s Octagon House,

outside the Gladys Mollart Tour Center.

It is a replica of a fountain in Central Park, New York City.







Cross Reference:

Fountain Bar, 222 W Main, was also at this intersection


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History of Watertown, Wisconsin