Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001 Page: 16
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A Cartographic History of Texas
1601 (Fig. 3, this page) Herrera y Tordesillas,
Antonio de. Descripcion de las Yndias del Norte in
"Descripci6n de las Indias Occidentalis." Madrid, 1601.
Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas, an outstanding
scholar with access to information in
the archives in Spain, published his four-volume
monumental work documenting Spain's
explorations and settlement in the western
hemisphere from 1492 to 1555, in "Descripci6n
de las Indias Occidentalis." The ...Yndias del
Norte is one of 14 maps in the work. Although
the general outline of the continent is essentially
correct, the scarcity of information on
this and the other maps in the volumes reflects
the official Spanish policy of not disseminating
exploration information for fear that other
nations would use this information to threaten
1688 (Fig. 1, p. 15) Coronelli, Vincenzo
Maria. America Septentrionale. Venice, 1688.
The Franciscan monk and royal geographer
to the Republic of Venice, Coronelli, had
access to geographical information from the
explorers in the southwestern region of North
America. His depiction of the location of the
Mississippi River in the middle of Northern
New Spain was based on information from the
first La Salle expedition down the Mississippi
River. Some scholars have noted that the error
might explain the disaster of the colonization
efforts of La Salle. Despite that error and the
depiction of California as an island, Coronelli's
map records the exploration of the continent.
1718 (Fig. 5, p. 17) Delisle, Guillaume. Carte de
la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississipi... Paris, 1718.
This landmark map was produced in the
French court by Delisle, who was noted for his
scientific approach to mapping. This map
shows, for the first time, a derivation of the
name Texas when the mapmaker labeled the
"misiones de las Tejas etablie en 1716" on the
upper Trinity River in what is now north central
Texas. In addition, the map has an accurate
portrayal of the Mississippi River, an improved
depiction of Texas rivers and the coast, and a
delineation of the land routes of the important
explorers Soto, Moscosco, La Salle, Leon, and
St. Denis. The map included Natchitoches on
the Red River, which had been established the
year before, indicating the timeliness of
Delisle's information. For nearly 100 years, this
map provided the basis for many commercially
1728 (Fig. 2, p. 15) Barreiro, Francisco. Piano
Corographico e Hydrographico de las Provincias.. .de
la Nueba Espana. [1728, manuscript].
The manuscript map was drawn by Francisco
Barreiro, "Chief Engineer of the Province of
Texas," to accompany the inspection report of
Pedro de Rivera, 1724-1728. Barreiro, prior to
his assignment for the Rivera expedition, had
accompanied Governor Martin de Alarcon's
expedition into Texas and carried out assignments
to survey the provinces of Sonora,
Ostimuri, and Sinaloa, making him one of the
most knowledgeable engineers of the region.
for Texas is revealed in
the 18th century French
maps of the continent
and the region.
His map was produced from ten surveying
trips in the three years and seven months of his
assignment with Rivera and included written
descriptions as well as the inspection map. His
instructions included making astronomical
observations, calculating the longitude and latitude
for each presidio, and marking the villages,
mining districts, and boundaries of the
provinces in the region. In addition, Barriero
also surveyed the coast between the Guadalupe
and Neches rivers. He noted that Texas had
only three settlements, Los Adaes, la Bahia and
San Antonio de Bejar.
1768 (Fig. 8, p. 19) Alzate y Ramirez, Jose.
Nuevo Mapa Geogrdfico de la America
Septentrional. Paris, 1768.
Alzate y Ramirez, an Enlightenment scientist
and Mexican-born cleric, published this map of
North America based on his access to official
reports and sketches of the expeditions in the
early 18th century that could be found in
Mexico, including Barreiro's. He is credited
with naming the region "Provincia de los Texas"
on a published map. In the Texas region, Alzate
has noted a number of Spanish missions, including
San Antonio de Bejar, Adaes, San Saba,
Nrs. Sena. del Loreto, San Juan Capistrano, and
San Antonio Concepcion. The map's depiction
of the rivers is somewhat distorted, and several
are omitted or incorrectly delineated, indicating
a problem with accurate geographical information
about the northern provinces available to
1810 (Back Cover) Humboldt, Alexander
von. A Map of New Spain from 16 to 38
North Latitude... London: Longman, Hurst,
Rees, Orme and Brown, 1810.
Von Humboldt, the leading scientist of his
day, produced the map as part of his detailed
Fig. 3 Herrera y Tordesillas, Antonio de. Descripcion
de las Yndias del Norte .... 1601.
HERITAGE * 16 * 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/m1/16/: accessed June 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.