Sunday, July 5, 2009

Map: Hampshire County, Massachusetts, 1854

Looking at this map of Hampshire County circa 1854, one can't help but be impressed by the amount of labor of lithography and love that went into its cartographical creation. A treat to the eyes as well as the mind, the map represents a pairing of the artist's flowing hand with the surveyor's cold, honest line of fact: Homesteaders' names secured in bold town borders back-filled with pleasing yesterday colors. For a brief moment in time, all were accounted for in Hampshire County.

Map of

From Actual Surveys By Wm. J. Barker

Published By

James D. Scott & Owen McCleran
116 Chestnut Street

E. Herrlein's Lith. 116 Chestnut St. Phila.

Just for comparison's sake with the above list from 1854, here are Hampshire County town populations from the 2007 U. S. Census estimates, with the changes in population between the recorded years noted in parentheses:

Amherst: 34,275 (+31,298)

Belchertown: 13,971 (+11,310)

Chesterfield: 1,273 (+259)

Cummington: 974 (-190)

Easthampton: 16,064 (+14,724)

Enfield: 0* (-1,034)

Goshen: 956 (+444)

Greenwich: 0* (-1,104)

Granby: 6,285 (+5,447)

Hadley: 4,787 (+2,818)

Hatfield: 3,258 (+2,200)

Middlefield: 551 (-185)

Northampton: 28,411 (+23,291)

Norwich (Huntington): 2,193 (+1,443)

Pelham: 1,404 (+421)

Plainfield: 600 (-212)

Prescott: 0* (-737)

Southampton: 5,962 (+4,902)

South Hadley: 16,952 (+14,173)

Ware: 9,933 (+6,151)

Westhampton: 1,586 (+987)

Williamsburg: 2,440 (+903)

Worthington: 1.272 (+151)

Here's a link to a handy Boston Globe article at, "Census Releases 2007 Massachusetts Population Figures", a list of the Bay State's 351 towns and their populations in 2000, 2006 and 2007.

*Enfield, Greenwich, Prescott and the Worcester County town of Dana were all dismantled to make way for Quabbin Reservoir and were officially disincorporated on April 28, 1938.

Something seems a bit odd with a few of the figures in the above list. There are 235 teachers to 7,671 public school students, which seems to be a pretty reasonable ratio for the times, 1 teacher for every 33 students. What is strange is the number of public schools, meaning the buildings themselves: 218. This means that just about every teacher had their own little schoolhouse with a few dozen students way back in mid-19th century Hampshire County. Kind of cool, such snug local learning. Then again, consider the 8,885 polls listed for the county. That's one polling place for every four residents, going by total population (35,257). Talk about elbow room! Perchance a misprint?

Okay, let's do a little more numbers jumping between centuries. Here are some figures for Hampshire County from the 2007 Census of Agriculture from the USDA, followed by value changes in the intervening 153 years since the above "Agricultural Products" statistics were printed on the Hampshire County map in 1854:

Land in Farms: 52,756 acres (-245,446 acres, per total of both improved and unimproved land in 1854)

Horses: 1,495 (-2,487)

Cattle: 5,242 (-25,738, per 1854 total of milk cows, oxen and other cattle combined)

Sheep: 1,658 (-31,179)

Swine: 1,918 (-4,807)

For a bigger picture of the farming status of Hampshire County today, check out the 2007 Census of Agriculture County Profile PDF:

One has to wonder about the placement of the abbreviation for "Catholic Church" on this map legend. Was it an oversight on the copywriter's part, forgotten to be tucked in above with the other congregations and added hastily at the end of the list rather than going through the trouble of a rewrite? Or was it a reflection of the Catholic faith's status in 19th century Hampshire County? An intended inflection of the pecking order of Atlas importance, falling in behind the cemetery and saw mill, the blacksmith and the postmaster? It would be nice to conclude for the former, but events in neighboring Hampden County's town of Westfield in the hot summer of 1854 bear witness to the possibility of the latter being closer to the truth.

From about 1825 Westfield had seen a large influx of Irish-Catholic immigrants who had come to the area to build the Hampshire and Hampden Canal and then the railroads, and many long-time residents resented their presence. Under 1854's July sun, the rising - brick by brick, board by board - of Westfield's first Roman-Catholic House of Worship on the corner of Mechanic and Bartlett Streets (now St. Mary's) brought tensions to a fine pitch, finally drawing a bristling and angry crowd to the site, ready to burn the growing church to the ground. Were it not for the persuasive words of Hiram Hull, a Protestant and well-respected man in town, the church may have been destroyed that day. As it turned out, after almost thirty years of worshiping in homes and rented buildings and even outdoors, the first Mass was celebrated in the new church five months later, in December, 1854.

The proliferation of professors, doctors and Dickinsons (Emily included) crowded into 1854 Amherst - along with the presence of Amherst College - undoubtedly establishes that town as the intellectual center of Hampshire County for the time. A visit to the poet's home, now the Emily Dickinson Museum, on Main Street in Amherst will take you back there. Here's the museum's web address:

Belchertown center's layout hasn't changed much since 1854. Notable on the map are the carriage manufacturers clustered around the common area. Belchertown carriage-makers were considered to be in the top tier for quality in their trade. In his book, the History of Western Massachusetts (1855), historian Josiah Gilbert Holland identifies four carriage and sleigh manufacturers located in Belchertown, employing a total of 132 workers and producing over 1,000 carriages and sleighs annually. Holland reports that annual earnings from carriage manufacturing reached nearly $100,000 for all four companies combined. Industry competition led to the decline of Belchertown carriage-makers financial foundation and within a couple of decades of the publication of Holland's work, carriage production was no longer a prominent concern in Belchertown.

Belchertown's official web site has a great historical summary of the town (including more on carriage manufacturing), which, according to the page was "originally written in 1960 by Kenneth A. Dorey and revised in 2005 by Shirley Bock, Doris Dickinson and Dan Fitzpatrick." Great job, folks. Here's the link:

And a link to Holland's History of Western Massachusetts at Google Books:

The Western Railroad cleaves a prominent arc through Chester Village in this detail of the small hamlet nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires. Construction of the rail line between Springfield and Chester was completed in 1841, the first freight hauled between the tiny village and the bustling city on May 24th of that year.

Amherst wasn't the only Hampshire County town to lay claim to the roots of a great American wordsmith in the 19th century. Poet William Cullen Bryant was born in Cummington on November 3, 1794 and died in New York on June 12, 1878. Today, the Bryant Homestead in Cummington is maintained and operated by the Trustees of Reservations and is an excellent piece of Western Massachusetts literary history to have the opportunity to explore. Here is a link to the Homestead's web site:

And here's a web site with a brief biography and some of Bryant's poems:

Easthampton was enjoying an explosive era of growth and prosperity around the time this map was drawn. Samuel Williston was instrumental as a driving force behind this forward movement, opening Williston Seminary in 1841 and then, six years later, relocating his button-manufacturing operations from Williamsburg to Easthampton as the Williston, Knight & Company. One year after that, in 1848, Williston opened the Nashawannuck Manufacturing Company (next door to the button plant), whose business it was to make suspenders. From 1840 to 1850, Easthampton's total property value increased four-fold. The population took a dramatic turn upward as well, with a nearly 90% increase in souls living within the town borders between those same years. And the expansion was only beginning. As more factories opened, and Easthampton became renowned for its elastic thread mills, the town continued to grow exponentially. Easthampton's population in 1854 was 1,340, by 1870 it had more than doubled, to 3,620.

Enfield was one of four Swift River Valley towns and several villages that were disincorporated and dismantled to make way for Quabbin Reservoir, a major component in the fresh water supply system for the Eastern part of the state, including Boston and the surrounding metro area. Enfield began its existence in June, 1787, and was originally known as the South Parish of Greenwich. It officially became Enfield about three decades later, on February 18, 1816, ultimately being cobbled out of parts of Greenwich, Belchertown and Ware. The last town meeting was held in Enfield, Massachusetts, in the Enfield Town Hall, on April 8, 1938. Twenty days later, on April 28, 1938, per Chapter 240 of the Acts and Resolves of April 26, 1938, passed earlier by the Massachusetts General Court, and signed into law by Governor Charles F. Hurley, Enfield was gone from the map.

For more on Enfield, check out these EWM posts:

Postcards From a Lost Town: Enfield, Massachusetts

Quabbin History: Enfield's Last Town Meeting, April 28, 1938

And for lots more on Quabbin Reservoir, take a look at EWM's The Quabbin Page

When I first found this map at the Library of Congress Map Collections, I was excited because of the details of the Swift River Valley towns of Enfield and Greenwich, both erased from existence for seven decades now. Then I looked at this detail of Florence and I saw the name S. J. Truth. Sojourner Truth, the freed New York slave who devoted her freedom to advancing the rights and freedom of others, especially women, working in partnership with a God she graced with her faith. Truth lived on Park Street in Florence from 1846 to 1857, when she moved to Michigan. Truth's 1851 "Ain't I A Woman?" speech may be her most memorable. There is a memorial site, with a fine statue of Sojourner Truth located on the corner of Park and Pine Streets in Florence.

Here's a link to the memorial's excellent and informative web site:

And to the text of "Ain't I A Woman?":

The town of Hadley reached an important milestone this year. Settled in 1659, 2009 marks 350 years of perseverance and prosperity for this New England gem along the Connecticut river. Events organized by the Hadley 350th Committee and volunteers are being held throughout the year to celebrate this auspicious anniversary, including a decorating contest, nature walks, plays, polka and feasts of fresh farm produce. The ambitious and interesting calendar of activities offered presents opportunities for everyone to participate and lots of close-to-home options for summer fun. Happy Birthday, Hadley!

For more information, check out the Hadley 35oth web site:

And here's a great new blog focusing on Hadley:

Save Hadley!

Hatfield's Main Street, with its well-appointed homes and welcoming charm, is one of the most beautiful scenic rural thoroughfares in Western Massachusetts. Founded in 1670 on land settled in 1660 as part of Hadley, Hatfield folks have managed to maintain small town values rooted in a love for the land and a sense of community that is laced through centuries.

For more on Hatfield, visit the town's web site:

And here are a couple of links to previous EWM posts with photographs of the devastation Hatfield experienced as a result of the Great Flood of 1936:

The Great Flood of 1936: Hatfield House and Barns

The Great Flood of 1936: Hatfield Tobacco Fields

On May 16, 1874, two decades after this map was published, the village of Haydenville, in southern Williamsburg, was decimated by a flood caused by the failure of the Williamsburg reservoir dam on the Mill River. The reservoir was used to store and regulate water to power the many mills and factories downstream, most of which were destroyed or damaged in the breach, including Joel Hayden Sr.'s brass works, cotton factory and foundry. Hayden was one of the local industrialists who spearheaded construction of the dam. Ironically, Hayden, who had been concerned for years about the dam's strength and ability to withstand heavy rains -to the point of monitoring the structure himself during downpours - had satisfied himself in the Spring of 1873 that the dam would last after all. 139 people perished in the devastating flood, 27 of them residents of Haydenville.

There are three broom-making firms shown on this detail of the village of North Hadley. At the turn of the 19th century, broomcorn was the most prolific cultivated plant in Hadley and the town led the nation in the manufacture and export of corn brooms. By 1854, when this map was published, tobacco had risen to the top of the farmer's planting list and the broomcorn industry was fading away.

Northampton marks 225 years as a city in 2009, having been incorporated in 1884, 230 years after being granted its charter as the town of Nonotuck (in 1654), and 30 years after this map was produced. One of the nicest features of this map detail is that the names of the streets are indicated. Inexplicably, most of the featured map's town details have omitted this important function.

Prominent in the upper left quadrant of this map is Dr. Halsted's Water Cure treatment facility. Dr. Halsted offered to cure patients suffering from nervous afflictions, curvatures, low spirits, paralysis and even constipation using a method of combined hydropathy and electrical shock treatments. This method was touted by Dr. Halsted as "magical in its efficacy" and "always sure to cure." For more on water cure spas, including Halsted's, take a look at the Worcester Women's History Project web page:

And here is a link to a previous EWM post featuring old and somewhat amusing medical advertisements:

Advertisements: Hope in a Bottle, Circa 1885

And a past post on Northampton from EWM:

Of Icemen and Presidents: Photos of Northampton at the Dawn of the 20th Century

When the ink of this map was laid to paper, Mt. Holyoke Female Seminary, founded by Mary Lyon in 1837, was nearing the end of its second decade of dedication to the pursuit of higher education for women. Today, Lyon's dream - now known as Mount Holyoke College - is still going strong in South Hadley. For more on South Hadley history, visit the informative and excellent blog of the South Hadley Historical Society at:

The Connecticut River was both partner and obstacle to settlers along her banks as witnessed by the existence of both dam and ferry in this detail.

The village of Southampton was carved out of Northampton in 1730 and was duly incorporated as a town in 1753. One of the earliest capitalizations of Southampton's natural resources came in the late 1600s, when investors formed an outfit that began mining the lead running in veins beneath the town. The original mining enterprise was short-lived, but in the mid-1700s the digging began anew under fresh investors and by 1770 the gamble was paying off. The shot heard 'round the world and the beginning of the American Revolution in 1776 brought operations to a standstill for two decades and it wasn't until 1807 that the mining of lead recommenced in Southampton. Throughout its life, the mine invariably seemed to suffer the fate of an industrial toy easily grown tired of by investors and was closed again around 1820. Midway through the 19th century another attempt was made to recharge the mining business in town. After about 15 years of operations, lead mining in Southampton ended for good in 1865. Here's a link to the Town of Southampton's web site:

Ware was at the dawn of its most prosperous era in when this map was drawn in 1854. The Otis Company Cotton Mills and the Gilbert and Steven Woolen Mills saw the height of their firms' prosperity from around 1850 until the early 20th century when industry competition operating more efficiently began driving the companies under, despite the best efforts of the workers to keep the companies profitable.

Williamsburg was also seriously affected by the aforementioned Williamsburg reservoir dam collapse on the Mill River that destroyed Haydenville and the resulting loss of life and property caused by the disaster took years for the town to recover from. Many river-side mills were never rebuilt, erased by the flood permanently. An excellent book on the devastating flood is 2004's In The Shadow of the Dam by Elizabeth M. Sharpe. Today, Williamsburg is one of the most beautiful and peaceful towns to live in or visit in Western Massachusetts. To explore more, here's the web address of the Town of Williamsburg:

And a link to a preview of Sharpe's book at Google Books:

And here is the outline of Hampshire County as it looks today. The most noticeable map changes between 1854 and 2009 are the renaming of Norwich to Huntington and the disappearance of Enfield, Prescott and Greenwich from the eastern part of Hampshire County to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir. Unless you consider the delivery system's changes as well...from 19th century ink and paper to 21st century captured crop of digitized PDF. Time illustrates the fluidity of a border, the stretching of an idea.

As always, thanks for stopping by and take care.

For more maps, new and old, on EWM and beyond, check out the exclusive EWM feature page, Trails, Rails and Roads: Maps.

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