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On August 11, 1852, Thoreau records in his Journal:

“Alcott says I should survey Concord and put down every house exactly as it stands with the name.”

In fact, Alcott kept talking about the proposed atlas and went so far as to suggest in his now famous Superintendent of Schools Report of 1860 and 1861, that Thoreau should make an illustrated Atlas for use in the community and the schools.

Unfortunately, Thoreau died before he could accomplish this, but his surveys and “Field Notes” book have been kept together in the Library and have often been used by people to identify ownership of Concord land.

Thoreau had various jobs as a surveyor such as the subdividing of woodlots and the  Ministerial lots for the sale of the wood and the privately owned lots into smaller ones for housing. Many times it was necessary for him to retrace boundaries as ancient as two hundred years old.

The earliest mention which we have of his woodlot surveying is a signed receipt from the Misses Hosmer for surveying of their woodlot and making a plan of the same dated Dec. 18, 1845. However, we do not have the survey itself. This plan was made before he started keeping his Field Notes in 1849 with the brief notes on the survey for Isaac Watt’s. They continue on up to December 1860. “

A CATALOG OF THOREAU’S SURVEYS IN THE Concord Free Public Library (CFPL) Edited byMarcia Moss

Marcia Moss’ “Catalog of Thoreau Surveys” was published by The Thoreau Society as Booklet 28, Geneseo, New York, 1976.

Marcia Moss’ Catalog is out of print but original typewritten copies are available in the Concord Free Public Library (CFPL). 

A PDF file of a CFPL copy is referenced at:
http://allanhschmidt1.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/mossbinder1.pdf

Online access to the CFPL copies of Thoreau’s Land & Property Surveys may be found at:

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/Thoreau_surveys.htm

I have added each survey’s estimated geographic location which is  sketched and labeled with it’s CFPL index # or Concord Museum map  # on Gleason’s 1906 Map of Concord.

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Gleason/Map.html

All errors are mine.

Please send suggested corrections to:

allanhschmidt@gmail.com

The earliest map from Thoreau’s map collection  in the CFPL,  Concord Museum online collections or the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass is a Plan of the Town of Lincoln in the County of Middlesex from Survey Made in 1830 by John G. Hale Fayette Street Boston [copy; n.d.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/47


Next is A Plan of the Public Lands in the State of Maine Surveyed under Instructions from the Commissioners & Agents of the State of Massachusetts and Maine…, Boston, 1835 [one section (that including Mount Katahdin) of a multi-sectional map]

This map may have been used by Thoreau to plan his three trips to the backwoods of Maine in 1846, 1853 and 1857.

165    A Plan of the Public Lands in the State of Maine Surveyed under Instructions from the Commissioners & Agents of the State of Massachusetts and Maine…, Boston, 1835 [one section (that including Mount Katahdin) of a multi-sectional map]

Thoreau’s surveys include farms with buildings, house lots, woodlots, roads, streams, ponds, machinery, etc.

The following maps illustrate in  chronological order the estimated geographic locationof Thoreau’s land and building surveys from 1846 to 1860 available online in the Concord Free Public Library (CFPL), The Concord Museum, the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass and The Morgan Museum & Library (NYC) and used with their permission.

Thoreau mentions in his journal how in early 1846 while living at Walden Pond he surveyed the Pond through the ice to map its subsurface topography.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/133a

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/133b

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/133c

Note: North is down on Thoreau’s map sketch of Walden as it is on many of his surveys.

This survey can be seen as Thoreau’s view drawn from  his Hut in the cove looking toward Walden Pond.

From this point forward all maps are shown in the order they were created by Thoreau as listed in his “Field Notes of Surveys Recorded by Henry D. Thoreau (November 1849 – December 1860”

A bold numeral preceding a comment indicates its source as a page number in Thoreau’s “Field Notes of Surveys”.

https://allanhschmidt.com/

 

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onThoreau’s Illustrated Atlas, 1849-1860, Volume 1849-1850

1. Isaac Watts Woodlot November 1849

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/135

 

For a description of Thoreau’s mathematical error of a quarter acre see my notes at:

http://aschmidt01742.wordpress.com/2011/08/23/thoreau%E2%80%99s-1849-land-survey-quarter-acre-miscalculation/

2. John Moore and John Hosmer’s Woodlots winter of 1849-

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/32

Jesse Hosmer’s Farm Spring of 1850

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/61


3. R. W. Emerson’s Woodlot and meadow by Walden Pond (that part contained within the Lincoln bounds) the woodlot being a part of what was known in 1746 as Samuel Heywood’s pasture “and deeded by his son as such to his son Jonathan Taunier (?)” Surveyed March 1850 with unusual accuracy.

 

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/33


reproduced here courtesy of, the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.

7. Cyrus Stow’s Woodlot on Sawmill Brook. March 1850

Sketched as Gleason34.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/34


8-9. Nehemiah Emerson’s Heirs a tract of land belonging to in Haverhill Mass Surveyed and divided into house lots May 1850

30 Plan of a Tract of Land Belonging to the Heirs of Nehemiah Emerson in Haverhill, Mass. … May 1850. [Note: Title amended from “Plan of a Part of the House Lot of the Hayes Farm … “]


https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/30

10. D. Shattuck’s Yellow House Lot – plan of – surveyed May 25, 1850.  Sold to J. Thoreau

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/129

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/114

 

 

11.  Plan of Court House Grounds and Adjacent Lots

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/7a

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/7d

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/108

13. Daniel Shattuck’s Cottage – House Lot surveyed June 19, 1850


15. July 31, 1850 Squared Court House cellar.  Outside ground framing 74.5 by 74.5 yards (?)

Measured the ground excavated from the Court House Cellar Aug. 15 – 16 =606 ½ cubic yards


16.   Frances Monroe & Others Piece of land near the Depot, bought by Henry Wheeler August 17, 1850.

 

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/92a


18. West Burying Ground at request of John Keyes – to find two sides – by measuring the lines of the old Brand place on the west.  August 30, 1850

 

20. Francis Monroe and others New Road To Depot through a lot described on page 16 August 1850

24.  Buildings – Academy, Little house, W’s Yellow house

25. W’s Barn, brick shop, Fay’s house, additions, barn, shop, Connant’s barn, NE barn, SW shed, Brooks hog pen, shed, Brook’s fence, hog pen, Berryman’s house shop adjacent.


26. – 27. Contd. F. Monroe & Others – Contemplated Roads, 2 alternatives

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/92b


28. – 29. R. W. Emerson’s Woodlot October 28, 1850.  HT compares his survey plan to that of and an earlier plan by Hubbard and concludes his (HT) to be more accurate in Bartlett’s favor.


30. Nathan Brooks Esq. Woodlot sold by Cyrus Stow.  Found bounds November 1, 1850.

N.B. the surveys were marked without back-tracking but were tolerably accurate”.

 

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/120


31. Cyrus Stow Plotted off the last mentioned wood lot for. Nov. 14, 1850


31. Contd. Cyrus Hubbard, street near of Acton.  Surveyed a portion of a road between Acton Center and North Acton and made a plan of same. November 27, 1850

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/163



32. – 33. James Barrett Wood Surveyed a woodlot for, near the copper mines in the south part of Carlisle. Nov. 30, 1850

34. David Loring Drew a plan of the barn for. To be built in Northboro. Dec. 16, 1850

 

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/80a

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/80b

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/80c

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/80d

t

34 Contd. New Court House Measured stonework of Dec. 31, 1850 Foundation and cellar l 178.77 benches? Of 25 cubic feet each.

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Thoreau’s Illustrated Atlas, 1849-1860, Volume 1851

35. Daniel Shattuck, new house measured plastering, 970 yards, 1shilling/yard including lathing Jan. 7, 1851

36. John Hosmer bounds of woodlot Feb. 5, 1851

37. Estimation? Of compass as observed Feb. 7, 1851 at 9 AM (this after having been estimated at 9:30 the evening before) = 9 5/8 degree W

38. True Meridian described

True Meridian (by HT)


For a detailed description of how Thoreau measured the angular correction required between magnetic and geodetic north, see the discussion in chapter six of “Thoreau The Land Surveyor” by Patrick Chura.http://www.upf.com/book.asp?id=CHURA001

Found the direction of the Pole Star with greatest Western elongation (1 degree 58½’)? At 9h, 26m PM!  Feb 7th 1851.

It coincides with a line drawn from the SE corner of the stone post on the E side of our west most front gate, to the S side of the first door on the W side of the depot.

Between 4 and 5 o’clock the next day, I found the above line again by my compass,

N 7 7/8-E      hence var. of my compass 1 degree 58 ½’ = approx 9 7/8 degree – W

Says Mag. north var equals 9 7/8 degree    12 M 17 s

39, 40, 41. White Pond Feb. 17, 1851

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/148

42. Cyrus Stowe’s Swamp lot surveyed Feb. 20 & 27, 1851

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/122

43. Cyrus Stow’s Woodlot in the East Part of Concord Mass on Pine Hill, Feb. 27 to March 3, 1851 in the rearof Joseph Merriam’s house beginning at the southwest corner

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/121a

45. Plan of Land Owned by James McCafferty, in the East Part of Concord, Mass. … March & April 1851 Three lots of land.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/85a

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/85b


48. Timothy Brooks heirs list of house & fields Mar. 6, 13, 14, 15, 21, 22 and 25, 1851

49. Francis Monroe et al new street across the RR land beginning at SE post of porch of depot

50. Thomas Lord Surveyed land for the factory Apr. 12, 1851

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/78

52. Tillage on Factory road adjacent land

53. Cyrus Stowe Land and a new street and house lots for the Back Road Apr. 19, 1851

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/123

54. County Commissioners-Plan series of monument & Burying ground tracts opposite court house ground Apr. 29, 1851

55. 65a Plan of a Road (a continuation of another road,) Leading from Land of Luther Hosmer, Near the Road to Sudbury, Through Land of James P. Brown, to the Marlboro Road, at Land of Thomas Wheeler … May 3, 1851

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/65a


57. Court House & Town House – Difference bottom of Court House and the Court House fence

58. West Center School House May 24, 1851

59. Mrs. Barber – Found boundary line is near ground tangent?? Jun 2, 1851

Cont’d. James Wood Sr? Measured field for fence (sold to C. D. Brown)

60. Cont’d. w/ sketch

61. State of Mass – Roads from J. Hapgood’s House to Center of Acton Jun 17, 1851

Edmund Hosmer’s Farm in Concord Mass. … June 17, 18, & 21, 1851

60a  Plan of Edmund Hosmer’s Farm in Concord Mass. … June 17, 18, & 21, 1851

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/60a

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/60c

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/60b

F. R. Cyrangus? Run line between him & ? According to a plan by Macbrand. Beginning on Lincoln Rd at the point in dispute between Cyrangus & how Jun 28, 1851

69. Acton/Concord Town Line …Sept. 15, 1851 Reestablished the line between Concord and Acton from a Pilot’s stone near railroad way and another near the Powder Mills etc, etc for a total of nine stones.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/1


77. Reuben Brown – Surveyed part of woodlot on Fairhaven Hill Oct 22 and 23, 1851

(The spring roads bought of Abel Heywood).  Beginning 205 chains westerly of westernmost angle. (listing of survey points)

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/14a

79. Cyrus & Arthur Mow Oct 28, 1851 2PM S 48 3/8 W 29.14 chains from a point on the road 8 rods NW of the old Peter Wheeler hall to Coburn’s Corner, F1 survey on C. Norris’ land.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/125a

80. Trustees of the Ministerial Land Surveyed Ministerial Lot in SW part of Concord November 14 and 25, 1851
81. Town of Concord a line between Concord and Carlisle Dec 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, & 13,1851

Samuel Barrett surveyed land lot Dec 6 1851 He selling the wood to Geo. Brooks. Surveyed with a view of surveying the whole written time.  Area sold 6A 18P.  The SW corner not calculated.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/89

Surveyed land lot Dec 6 1851 He selling the wood to Geo. Brooks. Surveyed with a view of surveying the whole written time.  Area sold 6A 18P.  The SW corner not calculated.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/5

83. Samuel Barrett s


Trustees of the Ministerial Fund lotted off Miner’s Tenue Loehm SE part Concord

Dec 8 & 9 1851

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/80a



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Thoreau’s Illustrated Atlas, 1849-1860, Volume 1852

84. Jacob Baker Lincoln, Surveyed Land near Flint’s Pond Apr 23, 1852 

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/3

85. W. E Channing surveyed house lot Apr 26, 1852

86. J. B. Mackey surveyed house lot May 25, 1852 var at 9 ½ AM 9-¾ degree bearings corrected.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/86

Noah and Rebecca Brooks farm May 26, 1852

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/11


[Land Near Depot (Loring, Wheeler, etc.)], June 21, [18]52

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/81a

B and Loring Land for house lots near depot Jun 1852

 https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/81b

87. Daniel Weston Surveyed piece of Flint’s Pond  Aug 17, 1852

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/136


George Loring Mead Plan for a lead pipe machine Sep 15, 1852

James F Chafrin surveyed two pieces of woodlot in Lincoln Oct 1, 1852 sold for taxes to Frances Westhall

First piece belonging to K Rice heirs of Lincoln

88. Second piece belonging to Charles Bartlett

Containing two acres

Surveyed one acre for Cyrus Stowe of Raymond? Oct 19, 1852

89. Mrs. Badger Surveyed land around three children’s cottages Oct 28, 1852

John Reynolds Surveyed house lot on the Lowell Road Nov 3, 1852

90. Daniel Weston, Surveyed Land on Flint’s Pond.Dec.10 & 13, 1852

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/137

 

Courtesy of the Concord Museum

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Thoreau’s Illustrated Atlas, 1849-1860, Volume 1853

91. John B. Moore, surveyed farm for Feb. 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19 ‘53

Thoreau recorded the variation on February 3rd, 1853, as being 9⅞° westerly; when Albert Wood resurveyed portions of Moore’s farm in 1886, he found the variation to have changed by 1½° (although he did not specify whether the change was easterly or westerly).

Reproduced here courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.

A draft version of  Thoreau’s plans of Moore’s property can be consulted on the Concord Free Public Library’s website (map 94a-c in the collection of Thoreau’s surveys and maps).

Cyrus Benjamin, Measured planting of all crops near house in Lincoln for February 21st ‘53

 

 

92. Loring D. auction? Surveyed a strip of land in Lincoln for building barn fence? March 31, 1853

93. For Duncan (?) in Haverhill April 12 to 29, 1853

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/26a

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/26b

 

94.  John Reynolds Surveyed land near Potter for lots.  May 17, 1853

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/99a

 

John B.Moore Surveyed land and buildings. June 28, 1853

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/94a

County – Surveyed Bedford Road. For July 1853.

John Stacy, Wood lot “Framingham” August 30, 1853


95. A. Tuttle, Surveyed farm for, August 26 and 27, 1853.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/131


Middlesex County surveyed a new Bedford Road for.  September 8, 9, and 10.
J. B. Moore surveyed land to A. B. Alcott for. Sep 22, ‘53

Charles Gordon of Littleton Buttrick surveyed woodlot for. Nov 9, ‘53

97. Thomas F. Hunt House Lot surveyed October 17, 1853

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/72

98.  Heir of John Richardson, Lotted off a woodlot for, in Lincoln, Nov 12, ‘53
Plan of Land in Lincoln Mass., Belonging to Daniel Weston … Dec. 17, [18]53

From Wheeler to J P Brown, surveyed land for, Dec 19 & 21, ‘53

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/13

 


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Thoreau’s Illustrated Atlas, 1849-1860, Volume 1854


99.  O. Berryman in E part of Lincoln took level of farms Jan 17 ‘54

100. John Reynolds, surveyed his premises March 17’ 54

. https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/99b


Abel Hosmer, surveyed woodlot in Acton for, April 4, ‘54

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/58a

Samuel Hoar, surveyed woodlot in Concord and Carlisle for, Apr 5 ’54

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/54

Schulyer Parks – surveyed woodlot for in Lincoln, Apr 12 ‘54

101. Ephraim W. Bull Ran two lines for between the barn and the main house on the S side of the road. Apr 14, ‘54

David Loring – Surveyed land at back front house for, May ‘54

Plan of Factory Quarter surveyed. Land for grouping of buildings?

Beginning on Stow Road

102. Byron Pierce, Lincoln, surveyed house lot for. Aug 31, ’54.

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/45


Col. Holbrook, surveyed woodlot on farm in Concord?. Sep. 11, ‘54

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/110

Agricultural Society, Laid out plowing match ground for.  Forty lands 21/2 x 8 rods

Sep 27, ‘54

103. John Fletcher Acton Mass area of his “Wheeler Lot” calculated from measurements furnished by him.  Dec 22, 1854 (includes sketch)

John Fletcher Wheeler's Lot

John Fletcher Wheeler’s Lot

107. B. M. Watson, Plymouth, surveyed and made plans of his place.  Oct 9 – 13, ‘54

R.W.E. found some bounds of his Lincoln woodlot and my plans of it together.

Nov 3 & 6, ‘54

John Horn, surveyed woodlot for Colburn Farm and copied Habrahands? Nov 4 & 6, ‘54

Tilly Holden, surveyed woodlot for, on north meadow, Dec 9, ‘54

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Thoreau’s Illustrated Atlas, 1849-1860, Volume 1855
108. Plan of Land Sold by E.Hosmer to R.W. Emerson, dated June 6, 1855.
“Courtesy of the Concord Museum

Augustus Tuttle surveyed woodlot near Flints pond.  Jun 21, ‘55

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/32a

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/32b


109. Geo Brooks surveyed and made plans of collier and long North premises Oct 31, ’55

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/88a

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/88c

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/88b

https://concordlibrary.org/special-collections/thoreau-surveys/88d


Geo. Brooks surveyed road at East Quarter School house Nov 9, ‘55
J. B. Moore surveyed land on Bedford Road sold to an Irishman Nov 24, ‘55

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