Exploring a Large 1855 Map of Windsor County

Enormous Amount of Upper Valley Information from 1855

     I woke up with anticipation.  My neighbor, Ned had mentioned to me that he had some antique maps I might be interested in, and we arranged that I would meet him and take a look.  I drove over to Hanover, and parked a couple blocks away, and then took a brisk stroll over to the realty office.

Coldwell Banker Lifestyles Office in Hanover, NH

The wind had been howling for more than a day, and even though it was sunny and twenty degrees out, it was frigid with the wind.  I was glad when I got to the warm office, and Ned greeted me with a warm smile.  After gazing at the beautiful post and beam work in the rear of the building, we went down to the "Map Room". 

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Ned showed me three maps.   They were county maps from the mid-19thh century;  big, ornate and beautiful.  There were maps of Windsor County, Vermont, and Grafton and Cheshire Counties of New Hampshire.  Each map was at least three or four feet wide and tall, framed under glass and mounted on three of the four walls.  I was enthralled.  They were just fascinating to me. 

Title of the Windsor County Map of 1855

There was so much information displayed so carefully, and artistically.  They were real works of art and science combined.  I brought my camera and took lots of photos. First I started with the Windsor County Map, dated 1855.  Because the maps were so large, and difficult to photograph in their entirety without glare, I focused at first on the smaller maps of towns and villages, which were displayed between the large map, and the borders.  Here's what White River Junction looked like:

White River Junction, VT 1855

WRJ close-up

In the close-up of White River Junction, we can see the prominence of the Railroad and the railroad bridge over the White River to the north bank, near Lyman Point.  Elias Lyman III used to run a flat boat business from that point, shipping freight down the Connecticut River to Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Just up the road was "White River Village" as it was known in 1855.  Today we know it as Hartford Village.

White River Village, now known as Hartford Village

One thing I love about these maps is that because they are so large, they are able to display the proprieters' names of residences and businesses.  The buildings are displayed by small black squares or silhouettes of larger buildings.

 Bridge over White River at White River Village (Hartford Village).

In the close-up above, we can see that there was a Plaster Mill near the south bank of the White River.  Also on the south bank, we see a Store, two Boarding Houses, and a the Braley and Co. Fork Factory.  There is also a Depot on the south side of the railroad tracks.  On the north bank we see a Saw Mill, a Grist Mill, and a Carriage S--- (Shop or Shed?).  There was a lot of business along the river and near the railroad tracks back then. 



Quechee Village

In this close-up of Quechee, we can see that there was a Saw Mill (SM) and a Grist Mill(GM), on either side of the Ottaquechee River, near the covered bridge, where Simon Pearce Restaurant is today.  Also seen are the Cong. Church, Mullary Woolen Co.and the Union Store.

Norwich, VT, back when it housed the Norwich University which subsequently moved to Northfield, VT.  Today the Marion Cross Elementary School is located there.

Church St. Norwich VT

Elm St. Norwich VT.  Note the Cabinet Shop, Saw Mill, and Tannery by Bloody Brook.  There's another Cabinet Shop on the north side of Elm St.

Main and Mechanic Streets, Hopson and Beaver Meadow.  A Harness SHop, Union Store, J.S. Gordon's Store, Olds' Store, are all on Main St. The home of C.Tracy is seen where Tray Hall now stands.

Beaver Meadow area or West Norwich

Beaver Meadow, Sharon VT, and Qumby Mountain area, before Mitchell Brook was dammed to build Lake Mitchell for the Trout Club.

Sharon, VT 1855

In the above map, we see that there was a Wheelwright, a Bobbin Shop, a couple Stores, a Doctor, and the Morrels Hotel in Sharon VT in 1855.  And the Vermont Central railroad line is noticeable as well.

Royalton, VT 1855

Royalton had a Jeweler's Shop and a Saddler's Shop, a Union store, Hotel and Post Office. 

Bethel, VT 1855

Bethel had a Tin Shop and a Bank, Dr. Page, a Depot, a Hotel, and a couple Stores.

East Bethel, VT 1855

East Bethel also had a Tin Shop, and a Hotel, a Sawmill, and a Carriage Shop.

Rochester, VT 1855

Rochester had a Tannery, a Carriage Shop and the H. Cheney Hotel.  How many other businesses can you spot?

Gaysville, VT 1855

Above, We can see that Gaysville, was a busy place in the mid-1800's.  On the map above, we can see two Boarding Houses, a Tub Factory, Trunk and Harness shop, Wood shop, a Woolen Mill, a Hotel, and the R.E. Fay store.

Barnard, VT 1855

Silver Lake in Barnard was formerly known as "Barnard Pond".

A tannery, The French Hotel and a couple stores were not far from Barnard Pond, now known as Silver Lake.

Woodstock, VT 1855

It looks like Woodstock VT has always been a very busy place!

Here is Windsor:

and a close-up of Windsor showing the Railroad depot, now the site of Windsor Station Restaurant.

Close-up of Windsor, VT, showing the Railroad Depot

Windsor Common

Sheddsville in the Township of Windsor

Some of the Townships within the large map:

Norwich and Hartford

Interesting corner where four townships meet:  Pomfret, Sharon, Hartford and Norwich.  The Vermont Central Railroad route is shown clearly along the banks of the White River

Hartland, VT 1855

Weathersfield, VT 1855

Weathersfield Bow

Northeastern Weathersfield

Weathersfield 1855

Felchville VT

Felchville Close-Up

Perkinsville

Perkinsville close-up

A lot of action in Perkisville in 1855

Perkinsville of 1855 was a busy village!

Springfield, VT 1855

Springfield Vermont

Springfield Vermont

Many, many businesses in Springfield Vermont.

These images all provide interesting snapshots of a time long ago, when villages existed without automobiles, paved roads or electricity.  It was a time when photography was in its infancy, and the railroads were the mighty beasts of burden for commerce and transportation.

Another great feature of these historic maps is the detailed vignettes gracing the margins along with the detailed village maps.

Close-Up of  Royalton Hotel vignette

Even the decorations on the farthest edges of the margin are beautiful:

Ned told me he purchased the maps from an antique book and map dealer back around 1992.  Noting their rarity and beauty, he had them framed for his realty firm's office, where they still adorn the walls.  I'm so glad he took the time to do this, 27 years ago, and that he gave me the opportunity to photograph and explore them in 2019.

This article focuses on the 1855 Map of Windsor County.  The next article will focus on the 1858 map of Grafton County, New Hampshire, with towns such as Lebanon, Enfield, Lyme, Orford, Dorchester, Canaan, Hanover and Haverhill, New Hampshire.

You've been reading another article from "Old Roads, Rivers and Rails", written by me, Bob Totz, retired Vermont Postmaster with a love of Historical Geography and old maps.  If you like this story, feel free to subscribe to Old Roads, Rivers and Rails.  It's free, and it means you'll get an email notice when I publish an article. 

Special Thanks to Ned Redpath and the staff at Coldwell Banker Lifestyles for use of the maps.

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