Biography of William H. Heath

A member of an old and prominent Rhode Island family, the late William H. Heath was born in Providence and lived there all his life. At one time associated with his father in the building and contracting business, he later engaged in the machinist’s trade. Throughout his long residence in Rhode Island’s capital he enjoyed a fine reputation for uprightness, probity and public spirit. A veteran of the Civil War, he gave proof of his patriotism by serving with distinction during that conflict in one of the Rhode Island regiments. In every respect he was regarded as one of the substantial and representative citizens of his native State.

Mark A. Heath, father of the subject of this article, was born at Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1819. He was one of the most prominent business men of his time and was especially well known for his success as a contractor and builder and for his active participation in real estate developments. Together with several other gentlemen, he surveyed and opened for development the Elmwood section of Providence, where, as well as in other parts of Providence, he built many fine homes. Of an inventive turn of mind, he perfected many patents, including one for leather piping or trimming for furniture, a cotton bale covering, and a window spring. He was associated in business with the firm of Doyle, Heath & Company, builders. He married Jane Angell Morrison.

William H. Heath, a son of the late Mark A. and Jane Angell (Morrison) Heath, was born and educated in Providence. As a young man he became associated with his father in the latter’s contracting and building business. Later he learned the machinist’s trade, which he followed successfully until he enlisted in the 2d Rhode Island Regiment, during the Civil War. In recognition of his “honorable and meritorious services” Governor A. E. Burnside, the Civil War Governor of Rhode Island, issued to Mr. Heath a testimonial, dated May 7, 1869, which later became one of the most highly prized possessions of Mr. Heath and which is still in the possession of his wife. After the war he resumed his civilian activities in Providence, where he continued to make his home until his death in 1926. He was a member of the George Brown Post, Grand Army of the Republic.

Mr. Heath married Elizabeth A. McLean, a native of Canada. Mr. and Mrs. Heath were the parents of one daughter, Elizabeth Angell Heath. Since her husband’s death Mrs. Heath has continued to make her home in Providence.

William H. Heath died at his home in Providence February 5, 1926. An irreparable loss to his wife and daughter, his death was also deeply regretted by numerous friends, who felt that they had lost in him a loyal and genial companion. Beyond these two circles, in which, of course, he was most intimately known and, therefore, most deeply appreciated, his passing was regretted by many other groups of fellow-citizens, who had recognized his fine qualities of mind and heart. He will long be remembered and more so by those who knew him best.

Source: Carroll, Charles. Rhode Island: Three Centuries of Democracy, vol 3 of 4. New York: Lewis historical Pub. Co., 1932.

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