Dorothy Sloan -- Books

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October 26, 2007

“This huge map drawn on a scale of six miles to the inch is, I believe, the first large-scale map of Iowa”-Streeter

97. [MAP]. HENN, WILLIAMS & CO. Sectional Map of Iowa Compiled from the Official Surveys of the United States and the Public Records of the State & Counties and from Personal Reconnoissance. 1857. By Henn, Williams & Co. of Fairfield, Iowa. Published by Keen & Lee, Chicago, Illinois. [lower right] Engraved by Theodore Leonhardt under the Direction of J. L. Hazzard. Printed, Mounted & Colored by Charles Desilver, Publisher No. 251 Market Street, Philadelphia. [lower left above ornamental border]: Entered According to Act of Congress by Keen & Lee, in the Year 1857, in the Clerks Office of the District Court of Illinois. Philadelphia, 1857. Lithograph map on bank note paper (two joined sheets), original coloring (full and outline), wide ornate frame border, border to border: 133.3 x 167 cm. Folded into original blind-embossed green cloth covers (21 x 13.5 cm), gilt-lettered on upper cover: Keen, Williams & Co. Sectional Map of Iowa, 1857. Chicago, Keen & Lee; front pastedown with printed ad for Keen & Lee, Publishers, Importers & Wholesale Book-Dealers (at upper right is an ad for Henn, Williams & Company’s exchange and banking houses in Fairfield, Chariton, Council Bluffs, Sioux City, and Fort Dodge, Iowa; below is a table of explanation to symbols on the map). Pocket covers: Gutter margin re-lined with original paper laid down, otherwise fine and bright. Contemporary manuscript ink presentation on ad: “Milton Murray from his Father.” Map: A few folds with minor browning and/or small separations (a few inconsequential losses), one clean 18-cm split at top into image (no loss), a few neat repairs on map verso, otherwise fine and fresh with excellent color retention. Overall a splendid copy of a remarkable production, measuring approximately 5-1/2 by 3-1/2 feet.

               First edition. Graff 1855. Phillips, America, p. 337. Streeter Sale 1907. Not in Newberry Library; it holds several maps of Iowa by the Henn, Williams firm, but not the present mammoth size. Not in Rumsey. Tooley lists the firm of Henn, Williams & Co., but lists only one map (Township Map of the State of Iowa, co-published with R.L. Barnes, Philadelphia, 1855). Counties are in color, and roads, railroads, public land surveys, and streams are located, along with a veritable plethora of town and village names.

            Read remarks on a phenomenon in the settlement of Iowa that helps to illuminate the reality depicted on this map: “The giving of Iowa names took place during a period of seething growth. Iowa’s rapid expansion from 1836 to 1860 is paralleled only by the gold rushes of the far-western states. Myriads of prairie schooners waited days for a chance to be ferried across the Mississippi. During such ‘boom times’ it is inevitable that there should be many speculative enterprises: the prairies, as has been said, ‘were on fire with the townsite fever.’ The platting of towns can be traced across the state like the wave that follows a motorboat on a lake. They begin in the south-east counties in the late thirties, in the middle counties during the late forties, and in the north-west just before the Civil War. And each town had its name. Of course many of the names were ill-considered and of little significance; but there is always the possibility that any certain one of them might turn out to be the metropolis of its region, and thus its name be of importance. Inasmuch as so many names had to be given in so short a space of time, it is small wonder that the situation has not been more chaotic than it was.” (Allen Read, “Observations on Iowa Place Names,” American Speech, Vol. 5, No. 1., Oct., 1929, pp. 27-44).

            However, that detail hardly reveals the involvement of publishers Bernhart Henn and Jesse Williams in the development of Iowa, which this map is clearly intended to promote. Far to the west on the map is shown the area of present-day Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska, the next great portal of westward expansion. Four years before this map was published Henn & Williams had commenced a very timely enterprise to provide ferry services to emigrants crossing between those two points. Thus, even though the settlement activity seems to be in the eastern part of the state, the publishers were already busy in the far western reaches helping those who wished to go on to Nebraska and farther west. ($1,500-2,500)

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