Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001 Page: 10
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Austin, Stephen F. Map of Texas with Parts of the
Adjoining States, 1830. (See front cover for enlargement)
Courtesy of The Center for American History,
The University of Texas at Austin.
(Right) Austin, Stephen F. Mapa geographico de la provincia
de Texas, por don Estevan Austin, 1822. [manuscript],
Courtesy of The Witte Museum, San Antonio.
T he empresario Stephen E Austin is well known for his colonization efforts in
Texas, but he also published the most accurate map of the region during his lifetime.
He intended to provide settlers, especially North Americans, a view of the
opportunities that flourished in the province during the years after Mexican independence.
Austin sought an instrument for furthering his colonial venture. In 1823, he wrote
that a map of the territory would "add to the fund of geographic knowledge of Mexican
territory, and make known our beloved Texas...to the Mexicans and to the world,
because it has been submerged in obscurity for centuries and is still little known." In
compiling and publishing his map, Austin followed the example of centuries of mapmakers
and cartographers who sought to display the complexities of the land
and the people.
-BegiBeginning his quest to make Texas known, Austin, in 1821, explored and
-I mapped the area where his colony was to be located. When recruiting settlers
to his Texas colony, Austin advised them in the settlement document that
they would be required to aid in the soundings along the coast and at the
mouths of the rivers they encountered. ("Sounding" is the technique of determining
the depth of the water at certain positions.)
In addition, the first group of settlers included the surveyor, Nicholas
Rightor, who Austin commissioned to sketch the region between the Brazos
and Lavaca rivers. Austin continued to obtain cartographic information while
in Mexico City in 1822 pursuing confirmation of his grant. There he acquired
a manuscript map copied from a Franciscan priest, Father Jose Maria de Jesus
Puelles, who had been stationed at Nacogdoches. The Puelles map, dated
1807, contained accurate information on the eastern rivers of Texas, a valuable
addition to the cartographic information Austin was gathering.
Like cartographers who came before him, Austin used all his knowledge of
previously published materials on the region, the Puelles map, information he
had gathered from his own explorations, and the data contributed by his
colonists and surveyors to produce a hand-drawn map. The manuscript map
displayed the country from a little east of the Sabine River to about the 104th meridian
in the west, and from about the 34th parallel in the north, southward to the mouth of
the Nueces River (see map, page 11). This was the territory of Austin's Texas.
Austin copied his map a number of times, submitting it with petitions to the Mexican
government, to individuals interested in his venture, and even to a map publisher in
London. He continued to gather information from acquaintances and colonists as well
HERITAGE * 10 * WINTER 2001
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001, periodical, Winter 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45384/m1/10/: accessed July 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.