1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Title Guarantee Company of Rhode

 Island Records

 Land title insurance company, Providence, R.I.

 Records, c.1880-1960

 Size: 68 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 174

 Processed by: Rufus Lund, February 1994

 Expanded by Rick Stattler, August 1998

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Title Guarantee Company of Rhode Island was formed in 1902. Three title searchers (probate judge Joseph E. Spink, attorney James Tillinghast, and conveyancer Gustavus A. Williamson) brought their skills and records into the company.

            Title insurance is a contract insuring the policy holder and property buyer against damage from any defects or encumbrances not reported in the policy. As the basis of the policy, a conveyancer or title searcher creates a title abstract of the deeds making up a chain of title, by searching the record office of the town or city in which the property is located.

            The 1907 Providence City Directory names William L. Hodgman as President, and Tillinghast and Spink as General Counsel. Evidence of the banking community's interest in title insurance is revealed in the list of directors: Samuel P. Colt of Industrial Trust Co., Hodgman, Robert Knight of People's Savings Bank, John S. Palmer of City Savings Bank, Marsden J. Perry of Union Trust Co., Gilbert A. Phillips of Providence Institution for Savings, Edwin A. Smith of Mechanics Savings Bank, J. Edward Studley of Manufacturers Trust Co., Robert L. Walker of Title Guarantee Co., and Herbert J. Wells of R.I. Hospital Trust Co. Company stock was held by a voting trust controlled by the five major Providence Banks and commonly voted by the president of the Corporation.  

            Before its 1970 merger with Commonwealth Land Title, the Title Guarantee Company of R.I. had five presidents: William L. Hodgman, 1902?-35, Ivory Littlefield, 1936-54, Charles J. Hill, 1955-65, Daniel J. Higgins, 1966-74. Presidents of the Title Guarantee of Rhode Island Division of Commonwealth were Higgins, John Steere, 1974-78, and Fred Clark, 1978-89. Sally O'Neel is currently Branch Manager and Vice President. The corporate records were transferred to Philadelphia in 1970.


Conversation with Fred Clark, Nov. 1993

Clark, Fred. "Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company", in Greater Providence: Fulfilling its Destiny, Ann L. Dunnington, ed. (Chatsworth, Cal: Windsor Publications, 1990), 194-195.

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Scope and content:

            The heart of this collection is the "Locality Plant", a massive file that attempted to abstract every instrument from City of Providence land records. The abstracts are accessed through a series of key maps that give block numbers for every lot in Providence. The deed and mortgage abstracts for each block number are clasped together in packets, and usually give a complete title history from about 1850 to 1910.

            Other records include the corporate charter; board and executive committee minutes; photographs; title abstracts and memo books of Joseph E. Spink to 1910, of James Tillinghast to 1914, and of Frank A. Williamson to 1929; an incomplete set of indexes to abstracts, and miscellaneous plats.

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            These records were a gift of Commonwealth Land Title Company's Title Guarantee Company of Rhode Island Division upon their move from their 66 So. Main St. office to Smithfield in 1998. Two additional boxes were donated in 1998.

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Processing note:

            The records were accepted by the RIHS with the view that the "Locality Plant" would provide a resource to researchers of 19th century Providence land and house ownership.

            The Rheems Mfg. and Quonset Point United States Navy memos and abstracts compliment MSS 117, Quonset Point Davisville Papers, 1939-46 concerning the construction and expansion of the Navy Base.

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Box. Folder

1.1                   Stockholders' Meeting (R.I. Title Guarantee Loan & Trust

                                     Co.), 1897-1903

 .2                     Charter and Amendments, 1895-1902

 .3                     Assignment of Shareholders' Interests, 1902

 .4                     By-Laws, 1902

 .5                     Directors' Meeting Minutes, 1902-42

 .6                     Tillinghast Correspondence for the First Policies of the Company (filed with Directors' Minutes), 1904-04

 .7-11               Executive Committee Minutes, 1902-70

 .12                   Inventory of Microfilmed Policies, 1942-43, 1951, 1971

 .13                   Plant Department Annual Reports, 1920-39

 .14-15             Legal Forms of Mortgages, Deeds, Misc.

 .16                   Tillinghast & Spinks Transfer Book - Index to Merged Abstracts

.17                   Spink List of Abstracts 1-3346

.18                   Spink List of Warwick Abstracts SWk 1-92

2.1                   Index to North Providence, Old and New Town of Pawtucket

 .2                     Index to North Providence and Pawtucket Titles

 .3                     Index to East Providence Titles

 .4                     Index to Johnston, Warwick, Warren, Portsmouth Titles

 .5                     Spink Index to Barrington, Bristol, Cranston

 .6                     J.W. Lewis Index to Title Books

 .7                     Tillinghast Memo Book Providence New Market Association

 .8                     Memo Book Wanton Farm, Cranston Etc.

 .9                     J.E. Spink Memo Book 75 Esek Esten Farm, Harris

 .10                   J.E. Spink Memo Book Jeremiah Dexter Farm

 .11                   J.E. Spink Memo Book Certain Jamestown Titles, 1893

 .12                   F.A. Williamson Name Index to Memo Books

 .13                   F.A. Williamson List of Memos 1-246

 .14                   F.A. Williamson Memo Book James Pettey Land

 .15                   F.A. Williamson Memo Book Rutenberg Plat

 .16                   F.A. Williamson Memo Book Brown Family

 .17-18             F.A. Williamson Memo Book Joseph Randall Family

 .19                   F.A. Williamson Memo Book Waterman Family

3.1                   F.A. Williamson Memo Book Union Plats 1-2-3, 1888

 .2                     F.A. Williamson Memo Book Wm. Snow Family

 .3                     Memo Book Work in Warren, R.I., 1929

 .4                     Memo Book No. 285 West Warwick

 .5                     Memo Book C.J. Barnes Plat (Conveyancer David L. Barnes)

 .6                     Frederick Hayes Title Book No. 2

 .7                     Briefs Herbert Almy

 .8                     City of Providence Plats 1-24 Photographs

 .9                     Abstracts T-537 to T-3037 [Dexter Donation?]

 .10                   Abstracts 698 to 796, 3033-8131

 .11                   Abstracts S8008 to S-8178

 .12                   Abstract 37482

 .13                   Index - Cross Reference Policy Number to Abstract Number

4.1                   Policy Log Book A-1 to A-12183, 1944-46

 .2                     Policy Log Book A-12184 to A-29686, 1947-50

 .3                     Policy Log Book 26687 to 46630, 1951-55

 .4                     Tax Title Index - Cranston

 .5                     "Location by Streets" - Pawtucket

 .6                     Rolodex 75xxx to 83xxx, 1960s [?]

5.0                   Photographs (flat box)

6.0                   Providence and Environs Atlas (flat box)


Cabinets        "Locality Plant" (93 drawers of deed histories arranged by numbered blocks, with key maps (wooden file cabinets 120" x 56" x 18")

Vol. 1-2          Index and Digest of J.E. Spink Abstracts (stored adjacent to Locality Plant)

7.0                   Spink Title Abstracts S-2 to S-586

8.0                   Spink Abstracts S-590 to S-1285

9.0                   Spink Abstracts S-1286 to S-2162

10.0                 Spink Abstracts S-2168 to S-3393, S-5000 to S-5100

11.0                 Spink Abstracts S-5100 to S-5372, S-6000 to S-6314, S-8003 to S-8017

12.0                 Spink Abstracts S-8020 to S-8205, Flat or Unfolded Abstracts S-55A to S-8044

13.0                 Spink Abstracts Southern New England SNE-1 to SNE-498,

                                    Warwick SWk-1 to SWk-92

14.0                 Tillinghast Abstracts T-1 to T-1103

15.0                 Tillinghast Abstracts T-1105 to T-2100

16.0                 Tillinghast Abstracts T-2101 to T-2997


17.0                 Tillinghast Abstracts T-3001 to T-3897

18.0                 Tillinghast Abstracts T-3900 to T-4592 and

                        F.A. Williamson Abstracts W-1 to W-25

19.0                 Williamson Abstracts W-26 to W-49, W-230 to W-295

20.0                 Williamson Abstracts W-296 to W-399

21.0                 Williamson Abstracts W-400 to W-465

22.1                 Quonset Point USN Map

  .2                    Memo 17485 Quonset Point [Reynolds] Arthur Henius

  .3                    Memo 19592 Quonset Point Aslaug N. Marks

  .4                    Memo 35857 Quonset Point Howard V. Allen et al

  .5                    Documents from H. V. Allen filed 3/9/46

  .6                    Memo 42565 Arthur H. Carr

  .7                    Memo 42871 A,B,C State of Rhode Island

  .8                    Memo 43709 George P. Clark

  .9                    Memo 48428 William H. Lister

  .10-12            Memo 51250 Howard V. Allen and George R. Hansford

  .13-14            Memo 51250 Seavey Tract Abstracts

  .15                  Memo 51251 Quonset Point 2nd Taking Master Abstract, Furnished to Dept. of Justice

  .16-18            Memo 52251 Original Work of Examiner Parcels 1-60

  .19-20            Memo 51252 2nd Taking Quonset Point, Willow Point

23.1                 Memo 51831 Corey Davisville Tract

  .2                    Memo 51957 Quonset Point No. 102

  .3                    Memo 51958 Carl Colliander

  .4                    Memo 51959 Herbert Dean

  .5                    Memo 52301 William F. Allen Estate

  .6                    Memo 52302 Eva Andrews

  .7                    Memo 52720 Rheems Mfg. Master Plats Property in Providence and Cranston, R.I. to be acquired by the U.S. Maritime Commission (Waterman Engineering Company)

  .8-14  Memos 52722-52785 Rheems Mfg. Parcels 4-106

  .15                  Memos 52786-52791 Rheems Mfg.

  .16-17            Memos 70911, 76119 Charlestown Post Road

24.0                 Letterhead Type Blocks

25.0                 Spink abstract books #1 - #73

These abstracts were prepared circa 1902-1910. Each volume traces the title history of one plat. In most volumes, a tracing of an early plat map is inserted in the front. Most of the abstracts begin circa 1850. The majority are from the cities of Cranston and Providence, and there seems to be an emphasis on the border area between the two. There are also a few volumes from East Providence, North Providence and Pawtucket. Volumes 38 and 60 are missing. Volume 61 was found to be entirely blank and was discarded.

26.0                 Office correspondence, 1954-1959.

Includes folders on the following specific projects:

                                    Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, 1954

                                    Army Engineers / Quonset Point, 1954

                                    Providence Redevelopment Agency, 1954-1959

                                    "North-South Freeway", 1954-1955 (Route I-95)

                                    Fairlawn, 1959

                                    Intelex Systems, 1959

                                    Oxford Street Playground, Providence, 1959

                                    Smith Hill Project, 1959

                                    Weeden Farms, 1957

The remainder of these files provide little insight into specific policies or title histories, but document the routine operation of the organization.

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Commonwealth Land Title Company

Hodgman, William L.

Insurance, Title - Rhode Island

Providence, R.I. - Land records

Providence Redevelopment Agency

Quonset Point, R.I.

Spink, Joseph E. (1842-1910) (obit Providence Journal 4/20/1910)

Tillinghast, James, (1828?-1914) (obit 1/4/1914)

Title companies - Rhode Island

Williamson, Gustavus A. (1825?-1911) (death notice 10/24/1911)

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