One of the Earliest Maps of Illinois
"Map of the Bounty Lands in Illinois Territory", Gardiner, John
Subject: Western Illinois
Period: 1818 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
14.8 x 18.5 inches
37.6 x 47 cm
By the time of the Revolutionary War, the practice of awarding bounty land as an inducement for enlisting in the military had been a long-standing practice in colonial North America. Besides imperial bounty land grants, both colonial and municipal governments routinely compensated participants in and victims of military conflicts with land. Land was a commodity in generous supply, and governments seized upon its availability for accomplishing their goals.
Following this tradition, the Revolutionary governments used bounty land grants in their struggle for independence from Great Britain. They generally offered free lands in exchange for military service, provided they were victorious in their struggle. Thus, bounty lands were an effective technique for enrolling support for the war and encouraging re-enlistments. Generally the bounty lands were located on the western frontier, which provided another benefit to the government. Populating the frontier with citizens skilled in defense offered the best prospect in enticing other settlers to join them, thus eventually increasing the tax rolls.
According to Streeter, this seldomly seen map of Illinois Territory is the "earliest Illinois Map." It is also listed in Phillips A List of Maps of America as the first map under the Illinois header.
The map itself covers the western portion of Illinois between the Mississippi River and the Illinois River, from just north of St. Louis to just south of Davenport, Iowa. Lake Peoria is here called Lake Peoire and the creek just to its west that flows into the Illinois River is labeled Kickaboo or Red Bud Cr. Below the map image is a printed grid with an area colored in red that corresponds to a tract in the map with the manuscript notation "Gentle rolling prairie rich soil fit for Cultivation" and signed by John Gardiner. Most, if not all, of these maps would have included similar notations regarding each tract of land that was being awarded. On verso is a manuscript signature of Fowler Preston of Granby, Hampshire County, Massachusetts that states he was "on his way to Illinois."
John Gardiner was the chief clerk of the General Land Office until 1821. Following the War of 1812, the GLO was tasked with surveying the frontier lands and quickly distributing them to war veterans as payment for their services.
References: Streeter #1430; Phillips (Maps) pg. 326.
Issued folding and now flattened with minor foxing, several tiny minuscule holes along the folds, and numerous fold separations that have been archivally repaired on verso with minor loss of image.