Harris, Joseph S. (Joseph Smith), 1836-1910

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Joseph S. Harris was a railroad surveyor and topographer, a land surveyor, an astronomer, and a mathematician, during the period 1853 to 1870. He was employed by the North Pennsylvania Railroad, the Kentucky Geological Survey, the U.S. Coast Survey, and the U.S./Canadian Northwest Boundary Survey prior to the Civil War. During the Civil War he advised Admirals Farragut and Porter, and General Butler for the New Orleans campaign. After the war he was a civil and mining engineer for coal mines and railroads in Pennsylvania, later he became an executive officer for numerous railroads, including the Central Railroad of New Jersey.

From the description of Autobiography of Joseph Smith Harris. 1985. (US Army, Mil Hist Institute). WorldCat record id: 27818183

Joseph Smith Harris (1836-1910): surveyor and civil engineer.

From the description of Joseph Smith Harris papers, 1848-1903. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702126644

Joseph Smith Harris (1836-1910) of Chester County and Philadelphia was a civil engineer, surveyor, and railroad administrator. In 1853, after attending Philadelphia's Central High School, he took a job as a topographer with the Easton and Water Gap Railroad (later the North Pennsylvania Railroad). He then worked for the U.S. Coast Survey from the late 1850s to the early 1860s. In this capacity he worked on the Northwest Boundary Survey, which established the U.S.-Canadian border along the 49th Parallel, and participated in combat operations in Louisiana in 1862. Staring in 1864, he held positions with various railroad companies, rising to become president of the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company. He also became president, in 1893, of the bankrupt Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and led the company's successful reorganization into the new Reading Company.

From the description of Joseph Smith Harris correspondence, 1853-2007 bulk 1856-1863. (Historical Society of Pennsylvania). WorldCat record id: 299171839

Civil engineer and railroad executive.

Joseph S. Harris was born on April 29, 1836, in Chester County, Pa. He began his career as a civil engineer as a member of the engineer corps of the North Pennsylvania Railroad company in 1853-55. Thereafter he worked for the U.S. Coast Survey along the Gulf Coast with furloughs to the Kentucky Geological Survey and the Anglo-American boundary survey in the Oregon Territory.

During the Civil War he served as a topographical engineer on the staff of David G. Farragut. After the war, Harris worked as a civil and mining engineer for several anthracite coal companies in Pennsylvania and for the coal-hauling railroads, notably the Lehigh Coal & Navigation Company and the Philadelphia & Reading Coal & Iron Company. Harris was primarily a railroad executive after 1880, serving as president of the Reading Company from 1893 to 1901. He died at Germantown on June 2, 1910.

From the description of Autobiography [photoprint]. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 164038187

Joseph Smith Harris was a surveyor and civil engineer. During the 1850s-60s he worked on several projects for the federal government including the Northwest Boundary Survey of 1857-61.

Harris was born and raised in Pennsylvania and he attended Philadelphia's Central High school. In 1853 he was appointed a topographer by the North Pennsylvania Rail Road Company. Harris left the private sector in 1854 to become an astronomer for the U.S. government's survey of the Mississippi Sound, and two years later filled a similar position on the Kentucky Geological Survey. He resigned after one month in July 1856 and returned to the Gulf of Mexico to complete his earlier work. The following March, Harris was hired as an astronomer for the Northwest Boundary Survey.

In 1846, Britain and the United States agreed by treaty to draw the western Canadian-American border along the 49th parallel and a joint American-British commission began survey work in 1857. Archibald Campbell served as the American commissioner and Lt. John G. Parke was appointed chief astronomer. Harris and G. Clinton Gardner were assistant astronomers.

When the commission completed its work in 1861, Harris became an officer on the U.S.S. Sachem and served in the Farragut Mississippi Squadron during the Civil War. He went back to railroad work in 1864, joining his older brother Stephen in the Schuylkill Company of Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Harris worked with his brother doing survey work for the Lehigh Valley Rail Road and the Pennsylvania Rail Road Company. During the 1880s he became general manager for the Central Railroad of New Jersey and later served as president of various railroad and mining companies.

In 1865 Harris married Delia Silliman Brodhead and the couple had five children. After the death of his first wife, Harris married Emily Eliza Potts in 1882, and in 1896 married Emily's sister, Anna Zelia Potts. He died at home in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1910.

For additional biographical information, see the Harris family genealogy, prepared by Joseph Harris.

From the guide to the Joseph Smith Harris papers, 1848-1903, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Harris, Joseph S(Joseph Smith), 1836-1910. Joseph Smith Harris papers, 1848-1903. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Harris, Joseph S. (Joseph Smith), 1836-1910. Correspondence with Edgar Fahs Smith, 1899. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Pennsylvania Railroad Grand Division. Office of General Superintendent. Letterbook, 1875-1880. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Joseph Smith Harris papers, 1848-1903 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Smithsonian Institution. Office of the Secretary. Correspondence, 1863-1879 Smithsonian Institution Archives
referencedIn Central Railroad Company of New Jersey. Records, 1839-1973. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Harris, Joseph S. (Joseph Smith), 1836-1910. Autobiography of Joseph Smith Harris. U.S. Army Heritage & Education Center
referencedIn Briefs, 1879-1897 Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn Reading Company. Records, 1795-1979. Hagley Museum & Library
creatorOf Harris, Joseph S. (Joseph Smith), 1836-1910. Joseph Smith Harris correspondence, 1853-2007 bulk 1856-1863. Historical Society of Pennsylvania
referencedIn Frazer family. Papers, 1779-1979 (bulk: 1860-1909) University of Pennsylvania, Archives & Records Center
creatorOf Harris, Joseph S. (Joseph Smith), 1836-1910. Autobiography [photoprint]. Hagley Museum & Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bache, A. D. (Alexander Dallas), 1806-1867. person
associatedWith Baer, George F. (George Frederick), 1842-1914. person
associatedWith Baker, George F. (George Fisher), 1840-1931. person
associatedWith Bethlehem Iron Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Campbell, Archibald, 1813-1887. person
associatedWith Central Railroad Company of New Jersey. corporateBody
associatedWith Central Railroad Company of New Jersey. corporateBody
associatedWith Central Railroad of New Jersey. corporateBody
associatedWith Clark, Edward W., 1828-1904. person
associatedWith Coolidge, William Henry, b. 1859 person
associatedWith Corbin, Austin, 1827-1896. person
associatedWith Depew, Chauncey M. (Chauncey Mitchell), 1834-1928. person
associatedWith Farragut, David Glasgow, 1801-1870. person
associatedWith Frazer family. family
associatedWith Gardner, G. Clinton (George Clinton), 1834-1904. person
associatedWith George Law (Steamship) corporateBody
associatedWith Gowen, Franklin B. (Franklin Benjamin), 1836-1889. person
associatedWith Harris, Delia Silliman Brodhead. person
associatedWith Harris family. family
associatedWith Harris family. family
associatedWith Harris family. family
associatedWith Harris, Stephen, 1834-1874. person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Kentucky Geological Survey. corporateBody
associatedWith Kindred, Charles F., b. 1847. person
associatedWith Lathrop, Francis S., 1806-1882. person
associatedWith Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Lehigh Valley Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Lehigh & Wilkes Barre Coal Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Leisenring, Edward B. (Edward Barnes), 1845-1894. person
associatedWith Little, Henry S. (Henry Stafford), 1823-1904. person
associatedWith McLeod, A. A. (Archibald Angus), 1848-1902. person
associatedWith Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913. person
associatedWith Morris and Essex Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith North Pennsylvania Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Northwest Boundary Commission, 1857-1869. corporateBody
associatedWith Parke, John G. person
associatedWith Parry, Edward Owen. person
associatedWith Parry family. family
associatedWith Pennsylvania Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Pennsylvania Railroad Grand Division. Office of General Superintendent. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia and Reading Railway Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia, Easton and Water Gap Railroad Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Philadelphia & Reading Railroad Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Porter, David D. (David Dixon), 1813-1891. person
associatedWith Porter, Fitz-John, 1822-1901. person
associatedWith Reading Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Roberts, George Brooke, 1833-1897. person
associatedWith Sachem (Ship) corporateBody
associatedWith Sayre, Robert H. (Robert Heysham), 1824-1907. person
associatedWith Temple Iron Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Thomson, Frank, 1841-1899. person
associatedWith Uncas (Ship) corporateBody
associatedWith United States Coast Survey. corporateBody
associatedWith United States Mail Steamship Company. corporateBody
associatedWith U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. corporateBody
associatedWith Voorhees, Theodore, 1847-1916. person
associatedWith Welsh, J. Lowber (John Lowber), 1842-1904. person
associatedWith Wilbur, E. P. (Elisha Packer), 1833-1910. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Northwest, Pacific
Pennsylvania
United States
Pennsylvania
California
Northwest, Pacific
Louisiana
New Orleans (La.)
Victoria (B.C.)
United States
Northwest, Pacific
Northwest, Pacific
Washington (State)
New Orleans (La.)
Canada
Northwest boundary of the United States
Kentucky
Canada
Mississippi Sound
Mississippi Sound
Northwest boundary of the United States.
United States
New Jersey
United States
United States
Subject
Anthracite coal industry
Anthracite Coal Strike, Pa., 1887-1888
Anthracite Coal Strike, Pa., 1900
Brothers and sisters
Chinook Indians
Civil engineering
Civil engineers
Civil engineers
Families
Indians of North America
Indians of North America
Mining engineering
Mining engineers
Northwest boundary of the United States
Railroad engineers
Railroads
Salish Indians
Spouses
Surveying
Surveying
Surveyors
Occupation
Soldiers
Surveyors
Activity

Person

Birth 1836-04-29

Death 1910-06-01

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