Territorial-era manuscript map of Louisa County Iowa

Wesley W. Garner, For Louisa County Iowa Territory. Columbus City, March 28, 1846.
Manuscript in blue ink on wove paper with a few annotations in pencil, 16 1/8”h x 18 ¾”w at sheet edge. Ink somewhat faded. Some toning, soiling and staining; long mended horizontal tear at lower left; and some mends and reinforcements along edges, all expertly done.

A very early manuscript map of Louisa County, established in 1836 along the west bank of the Mississippi River on a huge parcel of land known as the Black Hawk purchase. The 6 million-acre parcel had been purchased under duress from the Hauk, Meskwaki and Ho-Chunk peoples after their defeat in the 1832 Black Hawk War.

The map depicts the county is a whole, featuring most prominently the characteristic grid pattern of townships and sections utilized by the General Land Office in its survey of the West. Details of interest include the Mississippi River and tributaries, Columbus City and other settlements, and a section labeled “Black Hawk,” though he had died several years before the map was made.

This seems to be an important map, predating any maps or surveys of the county listed in OCLC. I do find General Land Office surveys of individual six-by-six-mile townships in Louisa County drawn in the 1830s, but nothing so early depicting the county as a whole.

The map was drawn by Col. Wesley W. Garner (18151889), a native of Shrewsbury, York County, Pennsylvania.

“[Garner] came to Louisa County, in 1840, and exchanged his horses to Mr. Latty for 400 acres of land on section 4, township 74, range 4. The land was but partially improved at that time, but the Colonel at once made arrangements for its further improvement and cultivation. In 1845 he moved his family into the county, and made a permanent settlement at Columbus City. Besides managing his large farm, much of his time during the succeeding ten years was spent as a surveyor and civil engineer, quite a thorough knowledge of which he had acquired before coming West. Nearly if not quite all of the public roads, both State and county, in the northern part of Louisa County, were located and surveyed by him, in addition to which he located a number in other parts of the county. He was known as an active, industrious, enterprising man, and one always in the van in matters of improvement.” (Portrait and Biographical Album of Louisa County, Iowa (1889), p. 492)

The same biography assert that “for a time [Garner] was connected with the United States Land Office in a prominent position,” and it is possible that it was in this capacity that he produced this map.