The first published map of Rochester, Mass.

Walling, H[enry] Frances] (1825-88) / A.S. Mowry, Assistant Eng[inee]r / Lith. of F. Mayer & Co. 96 Fulton St. N.Y. , MAP OF THE TOWN OF ROCHESTER PLYMOUTH COUNTY Massachusetts. Surveyed by order of the Town by H.F. Walling. 1856. , Boston, 1856.
Lithograph, 36 ¼"h x 24 1/8"w plus margins, original wash color. Backed with linen and mounted on rollers, all original.

A lovely example of this scarce and richly-detailed map.

The map’s very large scale enables Walling to portray Rochester in enormous detail, including the street network and the lines of the Cape Cod and Fairhaven Branch Railroads; dwellings, mills, schools and other structures; and the names of hundreds of landowners. Symbols differentiate the varied topography of woodland, meadows and wetlands. The map’s documentary value is increased inset plans of the coastal villages of Mattapoisett and Cannonville, and its decorative appeal is enhanced by a delicate foliate border.

Several factors promoted the rise of commercial map publishing in the United States during the mid-1800s. Production costs were sharply reduced by the rapid spread of lithographic printing, a growing middle class and proliferation of commerce stimulated demand, and urban development required a steady stream of updated maps. Henry F. Walling was one of the most distinguished and prolific mapmakers to take advantage of these factors, and during his long career produced dozens of atlases, maps and plans of New England towns, cities and states. Later in his career he went to work for the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, in which service Walling made major contributions to the topographic mapping of Massachusetts.

According to a note on this map of Rochester, “Assistance has been derived in preparing this map from the U.S. Coast Survey also from surveys and plans made by Ansel.” Walling was an extremely conscientious map maker and made use of the best available sources, including Coast Survey charts which yielded superb information for coastal towns. “Ansel” may be the “Ansel Weeks, Surveyor” identified in an 1867 directory for Mattapoisett. A history of Mattapoisett mentions him in connection with a September, 1857 survey of the Mattapoisett-Fairhaven line and “a town map begun by the data of Ansel Weeks.” (A Committee of the Town of Mattapoisett, Mattapoisett and Old Rochester Massachusetts, pp. 251 and 313)

Not in Phillips, A List of Maps of America or Rumsey. For an extended discussion of Walling’s urban maps, se Michael Buehler, “Henry F. Walling and the Mapping of New England’s Towns, 1849-1857” in The Portolan, no. 71 (Spring 2008), pp. 22-33. Chapter 20 of Ristow’s American Maps and Makers provides a more general discussion of Walling’s life and work.


Faint water stain at lower left, a few specks of soiling at center left, a bit of scuffing, and selvage perished, but still about excellent for its type.