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Leon Holland Papers, 1877-1963

Biographical note

Leon Holland, a noted civil engineer and surveyor, was born, raised, and lived most of his adult life in Washington (South) County. He was born in South Kingstown on February 27, 1870, the son of Franklin and Julia Armstrong Holland. Educated in local schools, Holland may have been a self taught surveyor and engineer, as there is no indication from the admittedly scant available evidence that he received professional training or attended college.

After a short sojourn as a teamster in Wellesley, Massachusetts in early 1900, Holland returned to South Kingstown to work as a surveyor and engineer, first for Thomas G. Hazard, then independently. He remained a resident of the community for the rest of his life. On December 26, 1900 he married Mary Elizabeth Rose, a local school teacher and a native of South Kingstown. The Rose Hill area of the town takes its name from that of her family. Once married, the Hollands settled in the Tower Hill area of the community to raise a family and to pursue his career. They had three children, daughters Marion (born July 21, 1902) and Lucile (born October 5, 1907), and son Brandon (born March 31, 1916), the latter of whom died in infancy in early 1917.

Holland quickly established a reputation as a dependable and reputable surveyor and his business continued apace. He rapidly became known as the man "who knew more about South County boundaries than any [other] man alive." Land title companies came to depend upon him as a resource to use in verifying particularly complex land titles in South County. During his long career, he was appointed the official town engineer for the town of Narragansett and similarly served the town of South Kingstown in an unofficial capacity. By the time of his death in 1951, Holland had probably surveyed and mapped most of South Kingstown, Narragansett, and Charlestown. About 500 of his meticulous drawings and maps are preserved in the Leon Holland Papers housed in the Special Collections Department of the University of Rhode Island Library.

Leon Holland died at South County Hospital on February 5, 1951, three weeks short of his eighty first birthday.