1847 Adelsverein map of Texas

Walter Farmer, TEXAS eine geographische Skizze bearbeitet nach Berghaus Länderkunde und den neuesten Forschungen des Prinzen Carl zu Solms Braunfels und anderer Reisenden. NP, 1847.
Separately-issued lithograph, 10 5/8”h x 8 ¾”w at neat line plus margins, outline color.

A very rare map highlighting lands owned by the Adelsverein, a consortium of noblemen dedicated to establishing German colonies in Texas.

Established in 1842 by a group of German noblemen, the mission of the Adelsverein (literally, “Association of Nobles”) was to acquire land in Texas and encourage their countrymen to settle thereon. The goals were to provide economic opportunity for the German proletariat while benefitting German industry by developing sources for raw materials and new markets for finished goods. After some false starts, in 1844 the Adelsverein succeeded in acquiring the Fisher-Miller grant along the Colorado and Llano Rivers, and within just a few years had encouraged some 7000 of their countrymen to emigrate. The endeavor was however beset by poor planning, mismanagement and a certain amount of corruption, and by 1847 the Adelsverein was bankrupt.

The map of Texas offered here was likely produced by the Adelsverein for the benefit of prospective settlers or investors.

“This handsome and relatively detailed map was intended for use by German emigrants to the Adelsverein lands in Texas, which are clearly indicated by outline color. One notable feature of the map is that it shows land distances from Galveston and Indian Point to various locales. The road from Port Lavaca through Victoria, Seguin, New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, and on to Fort San Saba is shown, as is the old King’s Highway between Presidio Rio Grande and Nacogdoches. Mileages between points are also indicated. In far northern Texas, Coffee’s Trading House is located on the Red River. The westernmost feature shown on the map is Presidio Rio Grande; to the east the boundary at the Sabine is shown; to the north the Red River is the last feature; to the south it is Matamoros.

“The first German emigrants under the sponsorship of the Adelsverein arrived in Texas in December of 1844. But ambitious plans soon tragically fell apart. Although the efforts of Solms-Braunfels and the Adelsverein were on their last legs when this map was published, it remains an important indication of continued German interest in emigration to Texas, which continued to occur for many years.” (Dorothy Sloan, Catalog 22, #300)

The map bears no publisher’s imprint, so the circumstances of its production are unclear. However, the wide margins, fold pattern and lack of evidence of binding strongly indicate it was separately published or perhaps remaindered. Sloan offers a few bibliographic observations:

“The only record for the present map we have found is a listing in Katalog der Commerz-Bibliothek in Hamburg (Hamburg, 1864, column 1261), where it is attributed to Walter. It has been asserted that his map is from the following work: F.E. Walther. Texas in sein wahres Licht gestellt…. (Dresden & Leipzig: Arnoldische Buchhandlung, 1848). See: Howes W75; Raines, p. 211; Sabin 101208. However, the present map is not at all similar to the map that appeared in Walther’s book, which is much smaller and covers a far larger area with no particular focus on Texas. This confusion may have arisen due to attributions to sources on the present map, including “Walter.”” (Sloan, ibid.)

In any event the map is a very rare. Sloan was unable to locate another impression, though it appears that University of Texas-Arlington has since acquired one in recent years.

OCLC 829279759 (University of Texas-Arlington only). Not in Day, Maps of Texas; Phillips, Maps of America; Streeter; or Taliaferro, Cartographic Sources in the Rosenberg Library. Background from Louis E. Brister, “Adelsverein,” on the web site of the Texas State Historical Association.


Horizontal fold, docketed in ink and blue pencil on verso.