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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rea and Price 1849 Map

I recently ran across something on the interwebs that was just too cool not to pass along -- at least in my own odd sense of the word "cool". A while back, I did a post about the 1868 Beers map, which is probably the historical map I use the most in my research. Besides the fact that it's a very fine map (and colorful, too!), one of the reasons I use it so much is the simple fact that I have all of it in one place. For all the other maps, I only had various bits and pieces of them culled from different places -- some totalling more or less the entire area, some with gaps. Now, however, I've found a full version of my second favorite map, the 1849 Rea and Price map.

I don't know when they put it up, but sometime recently the New Castle Community History and Archaeology Program  (NC-CHAP) posted a full-sized, high resolution, zoomable version of the map. You can find this version here. To be honest, since even the best copies I had seen of the map were in black and white, I didn't even know that the original was in color. It's actually a beautiful map, in its own way.

Like the 1868 Beers map, this one also shows the locations of the major landowners' houses, which is certainly the most useful feature of these maps. Additionally, it shows other points of interest, like schools, churches, mills, inns, and even a few stores. And of course, this one is a generation earlier than the Beers map. The version on the NC-CHAP site is fabulous in that it's complete (the whole county), a high resolution scan, and zoomable.

Besides showing all the hundreds of New Castle County, the map also has an inset of Wilmington. One interesting note about the Wilmington inset ties in with a point raised recently in comments about the NCC Bus Route Map. If you look on the west side of the city, there is a little section called Washington Village that sits on the south side of Delaware Avenue. This was a proposed housing tract that was talked about for years, but ultimately never built. Including it on this map seems to have been a bit of wishful thinking.

All in all, I don't really have much else to say about the map, except that this is a fantastic version of the oldest detailed map of MCH (there's an 1820 map that I've seen, but it contains only a fraction of the information of this one). My gratitude goes to NC-CHAP for making this map available -- I've already wasted spent lots of time wandering through it. And if you're interested in any aspect of the history of Old New Castle, check out their site. There's a lot good stuff there.

Additional Facts and Related Thoughts:
  • I think "zoomable" is now my new favorite word
  • The red squares around the schools were done by NC-CHAP, and were not part of the original map.
  • If you look in the upper righthand corner of the map, there's a table with demographic information broken down by hundred, as well as a key to some of the abbreviations used on the map.


  1. Nice map and a really cool web site. Some really interesting photos. I will have to set some time aside to go through the entire site.

    Thanks Scott

  2. That's quite a map! That sure looks like a mill race that runs along Mill Creek from north of Limestone Road past the Harlan mill at Milltown , then past the Oliver Grist Mill where St James Church Road crossed the creek, then eventually winding along Telegraph Road. If so, that's a couple miles of hand-dug mill race. Any other opinions on that squiggly line? KC.

  3. I think what we have here is just a not particularly 100% accurately drawn map. I agree that it makes it look like one very long race, but its actually three separate ones. The race for the Oliver mill (later the Lindell's Locust grove farm) started just above where the Harlan's race dumped back into Mill Creek.

    For the last race (powering the mill west of Stanton), there are two possibilities. Later maps show that one starting further south, just west of St. James Church. Either the 1849 map is wrong, or the race was modified and shortened sometime between 1849 and 1868.

    Having said that, the idea of a race passing over another stream or creek is not far-fetched. In fact, the long race that went from south of Kiamensi to the mill behind Stanton passed over Calf Run near where it empties into Red Clay.

  4. Thanks for the map,. I've been interested in locating the mill race for the Harlan mill as it is probably ran very close to my In-law's backyard. I will have to go searching for traces of it this autumn now that I have an idea were it may have run..

  5. Good point, Scott. Aqueducts were used quite a bit on the canals that were built in the early 1800s. Per Bill's comment, is there any public access to the creek between Limestone Acres and Lindell Village? I'd like to see if there are any bridge supports or remnants of Oliver's Mill, but was told there is no access via the swim club behind Kirkwood Auto.KC.

  6. KC, are you familiar with Google Earth? When you look at historical maps, open Google Earth at the same location and at a similar scale. Use the Feb 2007 images for the best ground features. You will get a rough idea of what might remain and what has been obliterated; sometimes you'll get lucky and see a particular feature you are looking for. The third map you should have open is nccde.org/parcelview, which is the current tax/property map for the county. Good hunting!

    Sometimes a small tributary would simply be dammed and become part of the mill race; I think I have seen this on Middle Run.

  7. KC-

    You are right, there is no real access to Mill Creek from Old St. James Church Road- the area behind Oakwood Valley Club is swampy and heavily wooded. While not a truly public access, you could get to this section via the open land in Limestone Acres. There is a field on Bailey drive they opens up to Mill Creek and you could follow the creek from their (that is my plan). I guess that technically this is trespassing, but I would think that if one was quiet and respectful of private property there should be no problems.

    I have been told that there are some old bridge supports for Old St. James Church Road in the creek, but I have never been down there to verify it.

  8. Walt, Bill-
    Sounds like I'd be best served by using Google Earth, etc to do this searching. Fifty years ago, my mother would blast me for coming through the back door with muddy shoes (usually after a misstep while crossing Calf Run). I doubt my wife would be any kinder!KC.

  9. KC-

    You didn't use one of the bridges across Calf Run?! No wonder you mother got upset!

    I have lots of great memories of Calf Run. Of course, we didn't know it had a name, we just called it "the Creek". Seems like I spent almost every other summer day down there, catching minnows, playing baseball, exploring the creek banks.

    Anyone remember the NCC summer camp program at Calf Run Park?

  10. As a 10 year old, I wouldn't have considered using a bridge if there was a wobbly rock or two in mid-stream! That was likely my downfall (pardon the pun).With that, I'll move this conversation to the nostalgia forum.KC.

  11. Scott, I would like to print this map - I tried on the LOC website but it doesn't print correctly. Do you know of a better way? My husband's family owned the Colonial Inn which was down the street from the current Jackson Inn near Wilmington. I would like it as a gift to the family.

    1. I wish I had a good answer for you. Are you trying to print the whole thing, or just the area around Lancaster Pike/Christiana Hundred? The original map is almost 4 feet tall, so it would be tough to print the whole thing legibly on a smaller sheet. If you just want part, I'd suggest maybe going to the full-screen version of the zoomable map and screen-shoting the part you want. In what way was it not printing right from the LOC site? Looks like you can d/l pretty big files from there. Unless that's what you did and maybe the printer is having problems with it.

  12. Scott, thank you for your reply. I did download the LOC file in full resolution, I just cropped it the wrong way. I did it again and got a great, clear shot of just the top one third of the map. It looks awesome and the family will love it - thank you, cathy