The Panoramic Maps of Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler

Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler
Recognized as one of the nation's most prolific panoramic mapmakers of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, Thaddeus Mortimer Fowler was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on December 21, 1842. When the first call for military volunteers went out at the onset of the Civil War, Fowler, then in Buffalo, was turned down because he was underage. He subsequently enlisted in the 21st Regiment of the New York Infantry at Elmira, New York, in 1861.

Wounded in the ankle the following year at the Second Battle of Bull Run in Manassas, Virginia, Fowler refused the amputation of his foot and was honorably discharged in Boston in 1863. He made a living traveling to army camps making tintype photographs of soldiers, but later moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he worked for his uncle, J.M. Fowler, a photographer, and it was here that he produced his first panoramic map—a view of the town of Omro. This was followed by several more for other Wisconsin towns.

Fowler moved to North Jersey around 1880, then to Pennsylvania, and later to Trenton, New Jersey. In 1885, he moved his family across the river to Morrisville, Pennsylvania, where for nearly 40 years he made his home. It was during this time that he produced hundreds of maps, but which necessitated frequent travels away from home to generate business. On one such trip to Middletown, New York, he suffered a heart attack and died after falling on an icy street on March 17, 1922, at the age of 79.

He is interred in Section W, Lot 811S½-812.

During his career, he is known to have produced 411 panoramic maps in 21 states and Canada. The Library of Congress maintains an extensive collection of his works, and they comprise the largest number of panoramic maps in their entire collection, including this one, the Properties of the Delaware River Improvement Company on Morrisville Island, Pa., opposite Trenton, N.J.

Properties of the Delaware River Improvement Company
on Morrisville Island, Pa., opposite Trenton, N.J.

Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

Where In The World Is New Jersey? Historical Maps of The Garden State, an exhibition at the New Jersey State Museum includes the work of Fowler and other mapmakers from the collections of the New Jersey State Archives, New Jersey State Library, New Jersey State Museum, and Special Collections and University Archives at Rutgers University. It opened September 7 and will be on view through February 23, 2014.

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