The First Rendering of Texas by a Trained Surveyor

“It seems to me about the most important of all the eighteenth century maps showing Texas, sharing that honor with the Delisle 1718 map”—Thomas W. Streeter

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233. [MAP]. [ÁLVAREZ BARREIRO (or BARREYRO), Francisco]. LÓPEZ, Juan (copyist and engraver). Mapa Geográfico de las Provincias al N. de Nueva España. Por D. Juan Lopez, Geógrafo de S.M. Madrid, año de 1803. [below neat line at lower left] Se hallará con todas las obras del autor, pazuela del Angel númo. quarto prāal júnto á la librería de Llera. [text above scale at lower left] Esta mapa se levanto por orden del Exmo. se Marques de Casafuerte Virrey Governador y Capitan general de estos reynos, por D. Francisco Alvarez Barreyro, Ingeniero prãl. de la provincia de los Tejas, quien signió las órdenes que fueron dadas, por el Brigadier D. Pedro de Rivera Villalon. Madrid, 1803. Copper-engraved map on two joined sheets of thin laid paper (chain lines approximately 2.6 cm. apart) with watermark (“San Serra”), outline coloring of boundaries and color wash on coasts. Neat line to neat line: 31.5 x 53.8 cm; overall sheet size: 42.7 x 58.5 cm. Very fine. “41” in manuscript at upper right above neat line. OCLC lists only the copy at Yale, but the Library of Congress has a copy (mounted on linen), and a copy is in the Orozco y Berra collection in Mexico (see Materiales para un cartographie mexicana 1057 & Mapoteca Colombiana #21 on p. 27, in section for “California, Florida i Tejas”).

     First printed edition of a map that existed for decades only in Barriero’s original 1728 manuscript; the map is better known through a 1770 copy in the British Library (see Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, Vol. I, following p. 182), and an interactive digital version posted in conjunction with Juliana Barr’s “Geography of Power: Mapping Indian Borders in the ‘Borderlands of the Early Southwest” in William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 68, No. 1, January 2011, see: <>. See Lowery 538 (citing Surville’s 1770 manuscript copy of Barreiro’s 1728 manuscript map; also 318 &, 536).

     Wheat lists three of Barreiro’s manuscript maps (Mapping the Transmississippi West I, pp. 209-210, #113, #114, #115 & pp. 80-84):

It is now possible to consider a group of maps into which we can sink our cartographical teeth, so to speak, with much satisfaction. They represent the work of a trained engineer, Francisco Álvarez y Barreiro (or Barreyro), who accompanied Brigadier Don Pedro de Rivera on his tour of inspection of the Provincias Internas during the years 1724-1728, under the orders of the Viceroy, Juan de Acuña y Bejarano, Marqués de Escalona y Casa Fuerte. Rivera’s task was to inspect the presidios along the northern frontier of New Spain to determine appropriate operation and required garrisons.... Barreiro had long lived and worked in New Spain, and from 1717 to 1720 had served in Texas as a military engineer. He joined the Rivera expedition as engineer, cartographer and statistician, and prepared six maps, which together may be said to form The first reasonably scientific description of the areas covered. Five of these were individual provinces.... The sixth map is a general map of the entire area, including the Province of Texas [which] exists in a 1770 copy made by Don Louis de Surville, which is now located at the British Museum. This overall map was by far the most accurate yet made of much of the area we now know as the American Southwest. It is a cartographical landmark of first importance.... The map is especially detailed in the Texas area, with presidios and boundaries carefully shown. Oddly enough the Pecos River does not appear and there are deficiencies, but, with all their faults, these works of the engineer Barreiro were primary landmarks of southwestern American cartography. Apparently no equally good maps of any of these regions were made in New Spain for many years after Barreiro and Rivera returned from the frontier. It is regrettable that these maps were not published when they were drawn, but the Spaniards preferred to retain such information for use only by their own officials.

Jackson, Shooting the Sun, Plate 19, pp. 76-81, p. 241 & pp. 365-366:

This Mapa Geográfico de las Provincias al N. de Nueva España was the work of Juan López, Geographer to the King. Printed at Madrid in 1803, it is fully credited to Barreiro and faithful to his manuscript map in almost all respects.... The publication of Barreiro’s map by López was an anachronism, its usefulness to be shortly eclipsed by the more monumental nature and wider recognition of Humboldt’s accomplishment. This, of course, does not detract from the significance of Barreiro’s map as a cartographic milestone, nor from its great importance to his contemporaries.... Thomas Streeter wrote enthusiastically of the [Barreiro’s] general map...: “It seems to me about the most important of all the eighteenth-century maps showing Texas, sharing that honor with the Delisle 1718 map” [quoting Wroth in “Frontier Presidios,” 214].... Michael F. Weber states that Barreiro’s work “constituted the first cartographic survey of northern Mexico” and that the general map...was “superbly executed.” [p. 241] From López’s 1803 published map, it is evident that either Barreiro’s 1728 original or the 1770 Surville copy...was still in the Spanish archives in 1803. “Barreyro” is fully credited in a legend to the lower left, and López’s rendition is close to the original. Barreiro had shown Indian rancherías as clusters of houses, which Surville switched to teepees and López converted to dots.” [pp. 365-366 on Juan López] “Tomás López [the noted Spanish cartographer] died in 1802, but his sons Juan and Tomás Mauricio continued to issue atlases as late as 1844.”

     Martin and Martin, p. 24:

Not until the expedition of Rivera in 1727 did the Spanish attempt any systematic mapping of the province [of Texas]. Rivera was accompanied by a talented young engineer, Francisco Álvarez Barreiro, who had served as a military engineer in Texas under Aguayo from 1717 to 1720. Barriero’s maps of the province mark the first renderings of Texas by a trained cartographer from his own observations. They stood unsurpassed for forty years.

     Handbook of Texas Online (Francisco Álvarez Barreiro):

Barreiro (16?-17?) travelled from Spain to New Spain in the company of Viceroy Marqués de Valero (1716–22). Shortly after his arrival in the New World, Barreiro was appointed military engineer for the expedition of Governor Martin de Alarcón, charged with founding religious, military, and civilian settlements on the San Antonio River and the resupply of missions in East Texas. According to his own testimony he assisted in the construction of the chapel for San Antonio de Valero Mission.

In 1720 Barreiro was apparently obliged to return to Spain under a general order, which stated that Spaniards with wives in Spain should return there. However, by 1724 he was back in Mexico. In that year he began his most important work as surveyor, map maker, and experienced engineer for a massive inspection of northern New Spain (1724–28), carried out by Brigadier General Pedro de Rivera y Villalón.

Barreiro left the capital on November 21, 1724, on a trek that eventually covered nearly 7,000 miles. The inspection began at Zacatecas and progressed to all presidios in northern New Spain. Prolonged stopovers were often necessary in order for him to complete his surveys and maps. Rivera completed his tour of inspection in Texas in the latter months of 1728. In all, Barreiro drafted six maps, five of which are located in the Archivo General de Indias. From presidio La Bahía, he spent thirty-five days exploring the coast and land that lay between it and the Neches River. His efforts represented “the most comprehensive reconnaissance of the upper Texas coast yet achieved.” The resulting map, entitled Plano corográphico é hidrográphico, is preserved in the British Museum. While it repeats a few errors, such as the misconception that the Guadalupe River flows into Matagorda Bay, its accuracy in other respects is surprising. Contained within it are the configuration of the coast, some river courses, and Indian villages and Spanish settlements.

In Barreiro’s final landmark survey, he recorded logging 363 leagues, or about 944 miles. He rejoined the Rivera inspection caravan at San Juan Bautista December 23, 1728. There he received a new assignment, after which he disappears from known historical records.

Handbook of Texas Online: “‘Plano corográfico é hidrográphico,’“ reflects Barreiro’s visit to the province with Rivera in 1727 and his personal exploration from La Bahia to the southeastern corner of Texas. The map, owned by the Hispanic Society of America since 1907, was brought to scholarly attention only in 1992. A remarkable achievement for its day, it is especially noteworthy for its depiction of the upper Texas coast, which had scarcely been explored previously.” For more on Barreiro, see: Horace Capel, “Los ingenieros militares y su actuación en Canarias” in Actuación de los Ingenieros Militares en Canarias, siglos XVI al XX, Santa Cruz de Tenerife: Centro de Historia y Cultura de la Zona Militar de Canarias/Universidad de La Laguna, 2001, págs. 13-54.

     Barreiro’s map, in addition to its geographic advancement, is also important for its documentation of Native Americans in the Southwest, Texas, and the Borderlands. Juliana Barr in her interesting article ““Geography of Power: Mapping Indian Borders in the ‘Borderlands’ of the Early Southwest” (full citation in second paragraph above) chose Texas as the focus of her scholarly exploration: “The seventeenth- and eighteenth century North American region that became present-day Texas—in the heart of what scholars call the Spanish borderlands—is an ideal place within which to explore the variability of Indian borders due to its different native political economies.” Barr reproduces Barreiro’s map and also discusses that of Miguel Custodio Durán <>, both of which emphasize Native populations and their lands, highlighting that in early America, Native Americans controlled vast reaches of North America. A close look at the present map reveals that the great majority of notations on the map relate to Native Americans. Barr maintains that the nature of the maps of Barreiro and Dúran imply a perception and acceptance by the French and Spanish of Native American control of their own lands, whereas their British counterparts were more likely to ignore the idea of Indian sovereignty. Regardless of whether one accepts that theory or not, it is interesting to note how the two cartographers depicted Native Americans lands in the region. Durán covered his map with human figures of Indians in the landscape. Jack Jackson (p. 241) states the Barreiro’s 1728 map had shown Indian rancherías as clusters of houses (some of which in reality were very substantial, according to Barr), but the 1770 Surville copy of Barreiro’s original map switches the houses to be teepees. By the time of this printed 1803 version by López, the teepees are converted to dots.


Sold. Hammer: $19,000.00; Price Realized: $23,275.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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