McElfresh Maps to be Exhibited at the Cattaraugus County Museum and Research Library

A gettysburg Map in Progress
A Gettysburg Map in Progress

Olean, NY—June 2, 2019–McElfresh Map Company LLC of Olean, NY is delighted to announce that a number of the company’s original hand-drawn manuscript maps will be on display at an exhibit at the Cattaraugus County Museum and Research Library in Machias, New York. The exhibit will open June 8, 2019, with a presentation by Earl McElfresh at 1 p.m.

The exhibit, Mapmaker: The work of Earl McElfresh and the McElfresh Map Company will feature a wide selection of maps including the two part Gettysburg Map, the three part D-Day Map, the Little Big Horn Map and Pearl Harbor Map among others.

Mr. McElfresh said, ‘It will be wonderful to see these maps on display. Each map was a daily companion for months and months as it sat on my desk as a work in progress. But as soon as a map was completed it got shipped off for publication and thereafter the manuscript map was shelved away. I never really had a chance to look at or appreciate the original map again.”

Origins of the Company and Breakthrough Developments

Mr. McElfresh’s presentation will describe the origins of the map company, where his interest in mapping came from and a little background information on some of the displayed maps. It will include a description of the resources that were used to accurately and dramatically replicate the landscapes where armies met, fought and made history.

“As I completed the maps, I made careful notes of my process including the resources that I relied on for accurate data. I also detailed the efforts our company made in selling and distributing the maps,” Mr. McElfresh said. “Reading over my notes to prepare for this talk has been very intriguing and rather impressive to recall the consistent collaborative efforts and commitment my wife, Michiko, and I made to establish our map company as a viable business.”

Transatlantic Ocean Crossing Influences Mapping Interest

Incidentally, this map exhibit coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of a transatlantic ocean crossing that Mr. McElfresh and his family made on a 40 foot sailing ketch. His father, a US Navy PT Boat skipper in the Pacific during WWII, navigated the yacht Tammy Norie relying on essentially the same technology that Columbus used on his voyage: a sexton, the sun and the night stars. The trip that started in Woodbridge, Suffolk, England, took the Tammy Norie to Madeira across the Atlantic to Bermuda and then to the vessel’s home port in Essex, CT. Mr. McElfresh attributes some of his interest in maps to that experience and this voyage.

Biographical Information


As cartographer for McElfresh Map Company, Earl B. McElfresh prepares historical base maps. He is the author of Maps and Mapmakers of the Civil War (Abrams, 1999) and contributing editor for the 2007 edition of Company Commander by Charles B. McDonald. He prepared maps for Library of America’s four volume Civil War set and for Lincoln’s Lieutenants by Stephen Sears.

The United States’ pre-eminent historians including Shelby Foote, Stephen Sears and James B. McPherson have acclaimed Mr. McElfresh’s maps. During its 26 years in business, the company has sold well over a quarter of million maps. Mr. McElfresh has given presentations on Civil War mapping at a number of venues including The Smithsonian, The National Archives, The Library of Congress, The New York Public Library, The Harvard Map Collection, The Warburg Institute in London, National Geographic and on C-Span Book TV. A number of his maps were previously on display at the Quick Arts Center at St. Bonaventure University.

He and his wife live in Olean, New York and are the parents of three adult children.


Booing for Bob

On November 6, 1965, Marsha Houghton, Joe LeRoy, (those two were going steady–Marcia had Joe’s ring, an engraving of a knight’s head, with wads of tape so it fit Marsha’s finger) Debbie Moss (on whom I had a mad crush–she was the nicest beautiful girl–she was actually stopped on Fifth Ave. in NY while walking with her mother and recruited for a jewelry ad that subsequently appeared in The New Yorker magazine), Dr. Moss and I set off for Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo. We kids were attending a Bob Dylan concert. I would say in retrospect that Marcia and I were the real Bob Dylan fans. We had the albums, we had the posters, we knew the songs and all the lyrics. Joe and Debbie came because it would be fun to attend a concert. Tickets–I checked on this–were $4.

Joe LeRoy told some really funny jokes enroute. To this day, almost 50 years later, they are the only jokes I can ever remember.

We stopped for dinner at Howard Johnsons. I had chicken pot pie. I don’t recall what my dining companions. It must have been a Saturday night because otherwise, Catholics were still forbidden to eat meat on Friday.

We had decent seats at the concert and Kleinhans was not some huge theater.

Bob Dylan walked out alone on the stage. As I recall, he stood in front of a closed curtain. A tall stool stood next to the mike stand. Dylan’s different harmonicas were parked there.

Dylan didn’t say much of anything and he hardly moved at all. I think he swayed a bit is all. He sang and played. I don’t know that he even introduced the songs. The crowd was respectful and appreciative.

There was an intermission.

Then things got interesting.

When the curtain opened, Bob Dylan had a backing band. They were an anonymous group to this audience but they had a name then, The Hawks, and they had a big name, The Band.

I cannot recollect the songs performed that night or the order in which they were played. But as soon as the amplified set began, a significant number of audience members began to boo and chant. A girl fairly close behind us clanked a cowbell in disapproval. Cowbells seemed to be the weapon of choice. I wonder now how they got in to the hall with them. They were pretty big. They normally made a lonely, wavery pasture sound, something between a bong and a clunk. But they are very disruptive when struck with a drumstick.

It seemed unbelievable to us that anyone would want to drown out the sound of a concert they had paid $4 to see. And the protestors had the fans who supported Dylan’s crossover act calling out “Hurray for Bob Dylan!  Hurray for Bob Dylan!”

The four of us, being 14 or 15, were nonplussed to be swamped with audience issues while trying to hear Bob Dylan.

The  Scorese Dylan documentary No Direction Home relays our Nov. 65 concert experience but with an English accent. Those were peculiar times and Bob Dylan is not at all pleasant and seems completely inarticulate but I will say he shines in comparison to Pete Seeger.

C-Span Book TV Presentation

On Thursday, December 2,1999 C-Span Book TV videotaped a presentation by our cartographer, Earl McElfresh to the Huntington (Long Island) Civil War Round Table at The Book Revue, an independent bookstore.  The talk was attended by approximately one hundred people.  The presentation was a little over an hour with a question and answer period.  On the C-span website we were able to make a short four-minute clip about Jed Hotchkiss.  Please follow this link if you wish to see it:

C-span Clip

If you would like to see the entire presentation, please follow this link:

C-Span Entire Mapping Presentation