A Map of the Towns of Dorchester and Milton, 1831.

A Map of the Towns of Dorchester and Milton, 1831. Made Under the direction of the Town's committees for the use of the Commonwealth From Actual Surveys, Made By Edmund J. Baker, SurveyR
Black and white lithograph
Professionally conserved
complete original map, professionally conserved, backed on new linen, holes where original wood rods were attached retained intentionally, limited restoration to map's neat line at two corners
25 × 32 inches
Sale Status: 
For Sale

This rare and early published survey of the Towns of Dorchester and Milton, Massachusetts was prepared and published to satisfy the 1830 order of the Massachusetts Legislature that each town in the Commonwealth have prepared a survey of its boundaries, roads and interior features. The 1831 Edmund J. Baker survey of these two towns straddling the Neponset River, which serves as the boundary line between them, conveys considerable geographic, economic and historic information about these early Massachusetts towns as of 1830 to 1831. Both 18th and early 19th c. Dorchester and Milton contributed locally manufactured goods to industries elsewhere in Massachusetts which can be discerned from the graphic and text narrative Baker includes in this map. Finally, this rare map displays how lithography is employed as a fine art medium by Pendleton's Lithography, who here uses the texture of the lithographic stone itself to great advantage to create fine grained shading and grey tones throughout  the map to represent changes in elevation of the slopes of the Blue Hills, Brush Hill, Savin Hill, and the navigable waters of the Neponset River and tidal shallows in Dorchester Bay.

            On the face of this graphically elegant map, whose title is decoratively lettered in five different fonts, we learn the census population data for 1820 and 1830, when Milton had approximately 1,500 residents and Dorchester had an increase from 3,684 to 4,056. Much of the latter can be attributed to industry. Home owner names are shown on the map. The surveyor includes an inventory of the key institutions in each town, listing public schools, "Houses for Public Worship", a Lyceum and an Academy, Paper Mills, a "Drug Mill", in Dorchester an Alms House, two Librairies, and a woolen mill, four paper mills, numerous corn mills and two chocolate mills. In all there are four paper mills shown on this map, across the Neponset River from each other and situated to take advantage of the valuable water power it afforded. Paper was an early Milton industry, tapped in 1775 by the Provincial Congress to provide paper for its first printing order and for Isaiah Thomas for his early Worcester editions of the Worcester Spy.1/

            The Baker 1831map shows distances in miles, with a chart of distances from the Milton Meeting House and the Dorchester Town House to Boston's Quincy Market via two segments of turnpike, or the longer high road and low roads.  The other noted distance is from the respective town houses to the still extant 1827 Dedham Court House, both the market and courthouse being destinations important to commerce. Another historically significant development shown on this map is the Granite Railway from Quincy to the Neponset River, connecting the Quincy granite quarries that supplied granite blocks for the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument to shipping lanes. The railway is credited with being one of the first in the United States, and was in fact a rail way, with cars pulled on iron rails by horses. According to the Atlas Obscura 2/ remnants of the rails may be found in Quincy. In the Milton section of this map near the terminus of the rail line, the surveyor has located the Railway House and stables, built in 1826 according to the Milton Historical Society to accommodate both commercial lodgers and tourists from Boston curious to see the new Granite Railway.3/ The Baker map also locates the Savin Hill Hotel in Dorchester, "savin" being cedar trees and this hill an early 19th c. tourist destination.

            This rare map of Milton and Dorchester presents in one small lithograph the towns' geography and industry, the Neponset River water power and numerous factories, two segments of turnpike to Boston and an early rail line. From Baker's published survey and map of Milton and Dorchester it is immediately apparent how well poised Dorchester and Milton were to support both local and national industrial growth of the next two decades. 4/ The map is also an example of fine lithography using a palette of only black and white, with tones of grey and reminds us that the printer's art has no substitutes.


1. American Antiquarian Society, Annals 1900, Some Notes on Isaiah Thomas and His Worcester Imprints, p. 434.  Charles L. Nichols. The paper source proved to be unreliable and Isaiah Thomas ultimately built his own large paper factory in Worcester, Massachusetts.

2. Atlasobscura.com carries an article with photographs and a map to permit locating what it describes as remnants of the "Incline" segment of the Granite Railway in Quincy near a former quarry site.    

3. See Milton Historical Society web site for additional background on 19th century Milton tavern life, whose taverns may also be located on this map.

4. In fact, by 1869 Boston had by plebiscite annexed Dorchester.

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