Henry Francis Walling's1/ large scale, Map of the County of Berkshire Massachusetts, 1858 ("County of Berkshire Map ") is a decorated, topographical, trigonometric survey of Berkshire County, Massachusetts presenting the Berkshire Hills and this mountainous region on the westernmost edge of Massachusetts, its rivers, valleys, plains and its prospering towns and institutions at mid-19th century three years before the U.S. Civil War. The northern towns of Berkshire County burst beyond the map's top border. Homes, businesses, farms, taverns, mills and other developed locations are labeled by family name on the County of Berkshire Map. There are forty-eight (48) inset maps, one of each town center (each at a different scale), including a large map of the county seat, Pittsfield, for each major and small town in Berkshire County. These inset maps provide the distinctive features and fine details of each town or village center on this county map.2/ Walling had previously performed or supervised surveys of these Berkshire County towns such as Adams, Williamstown, Lenox,3/ and Stockbridge and his purpose in publishing the county map was to update and expand the information provided. Another inset map shows Edward Hitchcock's geological profile of Berkshire County. Several charts present the industry, agriculture and population based on the 1855 census. So that a traveler could gauge distances, there is a table of distances between Berkshire County towns. Distance shown on the map is at a scale of 14" to 1 mile. Walling's County of Berkshire Map frames the western boundary of Massachusetts and is the cartographic complement to Walling's Atlantic Coast 1859 Map of Boston and Its Vicinity, a large scale portrait of Boston and Boston Harbor as a port of international reach. 4/
Mountains and hills are among the most defining landscape features in Berkshire County.5/ The County of Berkshire Map represents the mountains graphically and with shading. Greylock Mountain in Adams uniquely is labeled as 3,505 "Ft above tide Water" and is the highest elevation in Massachusetts. Today Mount Greylock is home to one of the few remaining areas of old growth forest. The Housatonic River is a prominent water body in the western part of Berkshire County flowing south to Long Island Sound. The Hoosac River, running southward from New York and Vermont is the prominent river in the northern part of the county. These rivers provided an early means of travel to and from the Berkshire region, a region settled for generations by Native Americans who were first confronted in 1725 by colonizing settlers in Sheffield. The 1738 purchase by three wealthy colonists 6/ of 24,000 acres known as Pontoosuck in 1752 became Pontoosuck Plantation the forerunner of the City of Pittsfield. In 1761, a Massachusetts Provincial Governor gave the region its "Berkshire" name after his English county home.
The County of Berkshire Map is decorated with four large vignettes, one in each corner of the map, not of typical 19th c. businesses, churches or architectural landmarks but of two schools and two medical institutes: Sedgewick Institute of Great Barrington, Maplewood Young Ladies Institute in Pittsfield, the Berkshire Medical Institute in Pittsfield and Collins Institute in Great Barrington. The Sedgewick Institute vignette portrays the site planted with small, young trees among which students can be seen strolling. The Maplewood Young Ladies Institute, consisting of multiple fine buildings is set in an established landscape. The Collins Institute, founded by medical doctor Clarkson T. Collins is drawn on a busy main street and its front yard is decorated by a fancy water fountain. The subtitle of this vignette explains that the institute is "Now in successful operation as of 1858" for the treatment of chronic diseases. Otherwise, schools, estates, churches and mills are located and labeled on the map itself. Williams College, chartered in 1793 in Williamstown, Massachusetts is detailed on the map by its labeled college buildings. Ephraim Williams, Jr., its founder had lived in Stockbridge.
These vignettes are accompanied by the map's Business Directory that lists names of numerous doctors and physicians in small and large towns practicing in various specialties: allopathy, botanic medicine, dentistry, surgery and chronic diseases. In South Adams, D.C. Clark is listed as both a dentist and daguerrean artist. (those dental xrays!) Pittsfield has the largest concentration of artists, mostly photographic and ambrotype galleries and Mr. Rathbun, a designer and architect.
The map's Business Directory also reveals a substantial number of school principals and schools. Paper manufacture is a major industry. In Dalton, the legendary Crane & Co. and Crane, Martin & Co. paper manufacturers are listed as are their mills located in Dalton on the map. A bookbinder is listed in Lenox. The Manufactures part of the chart lists 1855 annual value produced of $12,756,000 including heavy industry in order of greatest value: paper making, woolen mills, pig iron, glass and railroad coaches. In 1807 merino sheep from Spain were shipped to Pittsfield. By 1858, their flocks grew to become the basis of Pittsfield's thriving woolen industry. Stone and rock building blocks are also listed as a manufacture. Agriculture was a necessary component of this rural economy and reflects the climate and topography available for farming. For 1855, the dollar value in millions of pounds is reported: Butter and Cheese head the list, followed by oats, potatoes and Indian Corn, and Maple Sugar. For produce rye, hay and root vegetables are listed. Raising sheep, cows and oxen greatly exceeds livestock of horses or pigs.
Railroads shown on the map connect Berkshire County to other parts of Massachusetts, to the New England region and to New York. Rail lines were useful for freight and for business travel. And trains were also vital in establishing the tourist and resort aspects of Berkshire County.
Tourism became a mid-19th c. force for settlement and development in Berkshire County. The 19th c. writers Herman Melville, whose study looked out at Greylock Mountain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edith Wharton settled in the county to write and make a home in the Berkshire landscape. Hotels and town taverns are shown on the map. By the 1850's, Berkshire County's reputation as a summer haven for artists, intellectuals and musicians was well established and continues as a studio and performing arts locale to this day. Landscape painter Thomas Cole created iconic local Massachusetts landscapes. George Inness, another landscape painter also painted the Berkshire forests and mountains. A short century later, in 1937, music became established at Tanglewood, a concert venue in Lenox and Stockbridge, still the summer home to the Boston Symphony Orchestra and its music school. In 1930, Jacob's Pillow in Becket was founded in a barn as a modern dance school and performance center. Berkshire County has for over two centuries been chosen by writers, studio artists and performing artists who have made the region their home, studio and community.
1. As Massachusetts Superintendent of the State Map from 1855 to 1888, Henry Francis Walling (1825 to 1888) surveyed or supervised the survey of every town and county in Massachusetts. Walling's fourteen Massachusetts county maps, surveyed and published between 1855 and 1860, were based on town or city maps that he had surveyed in part with municipal payments and published at his own expense. For his revision in 1860 of the Massachusetts state map Walling was not compensated, instead, in Walling's own words, "...the privilege of publishing the map was granted him" and according to Ristow that map was not completed and Walling lost money as he was not paid at all for his time, skill and efforts. Over the course of his professional life (1848-1888) Henry Walling surveyed, drew and privately published maps in 20 states, 280 counties and at least 100 municipalities. His mapmaking set the standards for 19th c. American maps. Please see, Ristow at 338.
2. The typical town population in Berkshire County as of 1855 was in the 500 to 1,800 range (20), several towns were above 2,000 and the largest town by population is Adams (6,980), followed by Pittsfield (6501).
3. Map of the Town of Lenox Berkshire Co. Massachusetts 1854: Map of the Town of Lenox Berkshire Co. Massachusetts, 1854 | Original Antique Maps by Carol J. Spack
4. Map of Boston and Its Vicinity, 1858. See, Map of Boston and Its Vicinity, 1859 | Original Antique Maps by Carol J. Spack
5. By 1884, Walling was engaged in and in charge of a three-party collaboration among the U.S. Coast Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey and a newly established Massachusetts Commissioners of the State Topographical Survey to make a topographical map of New England with contour lines. Walling's field survey experience with the New England states made him uniquely qualified. In 1884, Walling's first survey work for this updated topographical survey was in Berkshire County, a hilly and mountainous region where trigonometric surveys and the establishment of contour lines was most demanding. The County of Berkshire Map 1858 laid the foundation for this part of Walling's 1884 work.
6. Col. Jacob Wendell of Boston in partnership with Philip Livingston of Albany, New York and Col. John Stoddard of Northampton.
American Maps and Mapmakers, Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century, Walter W. Ristow, Wayne State University Press, Detroit 1986.