1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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    R.I.H.S. Library page

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 William S. Haines Field Survey Books

 Civil engineer, of Providence, R.I.

 Records, 1849-1925. Bulk, 1849-1879.

 Size: 0.75 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 476

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, June 2001

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            William Snell Haines (1816-1887) was born in Lockwood, New York, the son of Jesse P. and Sarah Haines. He began a civil engineering partnership with N.A. Schubarth in Providence in 1849. This partnership was dissolved in 1853, and Haines continued work on his own, until his death from apoplexy in 1887. He never married.

            Haines' early partner, Niles Bierragaard Schubarth (1818-1889), was a Norwegian immigrant who had initially worked as a draftsman on Erie Canal renovations in the early 1840s. From 1844 to 1849, he worked in partnership with Providence civil engineer Stephen Atwater (1816-1855). That firm helped redesign Providence's North Burial Ground, and designed its Swan Point Cemetery and Cove Park. In 1849, Schubarth left Atwater to form Schubarth & Haines. After terminating their partnership in 1853, Schubarth and Haines continued to share an office through 1859. Schubarth continued working through his death in 1889, calling himself a civil engineer, architect or landscape designer. He designed many of Rhode Island's cemeteries.

            Joseph A. Latham (1850-1922) was a later surveyor and civil engineer who bought out Haines' and Schubarth's field survey books and maps, which he boasted of in his advertisements. He lived in Cranston, but his offices were in Providence. He later took his son Arthur J. Latham into partnership as J.A. Latham & Son. The business was continued by Arthur under the same name after Joseph's death in 1922.


Cranston directory, 1924-1925 (Latham death)

Jordy, William H. and Christopher P. Monkhouse. Buildings on Paper: Rhode Island Architectural Drawings 1825-1945, 207-208. Providence: Brown University, 1982.

Providence directories, 1850-1887, 1915 (Latham ad)

Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island, 1258-1259 (Latham)

Rhode Island Cemetery Database

Rhode Island death records, 1887, page 670

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists almost entirely of field survey books. The first three are Schubarth's from the firm of Schubarth & Haines, dating from 1849 to 1851. Fifteen volumes were kept by Haines on his own from 1853 to 1879. These books generally include detailed measurements and sketches of the property boundaries of Haines' clients, who were mostly in Providence and almost exclusively in Rhode Island. Some of the sketches include elevation measurements and notes on grading work.One of Haines' more interesting projects was an 1853 survey of the state prison lot, which appears in book #43, page 47. The lot has since attracted attention as the site of Providence Place Mall. In addition to the survey books, Haines also kept a "Street Book" which includes narrative notes on the legal boundaries of many streets on Providence's East Side. It includes notes made through as late as 1871.

            In addition, one volume was kept by the firm of J.A. Latham & Son from 1906 to 1925. Perhaps the most interesting entries in this volume relate to kindling wood weighed and surveyed by employees of Latham & Son for the Providence Bag Wood Company, which was managed by a recent Armenian immigrant named Mardiros Simonian. The company was located in the heart of one of the city's small Armenian neighborhoods at 397 Fountain Street. The entries begin in 1910, and the name of the manager evolves into "Mr. Simmons" in 1914, suggesting his assimilation. Regular entries of this nature continue through 1915, with one dating from 1921. Otherwise, this volume is very miscellaneous in nature, and is best described by a table of contents:

Contents of J.A. Latham survey book:

Pages 1-84     1906-1907, notes on water works at Gadsden, Alabama.

p.85-90           1910, surveys in Mexico

p.90-110         1910-1915, shipments of wood measured for Mardiros Simoian / Simonian / Simmons of Providence Bag Wood Co. at 397 Fountain St., Providence.

p.112-114       1915, survey of Freeman farm in East Greenwich

p.117-121       1920, survey of unidentified lot in Glocester

p.122-130       Undated survey of lot at corner of Burlington & Hope in Providence

p.132-134       1925, elevations of Diamond Land Co.

p.136-171       Plats and surveys of various Providence lots ca. 1925.

p.172-187       Notes on water system in Gadsden, Alabama, presumably 1906.

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            Some of these volumes were purchased from Rebecca and Mel Rosenbloom in 1961, probably including the nine volumes marked with tags reading "K H-127". The remainder were donated by the Providence Preservation Society in 1978. Both accessions also included similar survey books kept by Walter Dexter (see MSS 385), an apparently unrelated surveyor whose stock may have also been bought out by Latham. Upon the demise of J.A. Latham & Son, their accumulated survey books seem to have been scattered widely, and many more may remain in private hands.

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Processing note:

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Box 1, folder 1. #34 (1849), #38 (1851), #39 (1851), all Schubarth & Haines

Box 1, folder 2. #43 (1853), #47 (1856), Haines on own account

Box 1, folder 3. Loose pages from an 1855 volume

Box 1, folder 4. #50 (1859), #51 (1860)

Box 1, folder 5. #52 (1861), #57 (1865)

Box 1, folder 6. #58 (1866), #59 (1867)

Box 1, folder 7. #60 (1867), #64 (1870)

Box 2, folder 1. #65 (1871), #68 (1873)

Box 2, folder 2. #69 (1874), #72 (1878)

Box 2, folder 3. #73 (1879); "Street Book #1"; J.A. Latham survey book, 1906-1925.

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Alabama - Buildings, structures, etc

Armenian Americans - Rhode Island - Providence

Civil engineering - Rhode Island - Providence

Latham, Arthur J.

Latham, Joseph A. (1850-1922)

Lumber trade - Rhode Island - Providence

Mexico - Buildings, structures, etc.

Providence Bag Wood Company

Providence, R.I. - Buildings, structures, etc.

Rhode Island State Prison

Schubarth, Niles B. (1818-1889)

Schubarth & Haines

Surveyors - Rhode Island - Providence

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