E.M. Woodford’s rare, large scale, illustrated 1855 wall map of Ellsworth, the county seat of Hancock County, Maine, based on the 1854 survey of D.S. Osborn, captures Ellsworth as a thriving town near the height of its industrial strength in shipbuilding and manufacturing. The detailed wall map of Ellsworth presents the civic and geographic character of the 55 year old town. Hancock County, a rural but resource rich region, poured its resources into Ellsworth as the county seat for local consumption and export. Remarkably, in 1855 there are yet no railroads in Hancock County and much of this commerce was conducted under sail or by wagon.
In addition to the overall town map, there are two detailed inset maps, at a large scale in rods representing Ellsworth Town Center and the industrial Falls Village. Buildings and homes are labeled by owner name, saw mills are identified, numerous smith shops and stores. A powerhouse sits atop the dam on the Union River, that runs north/south through this industrial town and the map shows its four crossings. Geographic features, including water bodies are outlined in blue, include Austin Jordan's mill and dam at Branch Pond and its stream, with two stream crossings. The map demonstrates the role water power played in mid-19th c. Maine's industrial economy.
The Map of Ellsworth, 1855 is a work of geography, history and art, the maps' cartographic features illustrated with architectural vignettes, local scenes and decorative lettering in E.M. Woodford's aesthetic style. The lettering in the title of the map is filled with printer's leaf and floral devices and scroll work. An unusual, geometric, cross-shaped north arrow is prominent in the center of the map. Pictorial vignettes decorate the four corners of the map, showing scenes of daily life. A business directory visually anchors one corner of the map. The lithographer uses the texture of his stone for subtle shading in the landscape scenes. The large scale vignettes show certain Ellsworth buildings that exist today. In each of the vignettes we see townspeople going about their personal and business lives on a summer day, trees in full leaf, horse drawn wagons delivering and picking up passengers. Please see the Original Antique Maps catalogue for Henry Walling's Topographical Map of Hancock County, Maine 1860. with detailed description to provide context and background for this discussion of this 1855 Ellsworth map.
The 1855 Ellsworth business directories reveal a myriad of trades, all characteristic of a thriving mid-19th c. American seaport region. The list includes merchants and fishing outfitters, including C.E. Jarvis & Co., Mrs. Parker's Millinery, R.H. Bridgham the physician and surgeon. The Collector of Customs, Inspector of Customs and Postmaster, Town Clerk and Sheriff are named. Relative to the other Hancock County towns, Ellsworth has both the largest professional population and list of merchants and skilled tradesmen and women. Ellsworth was the county commercial center, and offered the services of a watchmaker, the druggists and apothecaries, master ship builders, land surveyors, the Telegraph Operator, the Ellsworth Gas and Light Company, painters and glaziers, insurance agencies and dry goods and groceries. The 1855 Ellsworth business directory highlights Maine's major industries, lumbering, shipbuilding and businesses serving a prospering clientele.
The years 1854-55, when the map was surveyed and published were the brief period of the Know Nothing Movement in Maine. Between these dates, Ellsworth was the setting for a notorious political event called the "Ellsworth Outrage" carried in national newspapers. The local Know-Nothing party found its local voice in the Ellsworth Herald, edited by William Cheney and later titled the Ellsworth American, who some suggested fomented the controversy to save his failing newspaper. In Ellsworth, the small Know-Nothing party went by the name the "Cast Iron Band" that had an anti-immigrant platform. Other Maine newspapers and the body of Ellsworth residents denounced the Cast Iron Band, and rejected its anti-immigrant posture. The Know Nothing Party arose in the context of rapidly rising immigration to Maine which by 1850, had reached approximately 100,000 new immigrants primarily from Ireland, and some French Canadians who together were Catholic rather than Protestant.
In this time of rapid social change, Catholic Jesuit priest Father John Bapst moved to Ellsworth to establish a Catholic church, and a Catholic church is shown on the Map of Ellsworth, 1855 at the outskirts of the downtown on High Street, between Elm and Deane Streets. Father Bapst was one of a small number of Catholic priests in Maine and his story is told in detail by the dissertation noted below upon which these comments are based 1/. Father Bapst had a congregation and led a new Catholic school connected to the church to teach congregants' children who had been expelled from the Ellsworth public school for being unwilling to read from the Protestant Bible. Their private teacher was a town resident. Father Bapst joined with one child's parent in mounting a legal challenge to the Ellsworth School Board requirement that school attendance was mandatory, that the curriculum required study of the King James Bible, and students who refused to read from this book would be expelled. The 1820 Maine Constitution guaranteed free exercise of religion 2./. Father Bapst did not prevail in Donahue v. Richards, the Maine Supreme Court holding that the School Board was within its proper authority. Here is a mid- 19th c. example of American constitutional history and of the frequent gulf between the state constitution's granted right of free exercise of religion, and its exercise.
Violence against Father Bapst, life threatening before the court case, next reached a horrific peak when he was abducted by a group from the Cast Iron Band, taken to the town piers, tarred and feathered and rode out of town attached to an iron rail. Col. Charles Jarvis, a town leader and friend of Father Pabst came to his rescue as he had previously. The Ellsworth wall map shows the Col. Jarvis house and several Jarvis named buildings. Father Pabst left Ellsworth and moved to Bangor, to recover. He then settled in Boston, Massachusetts and worked with others to establish Boston College.
The map's publisher would have been aware of this political incident given its national profile, albeit brief and now largely unknown. I recall my first curious impression of the cruciform north arrow on the Map of Ellsworth 1855. While this form may exist on other maps, it does not appear to my knowledge on other Woodford maps and certainly does raise the question of whether the cruciform was chosen for reasons in part related to this history.
Today, Ellsworth, Maine is the gateway in Hancock County to Acadia National Park on Deer Isle, the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, whose curriculum in marine biology and ecology draw knowledge from the jagged seacoast and numerous islands, large and small. As a paper tapestry, this large, detailed and pictorial wall map, Map of Ellsworth 1855 invites us to visit and truly see Ellsworth's 19th c. origins and urban plan formed still by Maine's local geography of rivers, mountains and the Atlantic seacoast.
1./ Maine Constitution. 1820 - viewcontent.cgi
2./ See, "Father John Bapst and the Know-Nothing Movement in Maine," Anatole O. Baillargon, O.M.I., Thesis presented to Faculty of Arts of Ottawa University for the degree of Master of Arts, Bar Harbor, Maine 1950. In the Library of Univ. Ottawa.