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A copy of “ John Fletcher Acton Mass area of his “Wheeler Lot” calculated from measurements furnished by him.  Dec 22, 1854 (includes sketch)” has been posted in the online edition of Thoreau’s Illustrated Atlas.

103

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.

Regards,

 

Allan H. Schmidt

 

allanhschmidt.wordpress.com

 

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,

 

Julien

 

Friday July 12, 2013, 1-2:30 PM, CFPL

Welcome to Workshop V, of the Thoreau Society’s 2013 Annual Conference

Thoreau’s Illustrated Atlas Project

(A continuation of my 2012 talk http://allanhschmidt2.wordpress.com/)

 

1. Thoreau’s exposure to surveying courses at Harvard (then and now)

During his initial year (1833) at Harvard College, Henry Thoreau was subjected to a “thorough course” of “Plane Trigonometry, Analytic Geometry, and Algebra with practical application to Heights and Distances, and Surveying and Navigation.”

This course on navigation is still being offered and happens now to be the longest continuously running subject-matter offered there! “It’s the most practical course you can take at Harvard,”

According to Dan Justicz ’91, alum, “You find your way by watching the movements of the sun and stars. You even construct your own navigation instruments. There’s a minimum of lecturing.”

Harvard Catalog 2013

Astronomy 2 – Celestial Navigation (2179)

Faculty of Arts and Sciences    Fall 2012-2013

Philip M. Sadler

S M T W T F S

Tuesday 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.; Tuesday 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.; Tuesday 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Tuesday 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Description: Never be lost again! Find your way on sea, land, or air by employing celestial and terrestrial techniques. Acquire expertise in using navigators’ tools (sextant, compass, and charts) while learning the steps to the celestial dance of the sun, moon, stars, and planets. This 108-year-old course (1905?) continues to rely on practical skills and collaborative problem-solving, while utilizing historical artifacts (instruments, maps, captains’ logs) and student-built devices. Culminating in a day-long cruise to practice navigation skills.

Credits: Half course

Location: Observatory A Building A-101, Observatory D Building Phillips Auditorium

2. Thoreau Surveying while living at Walden Pond (1845-1846)

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/133a.htm

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/133b.htm

map orientation

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Gleason/Map_Large.jpg

3. Thoreau visits Brister’s Spring while traveling to Walden Pond

https://aschmidt01742.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/how-could-thoreau-not-have-known-or-did-he/

4. Thoreau’s trails and t-rails to Walden Pond

https://aschmidt01742.wordpress.com/2007/11/09/how-%E2%80%9Cthoreau%E2%80%99s-t-rail%E2%80%9D-got-its-name/

5. Surveying textbooks in Thoreau’s library include 1852 edition of Charles Davies Element of Surveying

http://books.google.com/books/reader?id=nJw9AAAAYAAJ&authuser=0&printsec=frontcover&output=reader&pg=GBS.PP3

Harvard 1851 edition originally published 1830; copy in CFPL is 1852 from Thoreau’s library

6. Thoreau’s surveying work after Walden Pond

http://allanhschmidt.wordpress.com/

7. Thoreau’s Field Notes of Surveys 1849-1861

http://allanhschmidt01742.wordpress.com/

Over 100 Land building Surveying products created by Thoreau 1839-1861

1. Isaac Watt’s Woodlot

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/135.htm

3. Emerson’s Woodlot & Meadow

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/33.htm

7. Sawmill Brook

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/34.htm

8. Haverhill

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/30.htm

10. Yellow House Lot

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/129.htm

13. Daniel Shattuck Cottage

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/108.htm

32. Barns

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/80a.htm

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/80b.htm

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/80c.htm

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/80d.htm

87. Lead pipe

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/84.htm

91. 94.  John B. Moore

https://aschmidt01742.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/survey-feb081853.jpg

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/94a.htm

04/1860 John B. Moore

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_Surveys/94b.htm

05/1860 Concord River

http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/107a.htm

(see below)

10/1860 Multi-town

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

(see below)

8. Bronson Alcott suggests creation of an Illustrated Atlas by Thoreau according to Marcia Moss’ Catalog of Thoreau Surveys” published by the Thoreau Society as Booklet 28, Genesco New York, 1976

http://allanhschmidt1.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/mossbinder1.pdf

9. Louisa May Alcott negotiates purchase of Thoreau residence after his death

https://aschmidt01742.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/a-chronology-of-john-thoreau%E2%80%99s-yellow-house-lot-so-called-its-purchase-by-louisa-may-alcott/

10. Today’s trails to Walden Pond 

Town Forest Trail Map

 Amble Opening Invitation and Map (1)_Page_2

11. Map design for walkers today

NYC Pedestrian maps URL http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/nyregion/cant-find-north-new-york-pedestrian-maps-are-coming.html?emc=eta1

12. Thank TS (Mike Frederick) Thoreau Society and CFPL (Leslie Wilson the CFPL Special Collections Curator, & Caroline Nie, Head CFPL, Technical Services/Technology, and their staff for their resources and support.

Bio: 

Allan H. Schmidt formerly Executive Director of the Harvard Laboratory for Computer Graphics and a specialist in research, development and use of geographic information systems recently has explored the application of such technology to historical data.  He also serves as Chairman of The Mill Brook Task Force, a subcommittee of Concord’s Natural Resources Commission.

2013-05-27 # 2 Wild Calla, Everett's Meadow by Cambridge Turnpike. Concord MA JWB 2013-05-27 # 1 Wild Calla, Everett's Meadow by Cambridge Turnpike. Concord MA JWB 2013-05-27 # 1 Wild Calla, Everett's Meadow by Cambridge Turnpike. Concord MA JWB (1)

Wild Calla lilies in the Mill Brook

http://eol.org/pages/1088272/details

Wild Calla lilies currently are blooming in a tributary of the  Mill Brook along the west of side Cambridge Turnpike extending from the eastern entrance to the Concord Town Forest Trail network south toward Hawthorne Lane.

These rare native flowers are in danger of being lost due to current Cambridge Turnpike reconstruction activities and need to be recognized and protected by the Town of Concord.

J. Walter Brain made the discovery and recorded the images shown:

2013-05-27 # 4 Wild Calla, Everett's Meadow by Cambridge Turnpike. Concord MA JWB

http://allanhschmidt2.wordpress.com/

http://allanhschmidt.wordpress.com/

Thoreau worked as a professional surveyor, creating over 100 land and property surveys from 1846-1860. 

 The Concord free Public Library (CFPL) curates and provides on-line public access to digital copies of Thoreau’s original “Land and Property Surveys” and microfilm public access to images of Thoreau’s original “Field Notes of Surveys Recorded by Henry D. Thoreau (November 1849 – December 1860)” .

Thoreau’s earliest surveys on file at the CFPL are his 1846 surveys of Walden Pond’s subsurface topography. 

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

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

Thoreau’s Walden Pond work was incorporated in the map products of other surveyors of his time including H.F. Walling’s 1852 map of Concord. 

See: Walling’s map note “Walden Pond surveys, by H. D. Thoreau, Civ. Eng.”

httpeventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:1257bc79ts://collections.l

  After leaving Walden Pond Thoreau began keeping his “Field Notes of Surveys Recorded by Henry D. Thoreau (November 1849 – December 1860)”

 A the microfilm copy of Thoreau’s “Field Notes of Surveys ” is available for viewing at the CFPL.

The first entry in Thoreau’s “Field Notes of Surveys” dated November 1849 contains comments describing a survey of Isaac Watt’s Woodlot.

A derivative  copy of Thoreau’s resulting survey of “Isaac Watt’s Woodlot” appears as a 16” x 10” drawing composite of two 8” x 10” sheets rotated with North up: 

Readers are encouraged to zoom in on a copy of the original  survey by pointing and clicking on specific points on the CFPL survey image:

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

The outer perimeter consists of eleven points labeled A to L, (no J), that define a series of eleven two point edges.  The length of each edge was measured using a surveyor’s chain and recorded in units of rods and links.  The compass orientation for each edge also is shown.

In order to compute the area of Isaac Watt’s Woodlot, Thoreau identified and labeled 38 rectangular quarter acre lots within its perimeter plus 14 odd shaped lots around its periphery.

 The east corner of the survey image (lower-right, above) includes a column of values for the 14 odd shaped lots and a total value. Thoreau made a math error when summing the 14 values.

The 14 odd shaped lots on the periphery listed and numbered by Thoreau include:

92 square rods in lot # 15 (lower right)

58 square rods in lot # 01 (lower left)

70 square rods in lot # 33  (middle left)

65 square rods in lot # 18   (above lower right)

60 square rods in lot # 19+  (above #18)

60 square rods in lot # 44+  (above #19)

70 square rods in lot # 45  (upper right)

60 square rods in lot # 52  (above #45)

140 square rods in lot # 51  (left of #52

30 square rods in lot # 50  (below #51)

50 square rods in lot # 37  (below left of #50)

62 square rods in lot # 36  (left of #37)

64 square rods in lot # 35  (left of #36)

66 square rods in lot # 34  (left of #35)

Thoreau incorrectly computed the total area for those lots as 907 square rods = 5.66 acres. (160 square rods = one acre)

The correct sum of the data for the 14 odd shaped lots is 947 square rods = 5.91 acres, a difference of 40 square rods or a 0.25-acre under count by Thoreau.

Within the perimeter Thoreau also identified 38 rectangular quarter acre lots: 38/4=9.50 acres.

Grand total area = 9.50 rectangular quarter acre lots plus either 5.66 acres or 5.91 acres odd shaped lots = 15.56 or 15.41 acres, a difference of 0.25 acre.

At the end of his “Field Notes of Surveys” for Isaac Watt’s Woodlot Thoreau said:  “Surveyed 52 lots of a quarter of an acre and some cases more.”

All but one of the odd shaped lots contains more than a quarter acre.

In summary, Thoreau undercounted the total acreage of Isaac Watt’s Woodlot by 0.25 acres on his worksheet, but his survey map is correct in every respect except for his note summarizing the area of the odd shaped lots.

Thoreau said he surveyed 52 lots which is correct and the average lot size for the combined quarter acre 38 uniform shaped lots and 14 odd shaped lots equals slightly more than 15 acres, just as Thoreau described  “52 lots of a quarter of an acre and some cases more”. 

So although Thoreau’s list of odd shaped lots appears to contain an under count of 40 rods or 0.25 acre, the error as a percent of the total area is small (0.25/15= 1.7%)

 Thoreau mentions other known inaccuracies such as “Greatest error in IK & KL” which appears to be a zone edge approximation along its Virginia Road boundary across the road from Thoreau’s birthplace and current Headquarters of the Thoreau Society.

Survey # 135 can be difficult to locate on the ground today but I believe its northeast corner is at the location of Thoreau’s birthplace on Virginia Road that is also the current Headquarters of the Thoreau Society.

See below:

The survey’s western most corner that Thoreau refers to as point “A” on his sketch is at the former Headquarters of the Thoreau Society on Old Bedford Road. (Approx.)

Moss states that: “I think it was the woods back of the old Kettell place on Lexington Road.  It was divided into 52 lots and cut in 1849-50.”1

 It is not known whether Thoreau ever described the total acreage surveyed as 15.56 or 15.41 acres other than his notation “907/160=5.6” which should have been 947/160=5.9.  Thoreau’s survey drawing is accurate in locating and labeling each of the 52 lots.

Thoreau’s math error was a minor error because the final survey document is graphically correct in every respect.  Every one of the 52 woodlots is correctly described and only his intermediate summation of the area of 13 irregular lots appears to have an under count error by a quarter acre. 

As he stated, Thoreau had recorded a survey of “52 lots of a quarter of an acre and some cases more” for Isaac Watt’s Woodlot during November 1849. 

Thoreau’s mapping ability evolved over time as he gained experience, acquired new tools e.g. surveyor’s chains, transits and newly available surveying instructions. 

Thoreau’s library included a copy of Elements of surveying and navigation: with a description of the instruments and the necessary tables / by Charles Davies. New York: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1847, c1835.  Note: Multiple copies of this book are available online as a result of Google Books copying of several public libraries. 

http://www.archive.org/stream/elementsofsurvey00davi/elementsofsurvey00davi_djvu.txt

Understanding of Thoreau’s writing for any given time period will benefit from an awareness of Thoreau’s working environment as a surveyor.  Thoreau’s References to natural features of his time may be related to the location of Thoreau’s fieldwork as a surveyor and may still be relevant today.

“Isaac Watt’s woodlot” looks like part of “Bedford Levels” on Gleason’s 1906 Map of Concord at the intersection of Virginia Road and Old Bedford Road, a.k.a. “Meriams Corner”.

When locating Isaac Watt’s Woodlot remember its area is one quarter that of Walden Pond that Thoreau reported as 61 acres or 4 times the size of Isaac Watt’s woodlot (15.6/61 = .25.6%) and visible for comparison on Gleason’s 1906 map of Concord.

https://aschmidt01742.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/gleason1352.jpg

References:

1: A CATALOG OF THOREAU’S SURVEYS IN THE Concord Free Public Library (CFPL) Edited by Marcia Moss

THOREAU SOCIETY BOOKLET 28

THE THOREAU SOCIETY

GENESEO, NEW YORK

1976

 

The first entry in Thoreau’s “Field Notes of Surveys” dated November 1849 contains comments describing a survey of Isaac Watt’s Woodlot. 

 “Outlines measured with accuracy, corners being one tenth of an angle.”

Copy from CFPL microfilm:

copy of the survey may be viewed at http://www.concordlibrary.org/scollect/Thoreau_surveys/135.htm

The survey image includes a worksheet on which Thoreau listed and then incorrectly computed the total area for 14 odd shaped lots as = 907 square rods (907 /160=5.66 acres).

By my calculation the correct sum of the data for the 14 odd shaped lots listed is 947 square rods=5.91 acres, a difference of 40 square rods or a 0.25-acre under count by Thoreau.

In addition, Thoreau identified 38 uniform quarter acre lots/4=9.50 acres.

Grand total area = 9.50 uniform quarter acre lots plus either 5.66 acres or 5.91 acres odd shaped lots = 15.56 or 15.41 acres, a difference of 0.25 acre.

At the end of his “Field Notes of Surveys” for Isaac Watt’s Woodlot Thoreau said:  “Surveyed 52 lots of a quarter of an acre and some cases more.”

(All but one of the odd shaped lots was more than a quarter acre.).

 In summary, Thoreau undercounted the total acreage of Isaac Watt’s Woodlot by 0.25 acres on his worksheet, but his survey map is correct.

 Thoreau only said he surveyed 52 lots which is true and the average lot size for the combined quarter acre 38 uniform shaped lots and 14 odd shaped lots equals slightly more than 15 acres, just as Thoreau described  “52 lots of a quarter of an acre and some cases more”. 

So although Thoreau’s table of odd shaped lots appears to contain an undercount error of 40 rods or 0.25 acre the error as a percent of the total area is small (0.25/15= 1.7%) and the map contains other known inaccuracies such as Thoreau notes that “Greatest error in IK & KL” which appears to be a zone edge approximation along its Virginia Road boundary across the road from Thoreau’s birthplace and current Headquarters of the Thoreau Society.

Nevertheless, Thoreau had recorded a survey of “52 lots of a quarter of an acre and some cases more” for Isaac Watt’s Woodlot during November 1849. 

 “V  Plan in pencil”

For more details and help locating each of the 14 odd shaped lots and 38 uniform shaped quarter acre lots covering 15.56 acres of Isaac Watt’s Woodlot see my discussion at: https://aschmidt01742.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/thoreaus-1849-survey-of-isaac-watts-woodlot/

“There are three stages of scientific discovery: first people deny it is true; then they deny it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.”
— Alexander Von Humboldt

http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/303739.Alexander_Von_Humboldt