Stephen F. Austin’s Cornerstone Map of Texas

The 1836 Issue, Locating for the first time “Fort Alamo” and the Battle of San Jacinto

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240. [MAP]. AUSTIN, Stephen F[uller]. Map of Texas with Parts of the Adjoining States Compiled by Stephen F. Austin Published by H.S. Tanner Philadelphia Note. The Latitude and Longitude of Saltillo Monterey Laredo Bexar Nacogdoches and the Point where the boundary line leaves the Sabine are from the observations of General Teran of the Mexican Army. 1836. Scale of Miles...Engraved by John & Wm. M. Warr Phila. [above title at lower right, coat of arms of Mexico (eagle perched atop a prickly pear cactus and devouring a snake; above the eagle floats a Liberty Cap; each of the cactus pads is engraved with the name of a Mexican state; Texas is still shown on a pad as Coahuila y Tejas, as are New Mexico and Alta California)]; [inset text at lower left discussing topography of the land in Northern Mexico; some requirements upon land contractors; table setting forth the number of families in each of the Texas grants; and explanation of the term league] Note. The country South West and West of Monclova is very mountainous and generally destitute of Timber... By the terms on which land is acquired in Texas... Grant to Col. Austin 1100 [families]... The colonization Laws of Mexico grant to the family of each actual settler, one square league...; [below neat line at lower left] Engraved according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1835, by H.S. Tanner in the Clerk’s Office of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, 1836. Copper-engraved map on bank note paper, original color, Texas divided into grants, each of which has full color, boundaries outlined in orange, borders with pink wash; neat line to neat line: 74.9 x 59.2 cm; overall sheet size: 76.1 x 59.8 cm. Original pocket covers present (15.5 x 9.4 cm), original purple cloth embossed with floral design, original blue paper label with Greek key border, printed: Map of Texas By General Austin. Map backed with archival tissue which is float-mounted on archival board. A few small voids where formerly folded with repair at upper right corner (consolidated by backing), a bit of minor soiling and offsetting, pocket covers slightly faded at edges. A very good copy with excellent, strong color and the elusive pocket covers present. The 1836 edition of Austin’s map is very rare.  We find no copies in the auction records going back to 1975.  We sold the Morrow-Josey by private treaty in 1987.

     This is the 1836 issue of Austin’s map (first printed in 1830). This issue is the first to show the battle of the Alamo (Fort Alamo) and the Battle of San Jacinto. The latter is located at the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and San Jacinto River near Lynchburg, and it is marked with a flag and text: Battle 21 April 1836. Austin’s map was epochal in many ways. It was the first large scale map of Texas with any semblance of accuracy. Taliaferro remarks (in Cohen, see below): “No part of the West had been previously mapped on such a large scale and in such detail. It was the first significant map to show the results of the Anglo-American immigration to Texas, and it was the work of the man who was responsible for that immigration—the Father of Modern Texas.”

     Austin’s remarkable 1830 map of Texas had a relatively long life, with issues following in 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837, 1839, and 1840 (even later issues exist, such as 1845 and 1846). Austin’s map remained the standard and was used by others who published maps of Texas in that pivotal era. As late as 1844, Emory (see herein) cited Austin’s map as a primary source for his map published by the United States government officially recognizing the boundaries of the Republic of Texas. Austin intended his map to aid and assist Texas immigration, and—first issue to last—it was indeed a powerful magnet in attracting emigrants to Texas. Given the long range effects of Texas colonization on U.S. westward expansion and the eventual acquisition of the Southwest, Austin’s maps are primary documents in the field of Western Americana.

     Austin chose well in his selection of Henry Schenck Tanner’s prominent cartographic firm to engrave and distribute his map of Texas. Tanner (1786-1858), engraver and publisher, is “thought to be the first native-born American to devote his life to publishing” (Tooley). He and his brother Benjamin were partners in the firm of Tanner, Vallance, Kearny & Company until Henry went on his own to publish The New American Atlas (1819). “He established his well-known publishing company in Philadelphia and was the first person in the United States to publish a map of Texas, using Stephen F. Austin’s 1829 [manuscript] map. His map was published in 1830 and went through eight editions. Tanner is best known for his New American Atlas, published in five parts from 1818 to 1823, with a last edition published in 1839. He died in New York in 1858” (Handbook of Texas Online: Henry Schenck Tanner). In addition to the faithful transfer from Austin’s manuscript to handsome copper-engraved image, Tanner’s firm created an exceedingly beautiful, finely executed map. The only complaint that might be leveled at Tanner is that he would not allow Stephen F. Austin to make the map available to Austin’s cousin, Mary Austin Holley for her wonderful book Texas: Observations, Historical, Geographical and Descriptive, which was intended to promote immigration to Texas. Stephen and Mary regrouped and used a map, based on Austin’s work, engraved by William Hooker in place of the large Tanner map.

     All issues of Austin’s maps possess intrinsic worth and desirability, and all are very rare and difficult to find in collector’s condition. Surely the two most desirable issues are the first (1830) and the present 1836 edition, which documents and is contemporary with the events of 1836, which changed Texas and the West forever. Streeter in the introduction to Part 3 of his bibliography of Texas ranks Austin’s map as one of the top forty imprints for a Texas collection (p. 327). Mr. Streeter continues with a discussion of high spots of Texana by selecting the six most important maps of Texas. Of course, the Austin map is one those six. He designates his 1830 edition “as the map of Texas I most the founder of present-day Texas, showing on a large scale, and for the first time, the result of American emigration to Texas” (p. 329).

     For more on Austin and his map, see: Bryan & Hanak, Texas in Maps, pp. 10-12 (discussion of evolution of the printed map); Plate 21 (1830 issue). Castañeda & Martin, Three Manuscript Maps of Texas by Stephen F. Austin (Austin: Privately printed, 1930). Contours of Discovery, p. 24: “When Stephen F. Austin undertook his colonial venture in 1821, the new era opened not only in the cultural and diplomatic history of Texas, but in its cartographic history as well.... [Austin’s map] stands as a watershed in the history of the state.” Amon Carter Museum Exhibit, Crossroads of Empire (June 12-July 26, 1981) 31. Day, Maps of Texas, p. 18 (1833 issue, photostat); p. 20 (1835 issue, reproduction); p. 12 (1836 issue, photograph); p. 25 (1837 issue, photostat); p. 32 (1840 issue). Eberstadt, Texas 162:43 (1840 issue). Fifty Texas Rarities 10 (1830 issue). Graff 117 (1830 issue). Hayes, Historical Atlas of the American West, pp. 80-83: Map 151 (1830 issue). Howes A404 (1830, 1836 & 1837 issues). McCorkle & Miles, America Emergent 42n (citing one of Austin’s ca. 1827 manuscript maps): “Although Anglo-Americans began arriving in Texas in 1821, the first important map of their settlements was not published until 1830.” Mapoteca Colombiana, p. 28, #39 (1839 issue). Martin, “Maps of an Empresario” (Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Vol. 84, No. 4, April, 1982, pp. 371-400). Martin & Martin, pp. 32 & 52 (Color Plate VII); pp. 120-121 & Plate 29 (1830 issue). Raines, p. 250 (1835 issue). Schwartz & Ehrenberg, Color Plate 154 & p. 253 (1830 issue).

     Streeter 1115D: “The 1836 Austin map shows the grants as before with some place names added, the most important being Galveston and Velasco.” TCU, Going to Texas: Five Centuries of Texas Maps, p. 34, Color Plate 21 (illustrating 1840 issue). Virga, Texas: Mapping the Lone Star State through History, p. 26n (color illustration of the 1837 issue).

     Henry Taliaferro in Paul E. Cohen’s, Mapping the West (pp. 110-113, color illustration on p. 111) citing the 1830 issue and elaborating on the importance of Austin’s map of Texas:

Few early maps of the American West have the importance, or romance, of Stephen F. Austin’s Map of Texas with Parts of the Adjoining States.... All editions are so rare and sought-after that Austin’s map commands a higher price in the market place than any other nineteenth-century American map. This is largely attributable to the great interest Texans have always exhibited for their state and history. At the time the map was published, the Anglo settlements in Texas were the vanguard of the American Western movement; the excellence of Austin’s map makes it one of the most important maps of Texas—not only for the state’s history, but also for documenting the early trans-Mississippi West.

     Jack Jackson provides a penetrating overview of Austin’s map in Shooting the Sun, Vol. II, pp. 452-459 (1840 issue illustrated on p. 454):

Austin’s role as an initiator of the “modern period” of Texas cartography is secure.... All maps are the result of painstaking compilation, and Austin’s contribution ranks with the best. Austin took the most current sources he could find on Texas and drew a ground-breaking map from them. Much of what he put on paper was based on his own observations and had greater value because of it. Moreover, Austin brought his map to publication, giving the world a better view of the geography of Texas than any man had presented in the foregoing 140 years.

How the appearance of Austin’s 1830 map may have directly contributed to that change of flags remains a nettlesome matter of debate. Certainly it aroused a great interest concerning Texas within the United States, and led men like Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston to look with longing eyes across the Sabine. Just as his map pointed out the roads to Texas and access to it by sea, it also told immigrants whom they must deal with when they arrived. Empresario grants became a common feature on the maps of Texas published in the wake of Austin’s pioneering effort, and even Tanner began to add such information to reissues of the 1830 map.... Americans were bound and determined to acquire title to that land, just as Austin knew they would be.

Further, the excellence of Austin’s map was recognized during his lifetime. Berlandier, for example, wrote that: “Even the most recent maps leave a great deal to be desired with regard to what is relative to Texas.... The most complete and the most exact work is due to colonization of Texas. The entrepreneur Mr. Stephen Austin, who has gathered much scientific data, has lately published a map of Texas which most closely approaches the truth.” Berlandier, as a scientist, could appreciate the merit of Austin’s map even while regretting the course of events in Texas that the map helped foster—by spurring American immigration, thereby sealing the political fate of the territory. Austin’s map remained a model for many of the other maps that attempted to cash in on the Texas land mania that swept the United States prior to the Revolution....

Old maps give us a sense of a land being formed from the mists of time. Through them we witness the birth process—our own as well as the land itself. We see recorded on maps the mistakes and wrong turns of our forefathers, but gradually their insights into the true nature of the terrain become manifest. These mapmakers told us who lived on the land and where, what marvelous things existed in those places, and how to reach them. Their greed shows in the legends they chose to fix on their maps, and their folly, too, but also their hope that Texas would be the new beginning that mankind periodically needs to redeem itself. It has proved to be such a place for many people over the centuries, and maps are our links to that common heritage. An appreciation of them, I believe, helps us to value our history and the many cultures that took part in making these maps from the time that Texas was first spied in the distance. Maps are windows to the past, having a power that few other historical documents possess. Most of all, they remind us of what was a necessary step on the road to determining what we will be.

     For direct insight into Austin and the details of publication his map, here are a few extracts from the Austin Papers that connect the man Austin with his momentous map:

Thomas F. Leaming, Austin’s kinsman in Philadelphia, to Austin, May 8, 1828, Austin Papers, 2:2, p. 37:

I applied to Mr. Tanner as you suggested respecting publishing a map of Texas to which he acceded eagerly. He said that he would be at all the expense of engr[aving] and publishing and [furnish] you with a certain number of copies to be hereafter agreed upon. He supposed that as Coahuila was a part of the provinces of Texas you meant to include that.... I have just seen Mr. Tanner and he thinks the map should be about 45 x 33 inches and advised your laying it down on that scale. He says he could allow you more than a dozen copies for yourself as he must rely considerably on the sale by you to disburse the expenses.

Stephen F. Austin to Henry Austin, August 27, 1829, Austin Papers 2:2, p. 251:

I have sent my map to T.F. Leaming of Philadelphia (a distant relative by Mother’s side) to have it engraved— It is accurate in the general, but cannot be minutely so because it has not all been compiled from actual survey.

Stephen F. Austin to Thomas F. Leaming, June 14, 1830, Austin Papers 2:2, pp. 413-417:

I have as yet heard nothing of the Map of Texas, since I forwarded it the surveys have been considerably extended and I could now form a much more accurate map, tho the ones I sent gives a very correct general idea of the country and is fully as correct as the first maps of new countries usually are and I think more so, it cost me great labor and trouble and considerable expense— My object was not individual profit, it was to bring this country forward into public view, for it has been literally buried in obscurity up to the last year— ...last year I found that the Govt. were beginning to become suspicious that this country was of more value than they supposed it was, Genl Teran passed through here, and saw it. I found that something must be done to draw emigration and I determined to have the Map published as the Most effectual means of operating on an intelligent people, and the least dangerous with the Mexicans, for not many of them know any thing about maps—unfortunately about this time “Americanus” [articles written by Thomas H. Benton in the St. Louis Beacon, August 1 & 8, 1829] and other publications appeared and Texas became a general topic of discussion in the U.S. Papers.... I hope Tanner may make a fortune out of the map, if so, he must send me one [of] his best bound general Atlases—

Stephen F. Austin to Ramón Músquiz and Lorenzo de Zavala, July 23, 1829, Austin Papers, 2:2, pp. 236-238 (translation):

My purpose [in making the map] has been to add to the fund of geographic knowledge of Mexican territory, and to make known our beloved the Mexicans and to the world, because it has been submerged in obscurity for centuries and is still very little known.... How can we save the Rio Grande frontier and Texas...? There is one sure and effective way, which is to quickly foment the emigration of civilized people, and to make Texas a State in the Mexican and protect the Rio Grande frontier without costing the government a thing. One glace at the map will satisfy anyone that the security of the States of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Tamaulipas, and even Nuevo León and New Mexico depend entirely upon keeping a dense and vigorous population in Texas.


Sold. Hammer: $200,000.00; Price Realized: $245,000.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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