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Description

Fine example of John Gardiner's map of the Illinois Bounty Lands, the earliest obtainable map to name Illinois and an important map in the early settlement of Illinois Territory.

Streeter notes "[t]his is the first map that Phillips lists under Illinois and it is perhaps the first map showing a considerable part of Illinois with "Illinois" in the title". There are two editions of the map, one of which includes a printed grid.

The present example is signed by John Gardiner and includes a lengthy note describing the parcel located in the area highlighted in yellow on the map. While we have seen several examples of the map in the past 20 years, we have never seen a copy signed by Gardiner, which also includes a testimonial like description of a parcel on the map and identification of the land grant in color.

Description of the SE 1/4 of section 35 in township 4N of range 7 West. A stream in this quarter section. Part gently rolling woods and good soil. Part Level Rich prairie. Timber Oak & Hickory Underwood Hazel &c. Your lot is black in the yellow township.

John Gardiner

Following the War of 1812, there was a need to reward veterans and to continue the westward expansion process set in motion by President Jefferson, now that the results of the Lewis & Clark, Pike, Dunbar and Freeman & Custis expeditions had been published and the War with England resolved.

In May 1812, an act of Congress was passed which set aside bounty lands as payment to volunteer soldiers for the War against the British (War of 1812). The land was set aside in western territories that became part of the present states of Arkansas, Michigan and Illinois. One of the three districts (or "tracts") created to meet the warrants given in the War of 1812 was within a triangle of the Illinois Territory between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, which became known as the Illinois Bounty Lands. This area eventually became part of the state of Illinois in 1818 when Illinois became a state.

The General Land Office issued these patents in the Illinois Military Tract between October 1817 and January 1819. The lands were obtainable by veterans through a multi-step process beginning with the issuance of Bounty Land Warrants. The veterans applied for warrants and if an awared was granted, used the Bounty Land Wrrants to apply for land patents.

John Gardiner was the chief clerk of the General Land Office during the War of 1812. Among the more noteworthy acts attributed to Gardiner was his removal of the General Land Office records from Washington by carriage, during the siege by the British, which saved them from destruction. His name appears on several early maps, including a Map of the Bounty Lands in Illinois Territory, a map of Northern Missouri, map of the military boundary lands in Arkansas Territory, and a map of of the Southern District of Alabama Territory (a companion map of the Northern District bears the name Peel & Sannoner, two Alabama surveyors who were responsible for the surveys which produced the map.

The Alabama maps bear the imprint of Tanner, Vallance, Kearney & Co. (Benjamin Tanner's firm) of Philadelphia, suggesting that it is likely that all 5 maps were printed in Philadelphia, as there were no printers working in Washington in this time frame who could have understaken ths project.

Our research indicates that the map virtually always appears with Gardiner's handwritten notes and signature, although the text is never the same in any two examples. This example is unusual, in that it lacks the typical manuscript annotations.