Yorktown Day marks the anniversary of the 19 October 1781 surrender of British forces to General George Washington ending the Revolutionary War. To celebrate, the Library is highlighting two maps in our collection related to the decisive battle at Yorktown.
In 1956 the Library of Virginia purchased Sebastian Bauman’s A Plan of the Investment of York and Gloucester (1782) from Henry Stevens of Son & Stiles. At the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, Bauman commanded one of the allied batteries; he began drafting his map of the Yorktown battlefield shortly after British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington. His map was the first published in America to depict the American and French victory at the sleepy Virginia port town situated along the York River.
Engraved by Robert Scot of Philadelphia, the map was sold by subscription. Many viewers are immediately drawn to the elaborate scrollwork design along the map’s lower center, made up of flags, cannons, cannonballs, swords, drums, and trumpets. Within it is a description of the letters of the alphabet that identify specific locations on the battlefield. References to the British lines are printed in the upper left corner and the dedication and title are printed on rolled parchment on the map’s upper right corner.
Sebastian Bauman was trained in surveying and mapping as a soldier in the Austrian Army. … read more »
The Library of Virginia’s collections include maps of developments that were never constructed, many of which were conceived prior to the Panic of 1893. In 1890, Pennsylvania Judge John Handley founded The Equity Improvement Company to purchase lands in suburban Winchester for the purpose of bringing in eleven enterprises. Map of Winchester Virginia Addition Made by the Equity Improvement Company was created in 1890 to complement the company’s pamphlet, Prospectus, which was published to attract business and capital to the city. Only one building had been completed and opened for business when the company folded in 1895; and that was the Hotel Winchester.
The map and Prospectus survive as testimony to the plans of Judge Handley and company share holders. As noted on the map, prospective manufacturing sites were set aside and identified by the color orange. An index to public and private buildings in Winchester is printed below the title. The Hotel Winchester was located on Penn Avenue and the Equity Improvement Company offices were located off of Market Street near Piccadilly.
Although he never resided in the city, Judge Handley took great interest in Winchester’s future. Upon his death in 1895, the city was gifted with funds to build Handley Library and a schoolhouse to educate the poor.
-Cassandra B. Farrell, Senior Map Archivist, Collections Access and Management Services
… read more »
The 2016 Alan M. and Nathalie Voorhees Lecture on the History of Cartography will be held at the Library of Virginia on Saturday, 16 April 2016. This year’s lecture, Virginia’s District of Columbia, features two guest speakers: Don Hawkins and Dennis Gurtz. Hawkins will present “An Unappreciated Gift,” illustrating the story of Alexandria’s inclusion in 1791 and departure in 1846 from the District of Columbia with contemporary maps and his own cartographic reconstruction of the time period 1791-1846. Gurtz will discuss several maps of the District in his presentation “The Evolving District of Columbia.” The lectures begin at 1:00 PM. An exhibition of maps related to Washington, D.C. from the collections of Gurtz and the Library of Virginia will be on display from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Today’s Out of the Box post presents a sneak preview of two maps from the Library’s collection that will be on display.
“Plan of the Town of Alexandria, D.C.” was issued by Thomas Sinclair in 1845, shortly before the town was retro-ceded to Virginia. Surveyor Maskell C. Ewing had drawn surveys of planned extensions to Hunting Creek and the Alexandria Canal. The map shows the topographical detail of streets, turnpikes, canals, and a race course, property owners, and many place names. A handwritten note above the remarks section indicates that the lots circled in ink were the … read more »
The 2015 Alan M. and Nathalie Voorhees Lecture on the History of Cartography will be held at the Library of Virginia on Saturday, 18 April. This year’s lecture features two guest speakers: Dr. Susan Schulten will speak on “The Sectional Crisis and The Reinvention of Cartography,” and Cassandra Britt Farrell will give a talk entitled “Field of Battle: A Changing Landscape.” This event includes a special one-day exhibition of maps relating to the talks from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Today on Out of the Box we present a sneak preview of two of the maps from the Library’s collection that will be on display.
The above map by Edwin Hergesheimer represents the distribution of slaves in the commonwealth based on information gleaned from the U.S. Population Census of 1860. Gray tints indicate the percentage of slaves in each county, highlighting a significant regional difference between the northwestern counties, labeled “Kanawha,” with the Tidewater and Southside. This map was copyrighted in 1861 by Henry S. Graham and “Sold for the benefit of the sick and wounded [soldiers] of the U.S. Army.”
In 1863, C.W. Oltmanns, a Confederate topographical engineer, copied the above Map of the Lower Valley from the original drawn by Samuel Howell Brown. Both men worked for Jedidiah Hotchkiss, the chief of General Stonewall Jackson’s topographical staff. It identifies the names of residents … read more »
The Library of Virginia began accessioning maps in 1911. Today its collection has grown to encompass several types of maps, including town plans. One of those plans is currently the center of a mystery for Library of Virginia staff members. Completed by Thomas R. Dunn in the late 19th century, it is drawn with pen and ink on cloth and measures 29 1/2 x 27 1/8 inches. The featured town is 16 blocks wide and 15 blocks high with 4 block spaces in the center. Streets running horizontally are named after states: Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Colorado. Vertically-laid streets are identified sequentially from First Avenue to Sixteenth Avenue. Beyond this basic information, the plan is unnamed and unidentified. What town does it represent?
Dunn did notate the plan but he didn’t include an index to explain the numerous abbreviations. Several lots are identified by surnames but we haven’t been able to verify if they represent the names of lot owners. A search through ProQuest’s digital Sanborn maps collection was not conclusive but there are several Virginia localities that include sections similar to Dunn’s plan, including Portsmouth. The 1920 Sanborn map of the City of Portsmouth is the first we know of featuring a similarly-laid section.
So, what more do we know? T.R. … read more »
This summer’s announcement that Mayo’s Island is again for sale prompted a look back at the history of of the most well-known of the James River islands.
Mayo’s Island is located at degrees 37˚31’45.47”N, 77˚25’59.14”W and can easily be viewed through Google Earth. The U.S. Board on Geographic Names officially registered “Mayo’s Island” as a feature name in 1979. The name also appears on earlier maps and atlases of Richmond, including the Beers (1877) and Baist (1889) atlases. Going back even further, the land mass was unnamed on the Young (1809) and Baist (1835) maps of Richmond, identified only as number “314.” An untitled manuscript map of the city drawn circa 1838 merely labels the island as “Toll Gate,” and an 1873 office map of Richmond identifies present-day Mayo’s Island as two islands: Long Island and Confluence Island.
Plats and certificates from the late 18th and early 19th centuries are extant and they reveal that the islands were commonly known as Long and Confluence Islands; parcels of land were granted by the Virginia Land Office to John Mayo (Long Island) in 1792 and to Thomas Burfoot and Milton Clarke (Confluence Island) in 1830. Mayo had petitioned the General Assembly in November 1784 to build a bridge at his own expense and desired to levy a toll to recoup his costs. While John Mayo never saw his … read more »
The 2014 Alan M. and Nathalie Voorhees Lecture on the History of Cartography will be held at the Library of Virginia on Saturday, 12 April. This year’s lecture features two guest speakers: Dr. Maury Klein, “Railroad Maps as Promises of the Future,” and William C. Wooldridge, “Tracks on Maps: Showcasing Virginia’s 19th Century Railroads.” This event includes a special one-day exhibition of maps relating to the talks from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Out of the Box presents a sneak preview of two of the maps from the Library’s collection that will be on display.
Railroad construction boomed in 1850s Virginia. Railroad companies drafted and published maps to raise support for and to alert the public about ongoing railroad track construction. One example is the Map and Profile of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. This shows the railroad track from Lynchburg to Bristol, Virginia, and highlights the technical surveys of the project in tables printed below the map. Coalfields and coal pits are shown.
In 1858, A Map of the Rail Roads of Virginia by Ludwig von Buchholtz was lithographed by Ritchie and Dunnavant, a Richmond publishing firm. The map clearly shows the railroad lines completed in the commonwealth, those in progress, and those proposed. When compared to the 1848 Internal Improvements Map of Virginia drawn by Claudius Crozet it clearly shows … read more »