Map Wars III: A disturbance in the force…caused by a bizarre map of NC

In a previous post, we discussed Wellington Williams’s publication in 1854 of a (not so) new map of North Carolina, printed from the resurrected copper plates of the 1833 MacRae-Brazier map. Those plates had more lives than a cat. Their next reincarnation resulted in one of the strangest North Carolina maps ever published. That is the topic of this North Carolina Map Blog post. Continue reading

Cartographic winds of change

We’ll return to the Map Wars series in a few weeks. In the meantime, please enjoy this tidbit.  Fielding Lucas, Jr., was one of the great American map publishers of the early 19th century. Not only did he compile and publish his own atlases, he also drew maps for other publishers. One example of the latter is a Geographical, Historical, And Statistical Map Of North Carolina, published in 1822-1827 atlases by Carey & Lea, shown here…
Continue reading

History and Reestablishment of the NC-SC Boundary: June 23

Gary W. Thompson, Chairman of the North Carolina Boundary Commission, will be speaking at the Friends of the Archives annual meeting in Raleigh on Monday, June 23, 2014 at 1:30 p.m. The presentation will be in the State Library Building Auditorium, 109 E. Jones Street, Raleigh, NC. Mr. Thompson’s presentation will provide an overview of the history of the North Carolina-South Carolina boundary that determined how North Carolina got its shape. Information will be provided on the research and survey work performed to complete the recent task of reestablishing the boundary. After the program, a selection of historical boundary maps will  be on exhibit in the State Archives’ Reading Room. Want to see the “official broadside” for this event? Click here.

UPDATE!  For those of us who couldn’t make it, many thanks to the NC Archives for making it available on their YouTube channel.

Map Wars: Episode II – A “new” NC wall map.

There are, of course, numerous examples of maps whose publication history far outlived their accuracy from either a physical or political geographic perspective. One of the best examples from North Carolina is the 1833 MacRae-Brazier map.


1833 MacRae-Brazier map of North Carolina

Note: Analogous to the Star Wars movies, we’re starting in the middle of the story. We’ll eventually circle around to Episode I, the story of the original MacRae-Brazier map. The fact that I’m starting in the middle of the story is what prompted the post title; this mid 19th century commercial cartographic competition did not involve light sabres or other weaponry. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post… Continue reading

Worthless land?

The early 1830s spawned a flurry of interest in building railroads in North Carolina. Many more companies were formed and railroads proposed than were actually constructed. That would be an outstanding topic to cover but, for now, this brief post is limited to an annotation on an 1832 manuscript map drawn to illustrate a potential route of what eventually became the North Carolina Railroad. Continue reading

How did Google find Lenoir, a moving target on these maps?

In 1847, the North Carolina legislature approved the incorporation of the Caldwell and Ashe Turnpike. The purpose of this thoroughfare was to facilitate trade between western Virginia, Tennessee, and even Kentucky with North Carolina via a route through what is now Watauga and Caldwell counties.This scenic toll road connected Johnson City, TN, with Lenoir, North Carolina, the latter now home to a Google data center. The Caldwell and Ashe Turnpike was completed within a few years and persists today on our State highway map as U.S. Highway 321. What did it look like on the great North Carolina wall maps of the 1850s? Continue reading

ISHMap-List: new Map History email listserv

Back in the old days, questions or announcements related to any aspect of cartographic history were easily broadcast far and wide via the MapHist listserv.  A few years ago, MapHist migrated away from an email listserv to an on line forum. Although well designed, the forum has failed to maintain the passion and level of discussion that existed previously in MapHist’s listserv format. In an effort to recapture those qualities, the International Society for the History of the Map recently created the ISHMap-List, an email listserv open to anyone interested in cartographic history. You can sign up for this email discussion group at no charge via this web site:

Although membership in ISHM is not required to subscribe to ISHMap-List, you are welcome to join ISHM here.

Update: An announcement was made on 19 June 2014 that the MapHist Forum will be closed and web site removed by January 2015. That’s  all the more reason to sign up for the ISHMap-List.

END OF POST – the rest of this page is repetition of the above to meet word count threshold for search engine optimization. If you are on the blog home page, no need to click “Continue reading”. Continue reading

Re-stating Blome’s A Generall Mapp of Carolina

A Generall Mapp of Carolina Describeing its Sea Coast and Rivers, London Printed for Ric. Blome, was published in A Description of the Island of Jamaica: With the other Isles and Territories in America, by Richard Blome (Burden, Plate 420). The title page in the first edition of the book is dated 1672. Continue reading

Join us at Hope Plantation on January 18!

I hope to see you at Hope Plantation on January 18. Please see registration details below.

Exploring Northeastern North Carolina’s

Early Architecture and Maps

January 18, 2014 ♦ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm


9:30 -10:00 am ♦ Registration and Coffee

10:00 am ♦ Reid Thomas, Restoration Specialist, NC State Historic Preservation Office
Exploring Northeastern North Carolina’s Early Architecture

An illustrated survey of regional buildings from the recently discovered oldest dated house to ones built up to about 1840 will be presented. Several fascination buildings (from humble one-room abodes to finer multi-room houses) that have been studied over the last 20+ years will be highlighted.

12:00 -1:00 pm ♦ Lunch

1:00 pm ♦ Jay Lester, Independent Scholar
To David Stone and Peter Brown, Esq.: this first actual survey of the state of North Carolina taken by the subscribers is respectfully dedicated: The Story of the Price-Strother Map

The 1808 Price-Strother map of North Carolina, published with the financial backing of David Stone, was the first map of the State by actual survey. A review of the map was published in 1964 in the North Carolina Historical Review. Through many hours spent in archives, libraries, and on line, a greatly expanded and corrected history of the map is now pending publication in the MESDA Journal.

2:30 pm ♦ Dale Loberger, Historic Interpreter, Monroe, NC
Hands-on demonstration of surveying equipment of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.

Advances in science and the demands of a developing continent led to rapid growth of tools and techniques for describing physical geography and bringing order to the untamed world. Learn through experience how early maps were created from the instruments devised to measure and plan the future of a new world.


Conference registration fee $25.00  ♦ *Registration Deadline January 15, 2014

Printable flyer for registration:

Make check payable to:

Historic Hope Foundation / 132 Hope House Road / Windsor, NC 27983

Phone: 252-794-3140 / Fax: 252-794-5583 / Email: