Archive for October, 2013

Thoreau perambulated Concord’s 1851 boundaries as required by the Commonwealth since 1692.


In October 1, 1860 Thoreau reported the results for his  ” Measured Area of Concord, Carlisle, Lincoln, Boxborough, Acton, Littleton, Stow, Bedford”

See : http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_Surveys/23.htm

It also appears as Gleason’s zone # 23 in Thoreau’s Illustrated Atlas

See:  http://allanhschmidt.wordpress.com/page/2/

The above url begins with January 1860 surveys. 

To find the October 1 map for Thoreau’s map of Concord Town boundaries with adjacent towns the reader must scroll through the 1860 survey map set.

The above notes help explain the context of a recent inquiry:


From Juilien Negre to Allan Schmidt:


Julien NEGRE

September 30th 2013 at 08:56

Hello Allan,


I am doing some research into the history of the “perambulation” of Concord’s boundaries (in which Thoreau took part in September, 1851). I am trying to determine if it was an annual duty and when it was suspended (I am assuming it is no longer performed nowadays!). Do you have any information on the subject or could you suggest a source where I could learn more? Thank you very much!


Julien Nègre

Paris Diderot University – France


Allan Schmidt

September 30th 2013 at 15:12

Hello Julien,


Thoreau’s 1851 “perambulation” of Concord’s boundaries i.e. perform an official inspection of (a boundary) on foot was likely a one-time event that took place when the town’s boundaries were changing as Concord expanded and contracted its various parts in relation to surrounding towns.

The only reason to walk the boundary would be to inspect the physical boundary markers.

Once the boundaries had been established and mapped by Thoreau or some other surveyor each adjacent town would share a common legal description of their boundaries.

I hope this is of help to you.



Allan H. Schmidt




Julien NEGRE

Julien NEGRE

October 1st 2013 at 06:28

Allan, thank you for your answer. Actually I received an answer from the Concord Town Clerk who explained that the perambulation is still required by Massachusetts State Law and has to be performed at least every 5 years! The selectmen or their designates usually drive or hike to the markers and then send a formal letter to the neighboring towns. The procedure has been part of the law in Massachusetts since 1692 (with several amendments). A very old and fascinating history. Thank you for your help.

Best regards,



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