The Grand Hall showcases maps of western Pennsylvania and Jefferson County from pre-settlement times to present day. This exhibit was proposed by Arthur McKinley, Brookville native and collector of historical maps. We found his outlook for a map exhibit intriguing:
“Most interesting to me are the early Dutch, French and English copper engravings [maps] from the colonial period that are so often overlooked in Jefferson County history. Our area [of] Western PA comes slowly into focus on these early maps.” …the history of our area goes far before the story of the first white settler to a time when the land that is now Jefferson County was part of “New France.”
“…different parties lay claim through maps to broad territories. We see not only the English and French laying claim to Western PA but also attempts to designate the entire area West of [the] Alleghenys for the Indians.”
“Interestingly, the rugged and remote area that is now Jefferson County is one of the last blank areas to be filled in. Many of the mid to late 18th century maps only designate this unsettled area as “Buffalo Swamp” much as early navigators would demarcate unknown seas as ‘Here there be Dragons.’ It would be interesting to explore how this particular designation came about and was perpetuated. Theories abound…”
The exhibit also shows the development of Pennsylvania counties and Jefferson county townships and a number of early historic maps of Brookville.