2010/11 Winter Catalogue, William R. Talbot Fine Art, Antique Maps & Prints Home

2010/11 Winter Catalogue > 15. RARE 1837 LAND OFFICE MAP of MISSISSIPPI


E. Gilman [General Land Office]. “Mississippi from the Surveys in the General Land Office” (Washington, D.C.: Office of the Surveyor General, 1837). Folding pocket map, engraved on copperplate with excellent bright original full and outline hand color. 29 x 18 1/2" at neat line. Sheet: 30 x 19 1/2." Folds into roan leather cover with embossed gilt titling on front. Some age toning. Overall very good to fine for this fragile and rare item.


We have not seen another map like this on the market. It is an extremely rare early grid map of Mississippi showing the survey of the state mandated by the federal Land Ordinance of 1785 and carried out by the General Land Office, which was created by Congress in 1812. Along with the creation of the GLO, a new method of surveying was employed, using the rectangular system whereby the land was partitioned into township and range, with 36 parcels per township. Each township was 6 miles square and based on a series of principal meridians and baselines running across the land. Only thirty states, known as the Public Land states, were surveyed using the rectangular system. Mississippi was one of the thirty and the survey system is well illustrated on the present map.

The map was likely created for prospective developers, as the U.S. Land Office during this period (1833–40) was charged with selling off Indian lands after the removal of the Choctaws. In 1830, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek ceded all Choctow territory east of the Mississippi River to the U.S. Government, making the Choctaw the first tribe removed under the auspices of the Indian Removal Act. The Choctaw boundary is noted on the map, as is the “Choctaw cession of 1830.”

The map is presented on a scale of 12 miles to an inch and shows river systems, drainage features, and township and range numbers. Only five towns are named, including Jackson and Augusta. The state is divided into six color-coded districts based upon the location of government land offices (Pontotoc, Chocchuma, Columbus, Choctaw, Washington, and Augusta), which roughly correspond to the five geographical regions into which the state is divided today: the Hill, Delta, Pines, Capital River, and Coastal regions. This is an outstanding and rare document of early land distribution and Indian removal in Mississippi. The map is beautifully colored and in remarkable condition.

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