With the first printed map of Dakota Territory, showing Sioux cessions

B[yron] M. Smith and A[lfred] J[ames] Hill / Lith. by Louis Buechner, MAP OF THE CEDED PART OF DAKOTA TERRITORY Showing also portions of MINNESOTA, IOWA & NABRASKA. Compiled by B.M. SMITH and A.J. HILL. St. Paul, 1861.
Lithographic pocket map, ca. 17”h x 22 ¼”w at neat line plus margins, full original wash color. Tipped into pocket with title in gilt and printed endpapers bearing a presentation inscription in ink.

A superb example of the first edition of this rare and important map of the Dakota Territory, published the year it was incorporated by Congress. With a presentation inscription to Alexander Ramsey, the first Territorial Governor of Minnesota.

The main map focuses on the “ceded part of Dakota Territory,” delineated by a faint blue line encompassing roughly the southwestern corner of the Territory sandwiched between the western border of Minnesota, the Missouri River and the 46th parallel. The title is a reference to the Yankton Treaty of 1858, which confirmed the cession by the Yankton Sioux of more than 11 million acres to the Federal government and established the 400,000-acre Yankton Reserve on the north bank of the Missouri. The map also depicts portions of the states of Iowa and Minnesota to the east and southeast as well as the Nebraska Territory to the south, with their boundaries outlined in red. Rivers, streams and some large lakes are shown, many with both their native American and European names, though very few topographical features are indicated. Other salient features include wash color by county and the familiar grid of 6 mile-square townships surveyed by the General Land Office, whose work in Dakota had only just begun. American and native towns, villages and forts are identified; the tracks of explorations by Nicollet, Warren and others are shown by dashed lines; and rail routes are shown as either surveyed or under construction.

Of great interest is the inset “Outline Map of Dakota Territory” at upper left, which to my knowledge is the first printed map of the Territory. It shows Dakota at its fullest extent, encompassing all of present-day North and South Dakota as well as much of Montana, Wyoming and a sliver of Nebraska. The ceded area highlighted on the main map is outlined in blue in the far southeast corner of the territory, while Black Foot and Crow lands are highlighted in orange and green respectively. A solid black line indicates the railroad route surveyed by Isaac I. Stevens in 1853 as he traveled west to assume his duties as governor of the new Washington Territory.

A “Prospectus” on the front endpaper states that it was “issued in the hope that it may be found a valuable traveling companion for immigrants, U. S. deputy surveyors, military officers, and others.” The compilers go on to state that the map was “compiled from the U. S. Land and other official surveys, and, where those have not yet extended, from information derivable from the reports and maps [of] Mons. Nicollet, Lieut. Warren, and other explorers : the surveys of last year in Dakota Territory are embodied.” Smith and Hill’s use of these excellent maps by top-drawer government surveyors made this the best-available map of the area.

B.M. Smith and A. J. Hill
Map compiler B. M. Smith was likely Byron M. Smith, who is described by one source as “born in New York in 1834. Scotch-German ancestry. Farmer and geologist. Removed to Sioux Falls, Dakota, in 1857 arrived in Sioux Falls in 1857…. Died in Minnesota.” Smith was one of the first settlers of Sioux Falls, having arrived as a member of the Dakota Land Company of St. Paul, Minnesota. His collaborator on the map was probably Alfred James Hill of St. Paul (1833-1895). A London native trained as a civil engineer, Smith had emigrated to Minnesota in 1854. In 1857, along with one Joseph Sewall, he issued a Sectional Map of the Surveyed Portion of Minnesota and the Northwestern Part of Wisconsin. Much of his Civil War service was spent in the Corps of Topographical Engineers in Washington. After the war astute land investments brought him wealth, and, prompted by concern about the destruction of Indian mounds and other sites, he drew on this fortune to fund the Northwest Archaeological Survey. The Minnesota Historical Society holds some of his papers, including a number of his manuscript maps.

This example of the map is tipped into a pocket whose front endpaper bears a presentation inscription “from the publishers” to Alexander Ramsey (1815-1903), a Pennsylvania native, first Governor of the Minnesota Territory (1849-53), and second Governor of the State of Minnesota (1860-63). Thereafter he served two terms in the U.S. Senate and as Secretary of War for Rutherford Hayes and James Garfield.

A second edition was published in 1863, featuring a number of new counties and notations of events of the 1862 Sioux War. Both editions are very, very rare: They appeared as successive lots in the 1968 Streeter sale, and the firm of Donald Heald recently sold an example of the second edition, but otherwise I find no record of other examples having changed hands in the past half century.

In sum, a presentation copy of a landmark and rare map of the Dakota Territory, in absolutely superb original condition.

Graff #3835. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 257. Streeter vol. IV #2033. OCLC records holdings of this first edition in 12 institutional collections (as of September 2017). Not in Wheat, Trans-Mississippi West.


Tiny chip and edge tear in lower margin, else superb condition.