Filling in the Blanks

Filling in the blanks: the sources used by Henry S. Tanner to complete
his 1823 map of North Carolina

One of the most important maps in North Carolina’s cartographic history, first published in 1807, is titled: To David Stone and Peter Brown Esqrs. This First Actual Survey of the State of North Carolina Taken by the Subscribers is respectfully dedicated By their humble Servants Jona. Price. John Strother. It was the first map of the entire State, excluding lands owned by the Cherokee Nation, that had been created by actual survey. (When you finish reading this blog post, mosey over to the MESDA Journal where you’ll find a detailed history of the Price-Strother map.)

John Strother had participated as a surveyor in the North Carolina/Tennessee boundary survey in the Spring of 1799. That survey began at the Virginia line and stopped when they reached the French Broad River near Paint (or Painted) Rock. Beyond that lie the Cherokee Nation. As a result, Price and Strother’s map shows an open-ended Buncombe County extending westward into a large blank space in which one sees very little other than Boundary’s not yet Settle’d [sic].

Open-ended Buncombe County
1808 Price-Strother map of NC
Image from National Archives

The copper plates for the Price-Strother map lay dormant for almost two decades before they were purchased in 1826 by a Philadelphia publisher, Robert DeSilver. He had the plates updated, filling in the blank western end of the State.

Blank space filled in with Haywood County
1826 revised edition of Price-Strother map
Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris.

Where did DeSilver get this information? If one looks at the 1823 Tanner map of North & South Carolina, one will see that DeSilver has relied liberally on Tanner’s map to fill in the blank space in the western part of the State.

That begs the question: How did Tanner get such detailed information for his map? Thankfully, Henry Shenck Tanner provided a wonderful explanation in the form of a Geographical Memoir introduction to his American Atlas. As relates to the western part of the State, Tanner wrote:

Click for larger image
From David Rumsey’s Collection.

Zachariah Candler (c1772-c1844), was a long-time resident of Buncombe County and a number of his surveys connected with land transactions in the area have survived. Sadly, his map of Buncombe and Haywood counties apparently has not survived. Candler’s expertise in land speculation has been documented in Linda Hoxit Raster’s Transylania Real Estate: Speculation of Cherokee Lands (Spring 2002 issue of Tuckasegee Valley Historical Review – see also by the same author, The Orphan Strip Community: Crucible of Cultural Change, currently available in electronic format). Without Tanner’s excellent documentation of source material, the contribution of Zachariah Candler to North Carolina’s cartographic history might have been lost.

In the summer of 1821, the remainder of the NC/TN boundary to the Georgia line was surveyed. Tanner credits one of the North Carolina commissioners involved with that expedition, Montfort Stokes, with information useful in the compilation of Tanner’s map. However, Tanner did not specify the author of his other source, A Map of Haywood County. If anyone has additional information on this topic, please enlighten us via the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below.

Extant copies of the 1808 Price-Strother map that have been digitized:
State Archives, copy 1
State Archives, copy 2
North Carolina Collection
Library of Congress

What's on your mind?