Two extremely rare maps of early Ohio towns, both with distinguished provenance, and with interesting connections to the early settlement of the region, the development of the Miami and Erie Canal, and the Toledo War.
American settlement in the Maumee River area of Ohio began in the early 19th century but was set back by raids by the British and their Indian allies during the War of 1812. Perhaps the earliest such settlement was Port Miami, established in 1805 just below the falls of the Maumee as a port of entry for the newly-created District of Miami but abandoned in 1812. In 1816 Perrysburg was laid out across the river from the ruins of Port Miami and just downstream from Fort Meigs, which had been the scene of much fighting during the war. In the following year Maumee was laid out on the west bank.
In the early 1830s a group of Cincinnati investors began to develop Port Lawrence at the mouth of Swan Creek some twelve miles downstream from Maumee and Perrysburg. Another group, from Lockport, New York, began to develop an adjacent parcel by the name of Vistula. The two merged in 1833 to form Toledo, with the goal of competing against Perrysburg and other Maumee River towns to become the northern terminus of the Miami and Erie Canal then being constructed between the Ohio River and Lake Erie. Though another site downriver from Toledo was ultimately selected, the latter received a sidecut along Swan Creek, whose greater water depth rendered it the de facto canal terminus. With the canal’s completion in 1843 Toledo began a decades-long economic boom.
Offered here are two extremely rare maps from this formative period of Maumee River history, published within months of one another but under separate auspices. Each was presumably issued by their respective towns’ investors, with the intent of promoting them as attractive places to invest and/or settle and as termini for the Miami and Erie Canal.
The Map of the Towns of Perrysburg, Maumee and Port Miami (1835) depicts the area at the falls of the Maumee River, some 15 miles upstream for Lake Erie. It offers a relatively ambitious vision for Perrysburg, with no fewer than 794 lots platted, most of them small parcels in a dense town center, along with a shipyard along the river and turnpikes connecting with Cincinnati, Columbus and Sandusky. Across the river are the smaller villages of Maumee and Port Miami, the latter presumably presented here as a potential terminus for the Miami and Erie Canal. The map was “projected” by one “A. Olney,” presumably Albion A. Olney, resident of Perrysburg, who represented the town at a January 6, 1835 convention at White Pigeon, M.T., which petitioned the War Department to survey a rail route uniting Michigan Territory and Lake Erie. (American Railroad Journal, and Advocate of Internal Improvements, vol. 4, p. 66)
The second map, likely published in late 1834 or 1835, depicts Toledo as essentially the sum of its parts: the plats of the former towns of Port Lawrence (at left) and Vistula (at right) are shown awkwardly joined at Orange Street, an arrangement clearly visible on a modern map of the city. The new town is shown divided into blocks and lots, with the streets named after presidents, trees and geographical features. The map is heavily annotated by an early owner, with an alphabetical key identifying three hotels, taverns, and the building housing both the Post Office and the Toledo Gazette. Many lots and in some cases entire blocks are inked in, perhaps to indicate that they are the property of the map’s owner. At the outlet of Swan Creek is indicated the site of Fort Industry, a temporary fortification constructed by the U.S. Army around 1805, as well as “high ground” and “low ground” on the far bank.
Also of interest is an inset “Map of the Maumee River from its mouth to Perrysburgh showing the navigable channel from actual soundings in the Month of August 1834.” On this the owner has inked in “New Buffalo” at the mouth of the Maumee, linked to Swan Creek by a dashed line, while further upstream he has added “Fort Miami,” “Port Miami,” “Ewing Island,” “Maumee” and “Site of Fort Meigs”—a nice connection with the Map of the Towns of Perrysburg, Maumee and Port Miami described earlier.
The front pastedown of the folder bears the inscription “H. G. Hubbard from Andrew Palmer Esq. Toledo, M. T., 1835. Sept. 7th.” Palmer (1808-?) was a prominent early citizen of Toledo. A native of Binghamton, New York, he made some money in the newspaper business before shifting west to the Port Lawrence settlement in 1833, which at the time held perhaps 20 families. Liking the area’s prospects, he purchased 1/16 of the Port Lawrence Company’s lands, then gained a position as the Company’s on-site agent. Over the next decade he built up a prosperous real estate and warehousing business, founded the Toledo Gazette, and made an unsuccessful run for mayor before moving on to Wisconsin in 1845. The many annotations on the map are presumably his. (Scribner, Memoirs of Lucas County and the City of Toledo (1910), pp. 211-213.) H.G. Hubbard, to whom Palmer presented the map, was a citizen of Detroit, sufficiently prominent that he was a founding member and officer of the Detroit Agricultural and Horticultural Society. (Farmer, The History of Detroit and Michigan (1884), p. 300.)
The inscription presents us with an interesting puzzle. Its date of 1835 coincides with the so-called “Toledo War,” a dispute between Michigan Territory and the State of Ohio over a 468-square-mile strip of land along their shared border. Though militias were mobilized and shots fired, the sole casualty was Deputy Sheriff Joseph Wood of Monroe County, Michigan, who was wounded by a pen knife in a scuffle with Ohio militia major Benjamin Stickney and his sons. Michigan eventually relented under pressure from President Jackson and the financial burden imposed by its militia mobilization, though it received much of the Upper Peninsula in return. This looked like a terrible deal for Michigan, until staggering quantities of copper and iron were discovered there, catalyzing a mining boom that lasted into the 20th century.
Now, Andrew Palmer was an ardent supporter of Ohio’s claim to the Toledo Strip during the “War” of 1835-36. Hubbard, on the other hand, was among the Michigan militia sent to Toledo to enforce Michigan’s claim to sovereignty. Indeed, the inscription’s date of Sept. 7, 1835 coincides exactly with Hubbard’s presence in Toledo. It is a mystery why Ohioan Palmer would have presented this map to Michigander Hubbard, on the very date on which one would have expected their mutual hostility to have reached a new peak. It is also a mystery why Ohio patriot Palmer would have inscribed the map “Toledo, M[ichigan] T[erritory]”!
Lending yet further luster to the Toledo map, the rear pastedown of the folder bears the small oval bookplate of Americana collector Thomas W. Streeter.
Provenance and references
Map of Port-Lawrence and Vistula: Goodspeeds 1948-Streeter III:1373-Warren Heckrotte-PBA Galleries sale 586 lot 245 (May 19, 2016). Karrow, Middle West, 2:2578. OCLC 55533145 (Cornell and Western University, Ontario only). Heckrotte notes additional locations at the Ohio Historical Society and Toledo Public Library. Not in Phillips or Rumsey.
Map of the Towns of Perrysburg &c: Philadelphia Print Shop 1995-Warren Heckrotte-PBA Galleries sale 586 lot 209 (May 19, 2016). Not in Karrow, OCLC, Phillips or Rumsey.