Robert H. B. Brazier was an English surveyor who emigrated to the United States in July 1819.
After his arrival in North Carolina, Brazier served as an assistant to Hamilton Fulton, who had been hired as Principal Engineer by the North Carolina Board of Internal Improvements. Brazier received his professional training under John Rennie, the Scottish Civil Engineer who is remembered as the designer of several bridges, including London Bridge, the Plymouth Breakwater and the London and East India docks.
There were those in the Legislature were opposed to any program of tax supported internal improvements. These were mostly Easterners, who attempted to manipulate the program to obtain major benefits to the Eastern region. These efforts were opposed by those from the Central and Western parts of the State. With this political infighting the continued existence of the Board of Internal Improvements itself was in doubt. Brazier applied to the State of Virginia for the post of Principal Engineer to the State of Virginia, which post had recently become vacant. He was endorsed for the position by Governor Gabriel Holmes, William Nichols, Architect, and William Ruffin, but was unsuccessful and continued at his post in North Carolina.
From 1820 through 1823, Brazier completed surveys and drew maps, plans, profiles and sections of the principal water courses in the State from the Yadkin to Roanoke Inlet. Late in 1823, he became involved with a dispute with the Board of Internal Improvements regarding his account of expenses. Brazier resigned, effective February 19, 1823 and wrote the Board what they characterized as a “disrespectful” letter, demanding settlement of his account. The requested settlement not forthcoming, Brazier entered suit against the State. The Wake County Superior Court found for Brazier and he was awarded damages in 1825.
For several years, Brazier worked privately, making a handsome map of Fayetteville, making patent drawings and surveying. Among his surveys during that time was the “Buncombe Turnpike” from Greenville, South Carolina to Greeneville, Tennessee which was actually funded and completed by the State in 1827.
In early 1827, Brazier contracted with the Board of Internal Improvement to survey swamp lands in Eastern North Carolina. His report was presented to the General Assembly in the late fall of 1827.
Following this sruvey his work during this period was the surveying a route from Raleigh to Cobb’s Mill (now Wiggin’s Mill on Contentnea Creek at US 117 in Wilson Co.?) and laying out the Town of Rolesville.
In 1826, John McRae of Fayetteville convinced the General Assembly to fund a new map of the State. McRae first attempted to secure the services of one W. H. Hanford of the Corps of Engineers, but this did not avail, and McRae turned to Brazier. By July, 1831, he had completed most of his surveys and the drawing was ready for the engraver in 1832.
In 1831, the post of Principal Engineer in Virginia again became vacant. Brazier again applied for the position and was endorsed by the Governor, Montfort Stokes, Senator James Iredell, Jr., state Attorney General Romulus M. Saunders and others, attesting to his skill as a surveyor and expressing the opinion that “as a Draughtsman, it is believed that (Brazier) has no superior in the Country.” This application again failed of success, but he was employed for various surveys in southeastern Virginia.