Kocherthal 1709 map of Carolina

A very brief historical background on Kocherthal and the Palatines

Before we get to the map of the Carolina region published by Joshua Kocherthal in 1709, a very brief historical background is in order. The Palatine region of western Germany was devastated repeatedly by wars in the 17th Century and early 18th Century. Famine and poverty inflicted by constant war are frequently cited as reasons for emigration of German Palatines during this period. If decades of war and famine had not yet instigated mass migration, what encouraged the Palatines to finally overcome inertia in 1709?

An unusually harsh winter of 1708-09, the coldest in Europe in the past 500 years, exacerbated famine conditions and may have prompted the Palatines to consider relocation.1 However, the major catalyst for mass emigration of Palatines to the Netherlands or England and eventually to North America, may have been a small “Golden book”. It received its nickname from the gilt lettering of the title page and/or cover. The title of this book has been translated into English as “Extensive and Detailed Report of the Famous Land Carolina, Situated in the English America.” The “Golden Book” was authored by German Lutheran minister Joshua Kocherthal (née Josua Harrsch), who based its contents on earlier Carolina promotional tracts published in London.2

There are excellent options for further reading on the history of the German Palatines. Here are just a few, some of which are on line:

  • Chapters 1-3 of Christoph von Graffenried’s Account of the Founding of New Bern. Edited with an Historical Introduction and an English Translation, by Vincent H. Todd… in cooperation with Julius Goebel, available on line.3
  • Otterness, Philip L.. Becoming German: The 1709 Palatine Migration to New York. United States: Cornell University Press, 2013. A preview is available on line via Google Books.4
  • The October 2008 issue of Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, the quarterly journal of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, was devoted entirely to all things Kocherthal.5
    A partial list of contents of the October 2008 issue:

        • Kocherthal: A Tricentennial Commemoration of the Palatine Migration of 1708/1709
        • The Ecclesiastical Situation in the Kraichgau: Two 1699 Letters from Pastor Josua Harrsch to Superintendent Johann Philipp Schlosser
        • Who Was Kocherthal and What Happened to His Party of 1708?
        • Extensive and Detailed Report of the Famous Land Carolina, Situated in the English America [1708/1709], by Kocherthal [Josua Harrsch] (English translation of Kocherthal’s “Golden Book”).
        • A Harrsch/Kocherthal Bibliography
  • Knittle, Walter Allen. 1936. Early eighteenth century Palatine emigration: a British government redemptioner project to manufacture naval stores (multiple more recent printings, none readable on line).
  • An excellent synopsis on Kocherthal’s book and map was recently published on Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps, Inc.’s web site6

How about the map?

Kocherthal’s book proved quite popular; three editions were published in 1709.7 Kocherthal had hoped to reproduce two English maps of Carolina,8 but had been unable to do so due to “certain coincidences and hindrances.”9 Kocherthal referred readers to a “general map by Niclaus Visscher, the title of which is: Nova Tabula Geographica complectens Borealiorem Americae Partem &c”.10 Kocherthal added, “The special map, however, will be produced by Mr. Danckert himself, God willing, and thus be available at the coming fair in Frankfurt.”11 The “special map”, a small map of Carolina and Virginia, was included in the third edition and some late second edition copies of Kocherthal’s 1709 book. The map bears no title and no engraver or printer imprints (Figure 1).

small untitled map of the Carolinas, published in 1709, using outdated geography
Figure 1. Untitled map of Carolina and Virginia, 1709. Original in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University: https://jcb.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/s/m977y5

Note the Native Americans, enclosed in palisaded villages and safely tucked far inland. Nothing to fear here!

Even at a casual glance, it is obvious that this small map was primarily derived from the same region on Visscher’s larger map, Nova Tabula… But if one looks closer, one will find additional place names in Carolina. Were these supplied by Kocherthal? Interestingly, one surviving example of Visscher’s Nova Tabula…, held by the Det Kongelige Bibliotek (The Royal Library) in Copenhagen, may be the exact copy used as a template for the engraver of Kocherthal’s map12 This particular copy of Nova Tabula… has manuscript additions in Carolina that match the new place names on Kocherthal’s map (Figure 2).

Visscher vs Kocherthal
Figure 2:
Left – Visscher’s map
Middle – Visscher’s map with annotations subsequently incorporated into Kocherthal map.
Right – Kocherthal map

 Not only were several manuscript additions in Virginia on the The Royal Library’s copy of Nova Tabula… not included on the Kocherthal map, but many of the original engraved place names in Virginia on Nova Tabula… were omitted on Kocherthal’s map (not shown). Was this an oversight? Lack of time and/or money for the engraver? Or, could it have been a conscious effort to make Carolina look more civilized and inviting to potential European emigrants? After all, the book was written to promote immigration to Carolina, not to Virginia.

As on many maps of the 1680-1720 period, there is complete confusion over the two Carolina Charles Towns, i.e. the earlier and short-lived settlement on the Cape Fear River, and the later permanent settlement in South Carolina. As a result, the river nomenclature is a mess. Charles Town (Carls-Thon) is shown just above Cape Fear on the Ashley River! In real life, the Cooper and Wateree rivers are north of the Ashley River. Since the Ashley River empties at Cape Fear on the Kocherthal map, the Cooper and Wateree rivers had to be placed even further north, with the Wateree emptying into Pamlico Sound! Meanwhile, back in South Carolina, there is additional confusion. The Wando River, which empties into the Cooper River near Charleston in real life, is shown north of the Santee River, in the approximate location of the otherwise omitted Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers. There is no Charles Town in South Carolina on the Kocherthal map.

Also of interest on the The Royal Library’s copy of Visscher’s Nova Tabula is a manuscript map of the Carolina coastal plain added in a blank region of the ocean at the lower right. This provides a far more accurate rendering of this region than is seen on Visscher’s engraving or on the Kocherthal map. Given the differences in ink color, it is possible that this manuscript map and the manuscript notations on the engraved portion of Visscher’s map may not have been done at the same time.

Finally, one cannot leave the Kocherthal map without taking a moment to appreciate the wonderful variety of wildlife depicted, more than are shown on other maps of this period.

Click the bunny for a critter collage!

p.s. Some of you may be wondering, “How many times is this post going to be published?” Hopefully, this third time will be the last. The first time it was published in May 2019, it was there for about five months and mysteriously vanished. Completely. The only evidence I had that it had ever existed was because I had saved the entire blog as a pdf shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, the blog print plugin at that time did not capture footnotes. I posted that sad looking pdf here in ~December 2019. It took me this long to get the courage to try to recreate the original post with all the reference citations.

Any corrections and/or supplementary information would be greatly appreciated. Please use the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below.



  1. In [January] of 1709, Europe froze and stayed that way for months. People ice-skated on the canals of Venice, church bells broke when rung, and travelers could cross the Baltic Sea on horseback. This freakish winter ultimately claimed the lives of a vast number of Europeans and disrupted two major wars…
        It happened literally overnight in the first few days of 1709. On January 5, temperatures plummeted—not, perhaps, a surprise in European winter. But 1709 was no ordinary cold snap. Dawn broke the next morning on a continent that had frozen over from Italy to Scandinavia and from England to Russia, and would not warm up again for the next three months.
    This story appears in the January/February 2017 issue of National Geographic History Magazine. The snippet above is provided in the event the URL breaks (NGS has already changed the URL at least once). Read more here: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/world-history-magazine/article/1709-deep-freeze-europe-winter
  2. The “golden book” was titled (when translated) A Complete and Detailed Report of the Renowned District of Carolina Located in English America and was written by a German minister by the name of Joshua Kocherthal.
         Kocherthal’s work was a promotional tract written to encourage immigration to Carolina. It was probably created by consulting a number of other promotional tracts, since Kocherthal had not visited Carolina by that point. It was short, straightforward and easy to read aloud to semi-literate audiences. Kocherthal praised Carolina for its fertile soil, its low taxes and its religious freedoms.
    Read more about it here:https://clermontstatehistoricsite.blogspot.com/2010/03/golden-book.html
  3. https://archive.org/details/christophvongraf00graf
  4. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Becoming_German/P1t_AwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1
  5. Details for ordering a hardcopy are available here: https://www.lmhs.org/research/lmhs-publications/pa-mennonite-heritage/ . An annual membership in the LMHS (currently $55) provides on line access to pdf versions of this issue and all PMH issues from 1978-2009
  6. https://www.raremaps.com/gallery/detail/55293/german-emigrant-tracts-on-pennsylvania-and-carolina-umstan-
  7. The following information is from “A Harrsch/Kocherthal Bibliography”, compiled by Andreas Mielke and Sandra Yelton; published in The Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, Volume 31, Number 4; October 2008. P48.
    •[A 1706 quarto edition of a Kocherthal Carolina report has only been claimed in the editor’s 1709 foreword; no one has yet been able to verify a copy or a title.]
    • Außführlich/ und/ Umständlicher Bericht/ Von der berühmten Landschafft/ Carolina,/ In dem/ Engelländischen America/ gelegen./ An Tag gegeben/ Von/ Kocherthalern./ Zweyter Druck./ [Dekor.]/ Franckfurt am Mäyn// Zu finden bey Georg Heinrich Oehrling// Anno 1709. [42 pages.]
    • Außführlich= und umständlicher/ Bericht/ Von der berühmten Landschaft/ Carolina// In dem/ Engelländischen America/ gelegen./ An Tag gegeben/ Von/ Kocherthalern./ Dritter Druck.// Mit einem Anhang/ auß eines/ Englischen Authoris gethanen Be=/ schreibung/ und eines auf der Reyse dahin/ begriffenen Hochteutschen auß Londen Benach=/ richtigung/ nebst einer Land=Charte von/ solcher Insul vermehret./ [Dekor.]/ Franckfurt am Mäyn// Zu finden bey Georg Heinrich Oehrling// Anno 1709. [72 pages.]
    • Außführlich= und umständlicher/ Bericht/ Von der berühmten Landschafft/ Carolina// In dem/ Engelländischen America/ gelegen./ An Tag gegeben/ Von/ Kocherthalern./ Vierter Druck// Mit Anhängen/ zweyer Engelischen/ Authoren gethanen Beschreibung/ und eines/ auff der Reyse dahin begriffenen Hochteutschen/ auß Londen Benachrichtigung;/ Nebst/ Einer Land=Carte von Carolina ver=/ mehrt./ [Dekor.]/ Franckfurt am Mäyn// Zu finden bey Georg Heinrich Oehrling// Anno MDCCIX. [80 pages; see below].
    Appended to this third edition are three excerpts: “Erster Anhang aus Richard Blome/ Englischem America. Oder Fernere Beschreibung der Landtschafft Carolina/ auch ihrer Gelegenheit und Einkommen,” 40-65 (From the edition Leipzig: Johann Großens Wittbe u. Erben, 1697); “Remarquabler Anhang und Nachricht/ einiger Landschafften im Americanischen Neu=Engelland,” 66-76; “Dritter Anhang. Extract eines Brieffs/ auß Londen geschrieben/ vom 13. Julii 1708. an Joh. H.” (by J. J. W.) 77-80.
  8. Kocherthal provided specific information. One was a general map of the Carolinas, the other was a regional map of the South Carolina Low Country, centered on Charleston.
    For the former, see https://jcb.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/s/7wb9gi .
    For the latter, see https://jcb.lunaimaging.com/luna/servlet/s/p37rnv .
  9. From “Extensive and Detailed Report of the Famous Land Carolina, Situated in the English America [1708/1709], by Kocherthal [Josua Harrsch]: Translated by Andreas Mielke and annotated in collaboration with Sandra Yelton”, published in The Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage, Volume 31, Number 4; October 2008. Pp 32-47 (p34).
  10. Ibid., p34. A high resolution image of the 1710 edition of this map is available here: https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:w9505s93n 
    (accessed February 18, 2021).
  11. Ibid., p34. Kocherthal likely was referring to either of two brothers, both of whom were fourth generation members of the Danckert family of engravers/print sellers: Theodore (1663-1727) and Cornelis the Younger (1664-1717)
  12. The National Library of Denmark’s annotated copy of Visscher’s Nova Tabula is viewable on line: http://www5.kb.dk/maps/kortsa/2012/jul/kortatlas/object78345/en

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