County Vermont (Introduction to the 1983
McClellan’s Map of Windham
An Historical Sketch of the Map
a short period of time in the decade preceding the Civil
War, an extraordinary series of detailed county maps was
produced, which recorded the names and locations of homes
and businesses throughout the Northeastern United States. In
1856, early in this period of county mapmaking,
McClellan’s Map of Windham County, Vermont was
published. This was the first comprehensive map of Windham
is known about the Philadelphian firm of C. McClellan & Co.
(the producers of the map). Of the hundreds of county maps
produced in the 1850s, the name C. McClellan appears on only
this one. In contrast, the name of the surveyor, J. Chace,
Jr., is associated with at least eighteen other county maps
in the period 1854—1860. Chace was surveyor for maps of
Rutland, Windsor and Windham counties in Vermont, as well as
for county maps in Maine, New York and New Hampshire. Like
many of the map publishers, Chace was based in Philadelphia,
although the Wind-ham County map lists his address as Troy,
of the survey methods used and of the sales techniques have
been hard to find. Based on research done into other county
maps, however, it is possible to speculate with some
confidence. Surveyor Chace traveled the roads of Windham
County, carrying notebooks and measuring devices. He used a
wheeled odometer, probably horse-drawn, to measure
populated areas he may have used a hand propelled odometer
similar to the one pictured here. He used a compass to
determine the bearings of roads and the locations of hills
and other geographic features. As he recorded the
cartographic data, the surveyor would also note the
locations of the principal buildings, and, more importantly,
the names of the owners. This was the point of printing the
map, a new map which, for the first time, would record the
locations of all the cultural sites in the county, with the
owner’s name beside each. As he noted the homeowner’s name,
Chace, who was probably as much salesman as geographer,
would explain the significance of the new map, and invite an
advance order for it. The map was probably available only by
advance subscription. The price was about five dollars, a
substantial sum in the 1850s.
the field work for the map was done, Chace prepared a draft
which was no doubt shown around Brattleboro as he, or
perhaps a sales agent, attempted to sell advertising space.
Mapmakers increased their revenue by adding engraved views
of local businesses—for a fee—to the margins of their maps.
The price might be as high as fifty dollars per view. Note
that four of the seven views on the Windham County map are
of Brattleboro businesses: a melodeon factory, a furniture
factory, and Brattleboro’s two water cure establishments.
The advertising has long outlived the businesses, none of
which exist today.
Drawings, or perhaps photographs of the buildings were
prepared and sent to Philadelphia along with the draft map.
In Philadelphia, the map’s designers assembled the various
parts into a composite map, added a decorative border and
engraved the whole onto large stone printing plates. The map
was printed on four separate sheets which were then fitted
and glued to a canvas backing. Each map was then hand
colored. Different hues were applied to each town; slightly
darker shades defined the town lines. The finished maps were
varnished and mounted on wooden rollers.
original Windham County map is not commonly seen today,
which suggests that only a few may have been printed. It is
among the rarest of the Vermont county maps. Its scarcity
may be due to a poor sales effort by the map’s publishers.
Searches in old newspapers have failed to uncover
advertisements for the map of the sort used in nearby
Cheshire County, New Hampshire, where a similar—and more
commonly seen—map was produced in 1858.
features of the Windham County map suggest the relative
inexperience of its publishers. The large lettering gives
certain areas of the map a cluttered appearance. In places
names are hard to read, due both to the handwriting of the
engraver, and to flaws in the actual printing. Additionally,
the map’s accuracy in some instances is questionable. Road
layouts, for example, are in many areas only generally
Variations in name spelling attract special attention. Some
are clearly wrong, like “Birce Street” (Birge Street) in
Brattleboro and “B.S. Paulding” (B. Spaulding) in
Londonderry. Errors like these probably crept into the map
when the Philadelphia engravers interpreted the surveyor’s
notes. Other odd spellings are less easily explained. Do the
entries “Parkkus” in Townshend and “Edwads” in Wardsboro
reflect misengravings? Or do they perhaps give us clues as
to how some names were pronounced in 1856? We don’t know
whether the surveyor actually checked the spelling of each
property owner’s name, or whether he simply wrote down what
he heard. Throughout the map can be seen different spellings
of nearly identical names, A good example of this is seen on
the maps of Brattleboro and Guilford. There, within a few
miles of each other, are seen the family names “Akley,”
“Acley” and “Ackley.” Is this variance due to mapmaker
error, or did these neighboring, and possibly related
families actually spell their names three different ways?
publication of McClellan’s Map of Windham County in a
convenient atlas form should encourage the use and study of
this pioneer document of Windham County history. Answers to
the questions raised by this map may become evident with
time and further study. Comments by readers on the map’s
accuracy and insights into how this important old document
was prepared are welcomed by the publisher.
County, New Hampshire (Introduction to the 1982
Map of Hillsboro County, NH
An Historical Sketch of The Map
The Map of Hillsboro County,
1858 is a singular historical document. The result of
the most comprehensive survey yet made of these towns, the
map pinpoints the names and locations of every residence,
workplace, church and school. The geographic features which
give our region its charm and character are carefully
displayed. The map, like later gazetteers, presents
important demographic data: population and agricultural
statistics, and substantial city directories. The
birthplaces of prominent Americans—Franklin Pierce and
Horace Greeley among others— are given special treatment.
publishers, Smith, Mason & Co. of Philadelphia, published
similar maps of other New Hampshire counties. Publication
was announced in local newspapers during the winter of
1856-57. Offices were set up in Manchester and Nashua where
prospective customers could view preliminary plans for the
work. Advance orders were taken for the map, at five dollars
per copy. Prominent citizens allowed their names to be used
in the map’s advertisements, testifying to the merits of the
map, and no doubt assuring it of financial success.
map was printed on four separate sheets (probably on large
stone printing plates) and assembled and glued together onto
a cloth backing. Each copy was then hand-colored in several
different hues, varnished, and mounted on wooden rollers.
The large size—five feet on an edge—has often proved an
impediment to display. Copies have commonly been consigned
to storage, usually in attics, where they have suffered the
adverse effects of heat and leaky roofs. Originals in good
condition today are rare items.
and plans made prior to the 1850s were simple affairs,
usually commissioned by government, showing only political
boundaries, major roadways, and an occasional mill or
tavern. With few exceptions (Nashua, Milford and
Manchester), no detailed town maps preceded the 1858 map.
Thus it becomes the first “road map” for most of the
Hillsborough County towns.
were measured with a wheel odometer, similar to the
wheelbarrow-like device pictured here. Some odometers may
have been drawn by horse and buggy. The surveyor would ask
the names of farmstead owners as he passed by, and would
surely add a brief sales pitch for the new map, after all,
the map would carry the name of the resident engraved upon
questionable whether surveyor J. Chace, Jr. personally
measured all these roads. Perambulating them all would have
required many months. As Chace is surveyor of record for no
fewer than 21 different county maps during the period
1854-1860, it is likely that assistants did most of
the hard work. The original road surveys for this
privately-produced map were the most comprehensive yet made;
this map served as the basis for later maps until the end of
Hillsboro County: Differences among Several
States of the Map
preparing the Map of Hillsboro County for
reproduction last year I noticed that there are differences
among the several copies of the original wall maps which I
At this point I have been able to identify 2 different
editions of the map, and have identified a single variant
map which was probably the publisher’s proof copy.
The two editions are distinguished by the
arrangement of the maps elements. Some of the maps are
oriented to magnetic north (the first edition) while others,
more numerous in my research, are oriented to true north.
The magnetic north maps have the cartouche at the top center
of the map, slightly to the left. On the true north
copies the entire county section is pivoted to the left
(counterclockwise), and the cartouche is placed in the upper
right. The village inset maps are arranged in entirely
different locations (?). NEED PHOTO.
I found several magnetic north (“original”)
editions in a finished state: the maps were assembled onto
cloth backing, varnished, and mounted onto wooden rollers.
This was the conventional finished format. The copies
I examined were owned by private individuals.
But interestingly, there is a single
magnetic north copy in the library of the New Hampshire
Historical Society which is quite different than the other
magnetic north copies – many sites have different names.
This copy, unlike the others observed, is unvarnished, and
was never assembled and mounted. The NHHS copy is 4 pieces
of paper, nicely printed, with coloring only on the town
My comparison of the maps was not
comprehensive, but I did notice several dozen differences.
On the Brookline village map the NHHS map shows a “W.
Gilson” on the right side of a road; the more finished maps
label this site “Gilson & French”. The Mont Vernon
finished maps show a “Ruby Hill” while no such feature
appears on the NHHS copy. There are at least 6 amendments to
the map of Amherst village.
These differences strongly suggest that the
NHHS copy might be a proof copy which was brought to New
Hampshire for marketing and accuracy-checking purposes.
Advertisements which ran in local newspapers in February of
stated that some
drafts of the map were already in existence (they had been
shown to prominent citizens who gave testimonials in the ad)
and that more finished prints (?) would soon be available
for “…examining the work before its final compilation, in
order to make it entirely satisfactory as to accuracy, &
etc.” The changes manifested on the
varnished maps no doubt reflect corrections and amendments
suggested by the public. The entries on the varnished and
mounted maps are clearly changes (in some cases faint
lettering of the proceeding entry can be discerned in the
later editions). My cursory examination indicates that most
of the changes are in the populated areas. This corresponds
with the record left in advertisements by the publishers.
They went to the larger towns to sell their maps, and would
presumably have gotten the most corrections from those
areas. Residents of outlying towns may not have had an
opportunity to examine the demonstration maps. If that is
so, then errors may be more likely in those towns if we
assume that errors would be randomly spread throughout the
D. Allen 1983