W.& L.E.Gurley Surveyors Transit
About the theodolite:
This early A frame standard transit has a 4 inch needle and would have been the smallest size transit that Gurley offered at that time. Standard theodolites were also available with 5 and 6 inch compass needles. An unusual feature of this instrument is that it is not engraved with the Gurley markings.
The compass face is hand engraved and has an SS and #3 stamped under the compass needle rosette. Those initials are those of Seneca Stephens, a Gurley master instrument maker, who started in Gurley’s employ about 1850. This theodolite was made about 1862. Other features indicating its early manufacture are the fact that the tangent lock is found on top of the plate and is not spring loaded. The straight A frame standards also confirm the dating together with the style of the box and the fact that the theodolite base is removable and stored in the box. This theodolite was also optioned with adjustable stadia micrometer.
Dating of the instrument has been through " the Complete Guide to Early W And LE Gurley Transits" by Brian Aregood. The deluxe edition in full colour is the only way to buy this book. The dating of the instrument is also confirmed with the markings under the top plate showing that Seneca A Stepehens was the maker and that the instrument was worked on by Ed Arms in 1865 and by somebody with the monica of "S" in 1887 ( Possibly Seneca Stephens )
The optics are good, but some of the spider web crosshairs have some loose and small strands besides the main crosshairs when sighting the instrument. All of the motions are free and the bubbles with original coloured fluid are good. It has a full circle silvered vertical vernier and the horizontal plate has two viewing windows for the horizontal vernier.
Weight is about 6 kgs.
About the original owner:
Watts T Loomis
From the original labels inside the lid of the box I have been able to trace the original owner back through Ancestry.com and the internet.
The 1880 United States Federal Censis shows that Watts T Loomis was born about 1835 in New York, he was noted as a lawyer at that time and his father’s name was Arphaxed Loomis.
A catalogue of the Officers and Students of Brown University 1854 -55 lists Watts T Loomis , Little Falls NY as an undergraduate of Three Years Standing.
The Herkimer County Archives Authored by Hardin and Willard list:
“Loomis, Watts T is a native of Little Falls. He studied at Brown University, the Albany law School, and with his father was admitted to the bar in 1856. He practiced law and civil engineering for several years, but abandoned engineering when other matters became too pressing. He is a man of culture and refinement and one of the leading men in the County. He has never been an aspirant for political offices other than president of the village. He is and always has been a promoter of the enterprises connected with the improvement of the village in the construction of its mills, churches, bridges, water works, street lighting, the maintenance and care of its public parks and grounds and all of its important improvements. He is president of the Warrior Mower Company, the Superior Furnace Company, and the Electric and Power Company, and the proprietor of several mills. He is a Democrat in politics” He was also appointed mayor of Little Falls in 1874
The Directory of the Town of Little Falls 1869 – 1870 lists Loomis, Watts T as attorney and counsellor at law, notary public, civil engineer and surveyor, at the corner of Main and Second.
This author was pleased that he was able to find so much information on this person of interest with his unusual name and considers himself lucky that he wasn’t trying to research an owner in the name of John Smith
About the new Owner
David H Burrell Jr
After extensive research on the internet it appears that the new owner as shown on the label in the box as David H Burrell jr was in fact the nephew of Watts Loomis. David Burrell snr married Watts' sister, Louisa