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1845 Pelham Land Office Map of Arkansas

Arkansas. - Main View

1845 Pelham Land Office Map of Arkansas


Arkansas townships.


  1845 (dated)     16.5 x 18 in (41.91 x 45.72 cm)     1 : 1383166


This is an 1845 William Pelham map of Arkansas illustrating state has platted into neat square townships. The township was created as the measure of the Public Land Survey System, which was first widely implemented to survey the Northwest Ordinance. The Public Land Survey System allowed for the systematic surveying and mapping of any territory gained by the United States. Cities and towns are labeled, including Little Rock, Hot Springs, and Pine Bluff. Rivers and creeks are illustrated and labeled.
Publication History and Census
This map was created under the supervision of William Pelham, Surveyor of Public Lands, and published in a report to the United States Senate in 1845. We note three examples cataloged in OCLC, but the volume from which it came is well represented.


William Pelham (April 10, 1803 - June 8, 1879) was an American surveyor. Born near Maysville, Kentucky, Pelham was the eighth of eleven children. His father, Charles Pelham, served in Patrick Henry's First Virginia Regiment during the Revolutionary War and fought at White Plains, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. He attained the rank of major before being captured as a prisoner of war after the surrender of Charleston by General Benjamin Lincoln. In 1826, Pelham went to Arkansas to work with his older brother Charles Pelham Jr. at the U.S. General Land Office as a chain carrier. (His brother was a Deputy Surveyor). In 1830 he was appointed by President Andrew Jackson to survey the boundary between the Arkansas Territory and Louisiana, a promotion which is believed to have been the benefit of nepotism and political favoritism. The following year, Pelham married Mary Ann Conway (the younger sister of his boss James Conway, who was the Boundary Commissioner) two weeks before her sixteenth birthday. This proved to be an advantageous marriage for Pelham, as James Conway became the first Governor of the State of Arkansas in 1836 and the extended family was prominent in Democratic politics. Conway became Surveyor General of Arkansas in June 1832 and Pelham received surveying contracts in partnership with the Conways and on his own. He was elected Territorial Auditor in November 1833 and served until 1835. He was appointed Surveyor General of Arkansas on April 7, 1841, the day after John Tyler became President. Pelham, however, was not a devoted Whig, because when Henry Clay lost to Democrat James K. Polk four years later, Pelham fired every clerk in his office that had voted for Clay. That move earned him four more years as Surveyor General, until the Whigs and Zachary Taylor came into office in 1849. After being forced out of office, Pelham and his family moved to Texas, eventually landing in Travis County south of Austin, where his family lived for thirty years beginning in the summer of 1850. On August 1, 1854, President Pierce named Pelham the first Surveyor General for the Territory of New Mexico. It took Pelham months to get to Santa Fe, finally opening the office on December 28. He resigned the position of August 29, 1860, due to frustrations stemming from lack of funding, not enough staff, and too many tasks to accomplish. His successor (who had been one of Pelham's students) immediately awarded Pelham a contract to survey in the Las Vegas area, which was what he was doing at the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861. Pelham was arrested in June 1861 as 'a rank secessionist' who was working to sway public opinion in favor of the Confederacy. An army of Texas Volunteers invaded New Mexico in March 1862 and occupied Santa Fe. After freeing Pelham from jail, they named him Governor of the intended Confederate New Mexico, although there are no official records that this ever happened. Historical rumor states that he planned on making Albuquerque the territorial capital and had issued a decree that citizens had to declare loyalty to the Confederacy. However, in early April, the Union army retook Santa Fe, which ended Pelham's political career, who departed with the fleeing Texans. He was captured by Union forces not long after and remained a political prisoner until some time in 1863. In 1864, his only son died fighting for the Confederacy at Dalton, Georgia. Pelham's support of the Confederacy ended his career working for the General Land Office and as a Surveyor of the Public Domain. He died June 8, 1879. Intriguingly, Pelham is remembered in Arkansas for his 'deeply flawed' surveys. One of his successors, Granville McPherson, had to resurvey most, if not all, of the land covered by Pelham. McPherson had very little respect for Pelham's work, calling one of his surveys 'as false as the Black Prince of Hades'. Pelham surveyed 188 Arkansas townships between 1821 and 1845. The Arkansas General Land Office resurveyed 185 townships surveyed by Pelham because of 'fraud and error' beginning in 1845. Learn More...

The General Land Office (GLO) (1812 - 1946) was an independent agency of the United States government responsible for public domain lands in the United States. Created in 1812, it took over functions previously conducted by the Department of the Treasury. The GLO oversaw the surveying, platting, and sale of public lands in the western United States. It also administered the Preemption Act of 1841, which allowed individuals who were already living on federal land to purchase up to 160 acres of land before it was offered for sale to the general public, if they met certain requirements. Following the passage of the Homestead Act in 1862, which was also administered by the GLO, claims under the Preemption Act sharply decreased. The GLO became a part of the newly-created Department of the Interior in 1849. In 1891 Grover Cleveland and Congress created 17 forest reserves, due to public concern over forest conservation, which were initially managed by the GLO, until they were transferred to the Forest Service in 1905. In 1946 the Government Land Office was merged with the United States Grazing Service to become the Bureau of Land Management. Today the Bureau of Land Management administers the roughly 246 million acres of public land remaining under federal ownership. Learn More...


Good. Foxing. Light wear along original fold lines.


OCLC 27455275.