What map is this? NC Canals are key

Do you ever find yourself staring at an old map and wondering, “Where on earth did this map come from?”  That question was recently prompted by a small undated map with no publisher imprint. The map is titled N. & S. CAROLINA and GEORGIA.1826-NCSCGA-ArmroydCareyLea

One of the most noticeable features of the map is the indication, by engraved dotted lines and yellow and red handcoloring, of a network of canals connecting rivers and/or sounds in North Carolina.  A search by map title quickly leads one to the David Rumsey Collection, where an earlier state of the map can be found. The earlier state, without canals and without the Dismal Swamp, was included in The Juvenile Atlas or a Series Of Maps, To Illustrate the Old and New Worlds, published by H.C. Carey & I. Lea, Philadelphia, 1822 (see addendum). This map was engraved by Young & Delleker, and likely drawn by John Graeme Melish, the son of the well known early 19th century cartographer and publisher, John Melish. The maps in The Juvenile Atlas that were engraved by Kneass (rather than Young & Delleker), credit J.G. Melish as the “delineator.” Based on the consistent style despite multiple engravers, it is logical to assume that all maps were drawn by the same person.

Let’s turn our attention to the NC canals; the map shows a proposed canal arcing southward from Plymouth to Beaufort. A Google search, without the brackets, for [canal “Albemarle Sound” Plymouth Beaufort] provides links on the first page of search results to the 1826 and 1830 editions of George Armroyd’s A Connected View of the Whole Internal Navigation of the United States … Fortunately, both editions are digitized. Although the 1830 edition provides a more detailed description of the proposed Plymouth to Beaufort canal, that edition contained only a single map of the United States. The 1826 edition is the source for the second state of the map in question, showing canals, the Dismal Swamp, and erasure of “No.32” from the top left corner of the plate.

A third state of this map has an added “piano key” border, roads, and new place names (including Franklin and Waynesville in North Carolina). An example can be seen here. On this third state of the map, the engraved dotted lines indicating proposed canals remain, but the map is handcolored by state. Reportedly, this version of the map was included in several 1830-1834 atlases, none of which this blogger has had an opportunity to examine. Examples include:

L. A. Key: The cabinet atlas, or a series of maps to illustrate the old and new worlds (1830).

C. S. Williams: A new general atlas comprising a series of maps representing the grand divisions of the globe : together with the several Empires, kingdoms & states in the world (1832).

Andrus & Judd: A new general atlas comprising a series of maps representing the grand divisions of the globe : together with the several Empires, kingdoms & states in the world (1833, 1834).


If anyone has one of those atlases available, please let us know whether or not it contains this particular map. You can use the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below.

ADDENDUM: David Rumsey shows the first use of this map in Carey’s School Atlas, published in 1820 by M. Carey & Son. Rumsey offers the following information:

This little school atlas is the beginning of a long run: next comes the Carey and Lea “Juvenile atlas or a series of maps to illustrate the Old and New Worlds”, 1822…, then Carey & Lea’s 1825 edition of this atlas, then the Key edition and the Hunt edition of the “Cabinet atlas” of 1830 with 28 maps added, then C.S. Williams “A new general atlas” of 1832 and finally the Andrus and Judd 1833 [and 1834] “New general atlas.” All have the U.S. map engraved by J.G. Melish, son of John Melish (see Ristow, Am. Maps and Mapmakers) and the other thirteen maps that appear first in this 1820 School Atlas.

Do either of our two blog readers have a mystery map to be identified?

What's on your mind?