Rare map of Roxbury, Mass.

Charles Whitney / Engraved by G.W. Boynton , MAP OF the TOWN of ROXBURY SURVEYED IN 1843 BY ORDER OF THE Town Authorities by CHARLES WHITNEY. [Roxbury, Mass?], 1843.
Lithograph, 23 7/8"h x 32 5/8"h plus margins, uncolored

A very rare, separately-issued map of Roxbury, Mass. Annexed to Boston in 1868, the town included the present-day neighborhoods of Hyde Park, Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and West Roxbury.

Whitney’s map provides a detailed view of the natural and human geography of mid 19th-century Roxbury. Symbols and differential shading are employed to differentiate features of the landscape including marshes or meadows, swamps, hills, woodlands and streams. The town’s boundaries are carefully delineated, and the framework of the modern street plan is visible in the eastern part of town while western and southern areas remain largely undeveloped. Roads, schools, and places of worship are identified, and the image is adorned by no fewer than 16 pictorial vignettes of local churches and public buildings. Of particular interest are the outlines of the remains of a Revolutionary-era fort in the Highlands (now Fort Hill) and the complex of rail lines, small canals and industrial development in the area of the Mill Dam, constructed in 1818-21.

Little is known about surveyor Charles Whitney. It is possible that is one and the same as this individual described in the on-line genealogy of the Whitney family:

“Charles Whitney was born 10 Mar 1809, Boston, MA, and died 1 Apr 1899, Boston, MA, aged 90 years 5 months, of arteriosclerosis, “surveyor”. He “of Norwich, Ct.” married, 23 Jan 1840, Worcester, MA, Elizabeth P. Day. She was born 24 Nov 1816, and died 5 Sep 1891.

“When eleven years of age he worked in a shoe store, but soon left for Malden, MA, where he remained for seven years. Wishing to acquire a more complete education he attended an academy at Stow for three years. At his graduation he engaged in teaching, and later in surveying. He followed civil engineering and surveying until 1891. He had purchased a fruit farm in New Jersey, upon which he resided for twenty years. This he disposed of and has since resided in Roxbury.”

Whitney heavily revised and reissued the map in 1849. Both editions are very rare.

OCLC lists examples at the Boston Public Library and Harvard only (Harvard example mutilated). Antique Map Price Record lists only a single example offered for sale in the past three decades. Not in Phillips, List of Maps of America.


Traces of soiling, several mended tears extending into image, lined