Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Pondering Alabama Maps (8): Shelby County in 1822 and 1825

I've written in a previous blog post "Once Shelbyville, A.T., Now Pelham" about the city's early history as the Shelby County seat. That lasted from 1817 in the Alabama Territory period until 1826, when Columbiana became the county seat. Pelham changed its name to honor Major John Pelham sometime in the 1870's.

Below the photo of the historical marker describing all this you'll find two maps of the county from 1822 and 1825. These snapshots were taken from two maps of Alabama created when the area was still in its first decade after becaming a territory and then a state. Despite this early era, the population of the county was more than 2400 in 1820 and over 5700 by 1830.

The 1822 state map was created by Fielding Lucas, Jr.[1781-1854], a successful cartographer and map publisher in Baltimore in the early 19th century. Lucas was the primary engraver on A Complete Historical, Chronological and Geographical American Atlas published by the firm of Carey & Lea in Philadelphia in 1822. This atlas was the most detailed and important one of the United States at the time of publication. A copy of that first edition is currently for sale at $14, 000, which gives some idea of its importance in the mapping history of the United States. The atlas also included extensive historical background on states, cities, etc. 

The 1825 version of Shelby County's map appeared in a German edition of the Carey and Lea atlas. The work was completely re-engraved under military and commercial cartographer Carl Ferdinand Weiland [1782-1847]. The Shelby County map is a very good copy of Lucas' but slight differences can be found. Compare the western borders of the county on each map, for instance. 

Some other blog posts about Pelham on other historical maps can be found here. You can read more about the only other county town on these maps, Wilsonville, here

This 1822 view of Shelby County is taken from a state map by Fielding Lucas, Jr., and published by Carey and Lea of Philadelphia.

Source: Historical Maps of Alabama

This view of Shelby County appeared in the 1825 German edition of Carey & Lea's atlas.

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