A monumental and richly informative wall map of Belknap County, New Hampshire, including terrific detail for Lake Winnipesaukee and the surrounding area. By Edgar Maurice Woodford, one of the preeminent American makers of large-scale city and county maps in the 1850s.
Published in 1859, this was for its time by far the largest and most detailed map of Belknap County and Lake Winnipesaukee. The county’s topography is shown by means of hachuring and shading, and the intricate shoreline of the Lake is laid out with some care. The boundaries of Center Harbor, New Hampton, Laconia, Meredith, and other towns are indicated by printed borders and vivid outline coloring; and roads, streets and the line of the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad are shown.
Arguably the map’s greatest contribution lies in its identification by name of many thousands of landowners and residents, as well as businesses including the region’s many factories, mills and other businesses. Further information is provided by 16 inset plans of population centers, tables of distances and population, and several business directories; while 13 pictorial vignettes of area residences, factories and educational institutions lend both visual appeal and documentary value. It is particularly striking that an area now best-known as a Summer and Fall playground had at the time a primarily industrial economy.
Woodford’s map remains one of the best-available resource for understanding the region’s population density and demographics, and was only superseded by the town and county atlases that began to proliferate in the 1870s. Smith & Peavey published a second edition in 1860.
E. M. Woodford (1824-1862)
Edgar Maurice Woodford was born in West Avon, Connecticut, and as a young man worked as a farmer and surveyor. From 1851-1856, however, he turned his attention to commercial map making and publishing, and during that brief period was involved in the production and/or publication of numerous maps of New England towns and counties. An ardent abolitionist, in 1856 he headed west to do his part in “Bleeding Kansas,” though I’ve not been able to learn how precisely he spent his time there. By this time he was clearly well off, as the 1860 census valued his property at no less than $5000. In 1862 he enlisted in the 7th Connecticut Regiment, and later that year he died while rescuing Union wounded after a battle near Jacksonville, Florida (According to one source, “the violent exertion raised a rupture of a large internal blood vessel.”)
Walter Ristow asserts that Woodford conducted surveys for nine or ten plans of Connecticut towns (American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 388). In addition I am aware of eleven Massachusetts and two New Hampshire (Hanover and Milford) town maps on which he is credited as the surveyor, all in the years 1851-56. Woodford also tried his hand at publishing, and his imprint appears on at least seven maps, including one of Hanover, New Hampshire and six of Maine towns drawn by D.S. Osborn. He was also involved in producing maps of Hartford (1855), Windham (1856) and Tolland (1857) Counties in Connecticut.
While Woodford’s not rare, it is most uncommon to find it in such fresh, unrestored condition.
Cobb, New Hampshire, #255. Stephenson, Land Ownership Maps, #423.