Felton & Parker map of Charlestown Massachusetts in 1848

Felton & Parker / Eben[eze]r Barker / J. H. Bufford’s Lithog[raph]y, PLAN OF the City of CHARLESTOWN, made by order of the CITY COUNCIL from actual survey, BY Felton & Parker Ebenr. Barker 1848. Boston, 1848.
Lithograph, 25”h x 32 ½”w plus margins, uncolored.

A rare, interesting and accomplished map of Charlestown Massachusetts in 1848, produced by two men who were to become major figures in the American railroad sector.

The map depicts Charlestown in its entirety, as well as parts of nearby Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Malden, Chelsea and East Boston. It shows of course the street layout and street names, with ward boundaries indicated by dashed lines, as well as the area’s numerous rail lines, bridges, dams, wharves and other infrastructure, all identified by name and/or owner. Also of interest are the facilities of the Navy Yard and the huge amount of newly-made land across the river in East Boston. Buildings housing City Hall, schools and places of worship are identified by a Reference table at lower right.

The work of Felton, Parker and Barker reflected the first significant re-survey of Charlestown since that of Peter Tufts in 1818, and it documents substantial changes in the landscape in the intervening years.

“…the extension of Chelsea Street to City Square, Gray Street on the site of the former Town Dock, Canal Street on made land next to the mill pond, the Warren Bridge, the tracks of the Fitchburg Railroad and newly made land on the southwestern waterfront, and the quay walls and made land at the Navy Yard.” (Nancy Seasholes, Gaining Ground, p. 390)

The map is rare. I find ten institutional holdings, most in Massachusetts, but no record of its having appeared on the antiquarian market.

Parker, Felton and Barker
George A. Parker (1822-1887) was a railroad engineer and executive active primarily in Massachusetts. One source describes him as “an accomplished civil engineer who, among other things, acted as superintendent of military railroads at the request of Secretary [of War] Stanton during the Civil War.” An 1890s photograph of his Lancaster, Mass. estate suggests that he did extremely well for himself. Parker’s collaborator Samuel Morse Felton (1809-1889), also an engineer, seems to have been equally accomplished.

“[He] spent much of his life in Massachusetts where he studied civil engineering and for a time served as the secretary of the Charlestown Lyceum. In 1843, he took an engineering job with the Fitchburg Railroad in Boston. In 1851, he left Massachusetts and took over the job of president of the financially troubled Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad (PWBRR). As president, Felton helped restore this floundering railroad and it became one of the most important transportation routes for Union soldiers during the Civil War. A few years later, Felton was named president of the Pennsylvania Steel Company, though he maintained his connections with PWBRR. He also served with several other railroads during this time, such as the local Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, the Northern Pacific Railroad, which traversed much of the northwestern United States; and the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad, with served far upstate New York. From 1862 to 1865, Felton helped oversee the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel in Massachusetts. In 1869, he accepted President Ulysses Grant’s appointment as commissioner to inspect Pacific railroads. (Finding aid to the Felton Family Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania)

The partnership of Felton & Parker, Civil Engineers seems to have begun in the early 1840s, with offices on City Square in Charlestown. OCLC credits them with a pair of plats for Charlestown properties lithographed by Thayer & Co. in 1843, and a number of manuscript maps for rail routes in southern New England Railroads produced between 1846 and 1848. The firm must have dissolved by 1851, when Felton left to take over the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad.

Ebenezer Barker (1796-1868) the third man credited on the map, played on a smaller stage as a surveyor, civil engineer, Middlesex Bridge commissioner, and an agent of the Charles River and Warren Bridges.” (Finding aid to the Barker-Edes-Noyes Family Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society)

As of September 2017 OCLC gives four listings with a total of seven institutional holdings (Boston Public, British Library, Clements Library, Harvard, Massachusetts Historical Society, Massachusetts State Library, and Peabody Essex Museum). Boston Engineering Department, List of Maps of Boston Published between 1600 and 1903 (1903), p. 127 (adding Boston Engineering Department, Middlesex County Registry of Deeds, and Middlesex County Commissioners). Nancy Seasholes, Gaining Ground, fig. 14.5. Justin Winsor, Memorial History of Boston, vol. III p. xii.


Expertly remargined all around, with reinstatement to upper, lower and right neat line.