Barnstable County Tax Map
In the 1850s, Massachusetts met the federal government’s requirement to keep a public record of property ownership by making county tax maps—designed as wall maps with rods along the tops and bottoms—that included the names of all property owners. Henry F. Walling, the cartographer behind the map opposite, produced a large number of historic New England maps through his map and printing business. Walling and his ilk would sell advertising spots on their maps to local businesses; each business received a copy of the map and was included in the map’s list of businesses. This specific copy of the tax map, which Zaremba and Jeanloz bought from a church in Yarmouth, has a noteworthy history of its own. “It was actually a gift from Henry Walling to the head of the Coast and Geodetic Survey, which was the major federal agency making charts,” Zaremba says. “There’s a little dedication at the bottom that says, ‘Professor AD Bach Superintendent of US Coast Survey with the Compliments of H F Walling.’”
Made in 1858, this map captures a physical landscape that has changed over the years. The most obvious difference is the absence of the Cape Cod Canal, which was constructed more than 50 years after the map was printed. Long since eroded away, Billingsgate Island is shown off the coast of Wellfleet, complete with its lighthouse. The railroad stops in Barnstable Village, though it was later built to run all the way to Provincetown. The map also features engravings of landscapes, town buildings, and ships as well as some of the notable shoals to aid in navigation.
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- Posted in History