Guide to the Surveyor’s Manual of Robert Lettis Hooper, Jr.Land Surveyor and New Jersey State Legislator 1764 MG 113
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Inventory prepared by Stephen Yautz as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.Finding aid encoded by Danielle Kovacs. February 2004. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.
Robert Lettis Hooper, Jr., was born circa 1730 in New Jersey, the son of Robert Lettis Hooper, Sr., who was Chief Justice of the Colony of New Jersey. His first business venture was a milling business with his brother, Jacob; the partnership was dissolved in 1761. Afterwards, Hooper opened a store in Philadelphia, which fared poorly, and was subsequently forced to close the business. Hooper then made trips west to Fort Pitt, and was contracted for making land surveys and engaged in other projects throughout the region for the colonial government for several years.
Upon his return from the west, Hooper settled in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where he witnessed firsthand the beginning of the American struggle for independence in 1775. He became Deputy Quarter Master General in the Continental Army, and was responsible for the area covering Northampton, Bucks, Berks and Philadelphia counties in Pennsylvania, as well as Sussex County in New Jersey. As Deputy Quarter Master General, Hooper had apparently made enemies; at one point, he was the subject of investigation. He successfully defended the charges, and had the support of General Washington throughout the ordeal.
After his service in the American cause, Hooper became one of the proprietors of the Durham Iron Works, and married Elizabeth Erskine in 1781, the widow of his colleague, Robert Erskine. It was through his wife that Hooper expanded his business holdings, since she had inherited her husband’s share of the Ringwood Iron Works in Ringwood, New Jersey. Hooper also put to use his surveying skills in New Jersey; it was he who laid out the towns of Mine Hill and Bloomsbury.
Hooper’s prominent position as a wealthy businessman and landholder thrust him into New Jersey politics. In 1785, he became a member of the Council in the New Jersey Legislature, serving as its Vice President for three years. In 1787, he was witness to the New Jersey State Legislature’s appointments of David Brearley, Abraham Clark, Jonathan Dayton, William Churchill Houston, William Livingston, and William Paterson to the Constitutional Convention, held in Philadelphia later that year.
He and his wife, Elizabeth, had no children; he died in his home near Trenton, New Jersey, in 1797.
This collection consists of a surveyor’s manual compiled and written in 1764 by Robert Lettis Hooper, Jr., for his land surveying projects in western Pennsylvania. Entitled “The Surveyor’s Assistant,” the work includes mathematical tables, axioms, and formulae for determining area, sines, as well as conversion tables for long measure, square measure and divisors. The result is a reliable aid to surveying land without having to resort to lengthy mathematical calculations. The manual also contains a table of contents for easy reference.
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The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.
For secondary material on Robert Lettis Hooper, Jr., see:
Hart, Charles Henry. Robert Lettis Hooper: Deputy Quarter-Master General in the Continental Army and Vice-President of New Jersey. Philadelphia: Charles Henry Hart, 1912.
Ogden, Mary Depue, ed. Memorial Cyclopedia of New Jersey. Vol. 3. Newark, New Jersey: Memorial History Company, 1917.
For related manuscript collections, see:
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 113, Robert Lettis Hooper, Jr. Surveyor’s Manual, The New Jersey Historical Society.
This collection is the gift of A.D. Woodruff.