Franklin H. Dewart Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Franklin H. Dewart Papers consist of 23 folders, three rolls of oversize maps, and one bound manuscript of notes on Vermont town charters. The folders contain 592 Vermont, 10 New Hampshire and 13 New York maps and surveys, digests of chains of title, and engineering designs for various projects.
Many maps are copies that Dewart made between 1894 and 1928 of early local surveys that he had located in town clerks' offices, the papers of eighteenth and nineteenth-century surveyors, and various other locations. The focus of most of these copies is on the boundaries of the original proprietors' rights and the first divisions of property within the towns with some listing individual landowners. The maps are of towns throughout Vermont, but not all towns are represented.
Due to Dewart’s work on court cases and his expertise in determining the history of land ownership, many of the maps contained in the collection are surveys for boundary disputes, water rights, estate divisions, and transfers of title. The focus of these surveys are mainly in towns in the northern half of Vermont with the bulk in Saint Albans, Swanton, and Richford. The dates for these surveys range from about 1890 to 1927.
Other items in the collection span the same 37-year time period and include surveys for the proposed construction and improvement of Vermont highways completed circa 1915, water works and sewer lines, proposed subdivisions, cemetery expansions, and a few mill complexes and / or boundaries. Many maps show adjacent landowners and building footprints with a few providing floorplans.
The Dewart collection also includes an interesting selection of maps from his work along the Connecticut River. There are 23 maps that Dewart made in 1907 – 15 for the project that built the dam and power station at Vernon, Vermont, and an impressive set of six very large maps that he prepared in 1915 – 16 as court exhibits for the Vermont-New Hampshire boundary case.
A very small number of the maps in the collection were completed by other cartographers, most likely business associates or those in Dewart's employ. One map was completed by Donald M. Dewart, a possible relation, 12 years after his death in 1940.
The Vermont town maps in the Dewart Papers are arranged alphabetically by town in 18 map folders (Folders 1 – 8 and Folders 11 – 20). The inventory notes the town, the date and surveyor (if known) of the original survey, the size of the map, the date of Dewart's copying work, and, in many cases, details about what may be found on the map. Maps of more than one town and two New Hampshire surveys are in Folder 9, followed by Dewart's 1907-15 Vernon power station and the 1915-16 boundary case. Maps and surveys completed for individual landowners, court cases, and the state of Vermont can be found in Folders 11 – 20 and are arranged alphabetically by town. The inventory for these maps notes the town, who commissioned the survey, description of details shown, and date the survey or map was completed. Other New Hampshire and all of the New York surveys may be found in Folder 21 with miscellaneous, non-survey work in Folder 22 and four unknown location maps in Folder 23.
The Dewart Papers came to the Wilbur Collection in 1986 as a gift from Craig M. Kneeland and Gail Grismore, who found the maps in an attic in Georgia, Vermont. Researchers using the Dewart collection should be aware of the existence of a small number of additional Dewart maps at the Vermont State Archive, Montpelier, Vermont.
(Note: Some of the Dewart maps have suffered water and biological damage. Condition ranges from fair to excellent.)
- Dewart, Franklin H. (Franklin Henry) (Person)
Collection is open for research.
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.
Franklin Henry Dewart was born February 3, 1861 in Norwood, Ontario, to Reverend James Hartley and Mary (nee Day) Dewart. When Dewart was about 10 years old, his family crossed the border into the United States and settled in Chardon, OH. A highly educated man, he attended attended several prepratory schools in Ontario and Ohio and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1879.
Dewart married Stella Clement in 1880 in Willoughby, OH, and began his career in education that same year as the principal of the Warren, OH, grammar school. He later accepted a position as the superintendant of schools at Hanging Rock, OH, before receiving a life certificate to teach from the state of Ohio in 1885. Additionally, he served as a principal and superintendent in two other Ohio school districts before deciding to return to university studies. He was accepted into Harvard University from which he graduated in 1888 with a degree in math and engineering.
Soon after he received his degree from Harvard, Dewart accepted a position as principal and superintendent of the Saint Albans, Vermont, Academy and later served a term as the president of the Vermont State Teachers Association. In 1894, Dewart left his position at Saint Albans Academy and began his career as a civil engineer. He initially supplemented his income with other teaching positions until about 1903 and later served as the Franklin County Examiner of Teachers from 1904 to 1906.
Dewart participated in engineering projects throughout the state of Vermont and earned a reputation as an expert land surveyor. He was the acting Saint Albans city engineer for one year after his graduation from Harvard and in 1902 accepted the position of the Saint Albans city assessor, which he held for six years. Additionally, he served as a representative in the Vermont State Legislature and as the state engineer for the improvement of the grade and alignment of highways from 1906 to 1908.
Around 1909, Dewart relocated to Burlington while his wife and several of his children remained in Saint Albans. In Burlington he began a business in land surveying, title-searching, and civil engineering. Some of his more well-publicized work came five years later when he served as Vermont’s chief engineer in the surveying of the Connecticut River as part of the legal battle over the Vermont-New Hampshire boundary line.
Dewart’s specialty in finding and interpreting old deeds and in tracing chains of title led him to an appointment by the Vermont secretary of state, Frederick G. Fleetwood, to read and index the state papers of the surveyor general. He spent long hours making accurate modern copies of hundreds of 18th and 19th century local surveys and in studying the work of Vermont’s early surveyors. The result of his work in the Vermont state archives was the publication of the first two volumes of the State Papers of Vermont series, "Index to the Papers of the Surveyors-General" (1918) and "Charters Granted by the State of Vermont" (1922).
In the early 1920s, Dewart married for the second time to Laura A. Barstow, a commercial photographer. The two joined forces and operated a business out of their home at 159 Loomis Street in Burlington with Dewart providing the surveying and civil engineering expertise and his wife providing photographic and copying services for court exhibits, maps, deeds, and other legal papers.
Franklin H. Dewart passed away at the age of 67 on February 23, 1928. Through his life’s work he made an invaluable contribution to the preservation of Vermont’s cartographic history and recordation of late 19th and early 20th century Vermont land development.
6 Linear Feet (152 maps, one bound volume)
Language of Materials
Franklin Henry Dewart was a civil engineer, who participated in engineering projects throughout the state of Vermont and earned a reputation as an expert land surveyor. Dewart’s specialty in finding and interpreting old deeds and in tracing chains of title led him to an appointment by the Vermont secretary of state, Frederick G. Fleetwood, to read and index the state papers of the surveyor general. The collection consist of 23 folders, three rolls of oversize maps, and one bound manuscript of notes on Vermont town charters. The folders contain 592 Vermont, 10 New Hampshire and 13 New York maps and surveys, digests of chains of title, and engineering designs for various projects.
Silver Special Collections, Billings Library; contact email@example.com for access.
- Guide to the Franklin H. Dewart Papers
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