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Maps and images can provide an immense amount of historical information, from property boundaries and place names to land ownership and “improvements” such as houses, barns and fences. Settlement patterns, roadways and other forms of communication and travel, and the characteristic signs of evolving communities like churches, schoolhouses and burying grounds are often recorded on maps and captured in sketches and photographic images. While Long Island was mapped by cartographers beginning in the early 17th century, Southampton was not formally surveyed until 1797 when each Town was ordered to do so by an act of the New York State Legislature.
Subsequent maps of great historical value to present-day researchers include two U. S. Coast Surveys (1830s & 1850s), J. Chace Jr.’s Map of Suffolk County, L.I. (1858), Beers’ Atlas of Long Island, New York (1873), and E. Belcher Hyde’s Atlas of Long Island and Atlas of a Part of Suffolk County (1902 & 1916). In the early 20th century tax and assessor’s maps first appeared and these, notably those of the Sanborn Map Publishing Company, contain an astonishing amount of detail. At about this time historians began to produce maps that attempted to recreate patterns of early settlement based on their research. William S. Pelletreau, a former Town Clerk and noted Long Island historian, and William Donaldson Halsey, a local historian, made important contributions to this effort.
Reproduced here is a selection of Southampton Town maps. Researchers are encouraged to consult the “Links to Additional Historic Resources” for the location of other maps and images.