Nonexistent North Carolina Maps or North Carolina Maps You’ll Never See



A recent listing on eBay reminded me of the neglect frequently paid to North Carolina by map publishers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The eBay listing was for a “Tourist’s Pocket Map of South Carolina”, by S. Augustus Mitchell. 1836 South Carolina pocket map by S. Augustus Mitchell

Would you like to see a copy of Mitchell’s “Tourist’s Pocket Map of North Carolina”?

Well, you are out of luck.

In the 1830s, S. Augustus Mitchell published a number of “Tourist maps” of various states in the form of pocket maps, including one of each of the four states that share a border with North Carolina.

For several of the northern states, Mitchell issued revised editions of these maps through the 1840s and into the early 1850s [1]. No such “Tourist map” of North Carolina by Mitchell is known to exist 🙁

Mitchell wasn’t the first map publisher to ignore North Carolina. He wasn’t even the second. (He was the only one of the examples discussed here who could not use death as a valid excuse.)


In 1816, John Melish published the first edition of A Geograhical Description of the United States, in which he announced the following:

It is also proposed to publish as soon as possible as accompaniments to the Map of the United States A SERIES OF SHEET MAPS to embrace EACH STATE AND TERRITORY in the Union, showing the counties, post towns, post roads, and a multitude of minute particulars, which could not be introduced into a general map.

Melish published sheet maps in the following order: Indiana (1817), Tennessee (1817), Illinois (1818), Alabama (1818), Mississippi (1819), and Louisiana (1820)[2]. The map of Tennessee has an engraver’s imprint dated 1817 below the mileage scale, and a publisher’s imprint dated 1818 outside the border at bottom center.

1818 map of Tennessee by John Melish, based on surveys by John Strother.
1817/18 map of Tennessee by John Melish, based on surveys by John Strother. Image courtesy of Tennessee State Library & Archives.
Click thumbnail above for zoomable image.

Although Melish issued updated (at least by date imprint) versions of some of these maps in 1819 and 1820, he published no other state or territory maps on the same scale. (Advertised sheet maps of Ohio and Kentucky were on a smaller scale and were originally published in Melish’s Travels...) Melish died in 1822 before he could see his proposal through to completion. Therefore, you will never see a John Melish map of North Carolina. 🙁


Over a period of two decades from 1796 to 1816, German scholar Christoph Daniel Ebeling published seven volumes of an intended history of each of the United States. The first six volumes included the New England and middle Atlantic states; the seventh volume focused on Virginia. Early on, Ebeling realized the need for maps to accompany the work.

Ebeling enlisted the aid of geographer Daniel Friederich Sotzmann to compile and draft maps for an Atlas von Nordamerika. While 18 maps were drawn, only 10 were actually published [3].

Of the 10 maps published between 1796-1800, the only one depicting a state south of the Mason-Dixon line was that of “Maryland und Delaware”.

Maryland und Delaware image courtesy of Sterling Library at Yale University
Image courtesy of Sterling Library and Beinecke Digital Collections, Yale University.
Click thumbnail above for zoomable image.


Professor Ebeling’s work was interrupted, cumulatively, for a significant number of years by the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. These prolonged interruptions prevented Ebeling from obtaining necessary correspondence and reference acquisitions required to complete his monumental project. Christoph Ebeling died in 1817. Therefore, you will never see a published Ebeling/Sotzmann map of North Carolina. 🙁

What happened to Ebeling’s 18 manuscript maps, one of which, hopefully, was of North Carolina? As stated above, only 10 maps were engraved and printed. The quote from the Harvard web site, “While 18 maps were drawn…”, likely should have been stated as “While 18 maps were intended…” as no evidence has been found to indicate that any manuscript maps were created for any of the unpublished maps, with the possible exception of Virginia. Additionally, no surviving manuscripts for any of the published maps are known. If anyone knows more on this topic, please inform us via the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below.

Thankfully, there are still plenty of existing North Carolina maps to study and admire. Would you like to suggest a North Carolina map topic for a future discussion? Please use the “What’s on your mind?” comment box below.


[1] Personal communication from Dave Morgan, C.A.R.T.E. Museum, Baton Rouge, LA. Mr. Morgan has confirmed Mitchell Tourist maps for Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

[2] David Rumsey Collection:, citing

Ristow 166-168; Karrow 1409, 1411; Schwartz & Ehrenberg p239

[3] History of the Harvard Map Collection:


Additional image links:

John Carter Brown Library high resolution images of 9 of the 10 Sotzmann state maps (lacking Maryland)

Library of Congress high resolution images of 8 Sotzmann maps (including Maryland)

David Rumsey Collection high resolution images of 5 Sotzmann maps

Library of Congress high resolution images of Melish maps of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Illinois

David Rumsey Collection high resolution images of 3 Mitchell Tourist maps


What's on your mind?