This scarce, large, illustrated wall map of Salisbury & Amesbury, Essex County, Massachusetts, Map of the Towns of Salisbury & Amesbury Essex County, Mass. 1854 presents a challenging visual composition of surveys, architecture and landscape along the mighty Merrimack River and its tributary the Powow River. This portrait of Salisbury and Amesbury in 1854 is drawn to highlight new features in each town. The map is unique because of two original manuscript inscriptions.There are seven (7) survey maps and eleven (11) finely drawn lithographed architectural vignettes of Amesbury and Salisbury that surround the survey maps. At the top of the wall map Surveyor E.M. Woodford presents his then current survey of "new" Salisbury, a coastal town on the Atlantic Ocean in Essex County that is the northernmost town in Massachusetts and neighboring Amesbury, also in Essex County in their respective early industrial period, the era from 1830 up to 1854. The bottom sheet of the wall map presents five large scale village survey maps (at two different scales) for each town that bring the villages of each town to life: these village maps locate numerous buildings labeled with the names of the residents or owners, sometimes including occupations, and locate institutions, farms, factories, schools, hotels, et al. and the ferries, railroads, bridges and other transit routes connecting each village and the two towns, and connecting Amesbury and Salisbury to towns across the Merrimack River and to markets and destinations beyond.
The Merrimack River and its tributary the Powow River are primary map features colored in a striking powder blue. These watercourses are best read as primary landforms and as forces of nature that explain why the land shown on Woodford's Map of Salisbury & Amesbury 1854 was settled. The watershed of the mouth of the Merrimack River and the Powow River have an ancient natural and human history, having been first settled by the Pennacook 7,000 years prior to first contact. The Merrimack River was for the Pennacook the primary transit route north to Concord, New Hampshire, and south to the mouth of the Merrimack and its watershed where the Pennacook settled in the Spring and Summer for plentiful hunting grounds, fishing and food gathering. Colonial settlers who crossed the Merrimack River from Newbury and Newburyport in the 17th c. found these rewarding resources and after displacing the Pennacook, settled the land as Salisbury and Amesbury.
This example of the Map of Salisbury & Amesbury 1854 is unique because its own history and provenance include two notable manuscript features: on the back in 19th c. hand is a manuscript ink "Presented to Rev. Saml. C. Bartlett", possibly Rev. Samuel Colcord Bartlett (b. Salisbury, New Hampshire. 1817-1898), Dartmouth class of 1836, Andover Theological Seminary graduate, prior to 1877 resident in Chicago as minister of the New England Church, and thereafter the 8th President of Dartmouth College. On the front of the map, as found, in pencil was another manuscript inscription by the map's presumptive owner who treated the wall map as a large illustrated post card to a friend and her script, 19th c. manuscript pencil inscription read: "Old Buildings to New____If you like this Map, Come & See the place it represents Ann" . Further research is required to establish whether there was any relationship between Ann the author of the pencil inscription and Rev. Saml. C. Bartlett. By accident during conservation this pencil inscription was lost. A photograph of the wall map in its original, untouched condition still bearing the pencil manuscript inscription is included with this description. The photograph in its entirety is also available for review.
The Map of the Towns of Salisbury & Amesbury Essex County, Mass. 1854 tells town history and the town's current conditions with elegant architectural lithographs that include several stately Greek Revival and Italianate homes each one identified by its owner's name. The large dwelling house of Wm. S. Howard "for the accommodation of Summer boarders" is set back from a road along which a horse drawn coach speeds. Detailed vignettes include two different carriage manufacturies, each with smoke wafting from the workshop chimney, one with a distant flock of seagulls in the sky, as a worker stands on a porch with sets of wheels. Close to the shop we see each owner's well built home. Another vignette shows a 2-story Main Street office building with Jonathan Nayson's pharmacy - "J.Nayson" painted on one sign attached to the building, and on the Main Street side a large druggist's mortar and pestle designed as a sign hung from the building. The next two architectural portraits are of churches, both Baptist : the "First Baptist Church of Salisbury & Amesbury, Mass. built 1837" and with a misspelling missed by the publisher the "Freevill Baptist Church erected 1851" with the note "Designed by Rev. W.P.Merrill." The latter church is the "Free Will" Baptist Church whose association was formed in 1849. Rev. W.P. Merrill may be the building designer or he rendered the drawing. Together, these five village maps and eleven detailed, lithographed vignettes express the growth, industry, culture, religious institutions and affluence of each town, an affluence generated primarily from large scale manufacturing in the woolen mills sited in Amesbury along the Powow River, whose many falls generated hydropower for the mills.
It is ironic and a reflection of how the map's underwriters wished these towns to be perceived, that none of the seven, large 3 to 5-story mills built between 1830 and 1854 in Amesbury are shown on this map as vignettes. Or vignettes of the surrounding worker housing. Or other houses of worship. By 1848 the Salisbury Manufacturing Company had built Mill No. 7 in Amesbury. Worker housing, multi story buildings were built nearby. In 1852, the miill workers known as operatives struck the Salisbury Mills over being able to take a lunch hour. Amesbury town meeting appropriated $2,000.00 to assist the strikers. The mill owners brought in foreign workers and broke the strike. What E.M. Woodford's 1854 surveys do show, in detail on the large scale village maps, are the networks of new roads, recently subdivided building lots, small factories and dense worker housing that all reflect economic demand generated from 1840 to 1854 (and beyond) by the Salisbury Manufacturing Co.'s seven large multi-story mills. The large influx of mill workers from Canada, England and Ireland also increased Amesbury's population substantially. Market Street in Amesbury in 1850 is the site of many new larger buildings, including churches and the new Friends Meeting House. The poet John Greenleaf Whittier lived in Amesbury from 1836 until his death in 1892, known both for his poetry and for his anti-slavery advocacy as a Quaker. The village maps show numerous schools, including a new private school.
Road transit routes and the Eastern R.R. and Salisbury Branch railroad are shown at the top of the wall map on the two town maps. On the Salisbury & Amesbury Village map the newer Salisbury Line appears only as a stub, and is thus hard to interpret. In 1847-48, the Salisbury line was extended from the coastal Eastern R.R. line west to the Powow River. The new Salisbury rail line was a critical transit connection practically and financially for Amesbury, as it permitted the Amesbury mills and other local business to make direct train shipment of products to national and international markets. Other transit links, such as the bridges across the Powow River and ferries and docks on the Merrimack River appear on these large scale village maps, including a chain bridge with toll house on Deer Island from Amesbury to Newburyport.
E.M.Woodford's illustrated wall maps, and in particular the Salisbury & Amesbury 1854 wall map, unique due to its manuscript message, remind us how much our sense of place relies on landmarks. Ann's manuscript notation on the Salisbury & Amesbury 1854 map, "Old buildings to New" and "If you like this Map, Come & See the place it represents" provides us with a 19th c. critical eye for appreciating the value of architectural portraits on a map and how a map is a representation of a place and of human experience over time. Woodford's 1854 map is surveying, it is art, it is civic persuasion and memory. What a recognizably "modern" perspective expressed in Ann's separately documented pencil note that she employed to convert this large map into a gift , a post card and a mirror of time past and present.
Today's visitor to these two Essex County towns may also travel to Amesbury and Salisbury holding in his or her mind's eye Woodford's 1854 Map of the Towns of Salisbury & Amesbury to see another iteration of the "then and now". The map reminds us that in 1854, a time of rapid demolition, and development, of population surges and a new social order, such changes provoked an acute sense of past, present and an unknown future. As an urban observer today, we might project onto the surviving old buildings new uses, or see the different potential of railroad lines and paths for improved mobility and recreation. Beholding the Merrimack River and its watershed on Clark's historic wall map, one might shed altogether the map's perspective of land surveys and development and instead appreciate the land forms themselves as the primary subject. The Merrimack River is a natural system that incidentally has supported human settlement for at least 7,000 years independently of the historical narrative of this map. Time is like a river.
Dartmouth College, Dartmouth Library, Archives and Manuscripts
Collection: C. Hammond letter | Dartmouth Library Archives & Manuscripts
Bartlett, Samuel Colcord, 1817-1898 | Dartmouth Library Archives & Manuscripts