Maps of Georgia, 1729-1779
Herman Moll’s 1729 map of Carolina, which is known as the Azilia Map, contains only a little more information about this region than what appeared on his 1720 “A New Map of the North Parts of America claimed by France . . . .” Both identified the future Georgia as Azilia. Sir Robert Montgomery requested that he be granted the land between the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers as a military buffer south of Carolina. His descriptions presented the land’s natural beauty as being a “Paradise” and labeled the Golden Islands along the coast. His proposal to create the Margravate of Azilia never rose about the level of a plan. On his 1720 map, Moll identified the area as the Margravate of Azilia in 1720 but only as Azilia in 1729, perhaps realizing the failure of Montgomery’s scheme.
In both his 1720 and 1729 maps, Moll trumpeted the military triumphs of the Charlestonians against the Spanish and the Indians. Both maps note the location of St. Maria de Palxy, a Spanish Apalachee Indian mission, destroyed by the English in 1705. Moll noted the contributions of Captain Thomas Nairn to his 1720 map; he had served as a commander in the raid against the Apalachees before being killed by the Yamassee in 1715. In 1720 Moll notes the victories of the English against the Indians in 1712 and 1716.
Moll’s information about Captain Nairn and warfare on the frontier might well have come from the contacts Moll developed at Jonathan’s coffee house in London that was frequented by well-known literati and adventurers, including pirates.
The first printed map of colonial Georgia, it appeared in two states or versions. The map shown above is a contemporary reproduction and enlargement of the second state. Benjamin Martyn as secretary to the Trustees of Georgia published two pamphlets that included these maps. The first imprint appeared in the 1732 Some Account of the Designs of the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America and the second in the 1733 Reasons for Establishing the Colony of Georgia . . . Historical geographer Louis De Vorsey noted several changes in the two versions and believes that James Oglethorpe possibly altered the map to make the region appear less warlike to potential settlers. In the second version, Spanish St. Augustine is located about 70 miles too far to the south and outside of the territory claimed by England. Also omitted from the second state are two prominent inscriptions dealing with Indians and war. Along a trail that follows the Chattahoochee River from central Georgia down into central Florida is written, “the Road of Ochese going to war” and in large letters across the southern portion of the Florida peninsula appears, “Here the Carolina India[ns] leave their Canoes when they war with the Floridians.” Oglethorpe and the trustees, who were seeking colonists from the continent, did not want such descriptions on the Georgia maps being reprinted in European cities, such as this version from Amsterdam.
The precise history of this map, drawn a year after the settlement of Savannah, is shrouded in mystery, but most scholars see the hand of James Edward Oglethorpe, “Georgia’s cartographically astute founder,” as being involved in drawing and distributing it. Strong evidence suggests it was based on a sketch that Oglethorpe carried back to England in 1734. Whether the plate was engraved in England or Germany is unclear, but it subsequently appeared during the 1730s and 1740s in Samuel Urlsperger’s “Salzberger Tracts,” publications designed to attract new settlers to Georgia. Another theory proposes that because of its title the map dates from the creation of the County of Savannah in 1740-41.
(Quote from Cumming & De Vorsey, 250-51.)
Benjamin Martyn, the secretary for the Georgia Trustees, published a history of the first nine years of their experiment in social engineering. This volume contained a chronology, reports of the Trustees, letters from James Oglethorpe, and a copy of this map by R. W. Seale. The strength of this map is its delineation of the early settlements. An insert gives a detailed view of St. Simon’s where Oglethorpe established Frederica as an outpost against the Spanish. The information for this area might well have come from Oglethorpe while he was in England trying to recruit troops for the Georgia frontier. This insert map shows the trail between that fort and the barracks to south, where Oglethorpe defeated the Spanish in the Battle of Bloody Marsh in 1742.
The cartographer for this image, hopefully not Oglethorpe, failed to accurately interpret the waterways. The Ogeechee River is shown as parallel and co-equal with the Savannah. A “R Undiscovered” flows from a swamp southwest of Augusta and ends without reaching any other body of water. The Alatamaha splits into two main rivers and the southern branch flows to the ocean at the location of what should be the mouth of the St. Mary’s. Both Talbot and Amelia Islands are shown inside Georgia rather than in Florida, a reality Oglethorpe would have endorsed.
Emanuel Bowen’s map shows the full width of the Georgia colony from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River or French territory in 1748. Harris first published his atlas in 1705 and for the 1744-48 and 1764 editions added a chapter on the history of Georgia illustrated by this map. According to Cummings, this work is similar to Bowen’s other maps of this period but is on a larger scale.
Bowen is rather generous with the boundaries of Georgia; he places the G in Georgia on the west side of the Mississippi in land claimed by France, England’s chief rival at that point. Bowen also notes trails used for the Indian trade and the location of various Indian groups. More importantly he indicates whether they are in amity with the French or the English. A note between the Oconee and Ocmulgee Rivers states, “The Cherokees, Creeks, and Chikasaws assisted General Oglethorpe in the Wars against the Spaniards.” Bowen inaccurately depicts the Chattahoochee as a short river while the Flint extends into the mountains.
Georgia attracted a large group of Lutherans who were expelled by the Catholic bishop of Salzburg in the 1730s. The English “Society for Promoting Christain Knowledge” financed the voyage of the first group. Their first settlement in Georgia on the Ebenezer River proved to be an inhospitable area, and they relocated to the banks of the Savannah River. This map shows their new, rationally laid-out settlement and was designed to attract more religious immigrants. This appeared in Samuel Urlsperger’s “Saltzburger Tracts.”
De Brahm, an engineer/surveyor who arrived in Georgia with the Salzburgers, executed the first large-scale southern map that possessed topographical accuracy. He used the scientific surveys of others and conducted his own for several years. This large map, which primarily focuses on the coast, consists of four panels, each measuring 24 x 26½ inches. De Brahm’s work is significant in that most of the surveys he used have not survived, and his work became the basis for later maps.
Perhaps the last map printed of Georgia as a colony, this appeared in J. Hinton’s Universal Magazine, one of several gentlemen’s magazines circulating in London. During the American Revolution, Hinton’s journal included maps of all of the American provinces, a term resented by American rebels after 1776.
This attractive map presents accurate details along the coast, including the names of many creeks flowing into major rivers, but its maker did not consult the latest and best authorities in preparing this work. Specific information about the interior is lacking or inaccurate, and only a few Indian towns are noted.
Since none of Georgia’s boundaries had been surveyed by 1777, the vagueness of its borders is understandable. To the north, North Carolina is not shown as a neighboring province. To the south, the line between Florida and Georgia inaccurately follows the 31st parallel all the way to the headwaters of the St. Mary’s River, which is located too far to the west. This boundary, as defined by the British crown in 1763, ran in a straight line from the St. Mary’s headwater (marked in 1800 by Ellicott’s Mound) to the intersection of the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers, which this map places north rather than south of the 31st parallel. The Chattahoochee River, a name that appeared on other maps at least 40 years earlier, is here called the Gr, presumably Great Flint River, and its course is generally north to south for its entire length, an error shared by most maps of this period.