Mapping The Former Creek Lands Following the 1832 Treaty of Cusetta
Rare separately published map of the "Late" Creek Territory in eastern Alabama, published by John La Tourrette in 1833.
La Tourrette's map was issued in the year following the The Treaty of Cusseta, an agreement between the U.S. government and the Creek Nation, in which the Creeks ceded the United States Federal Government the remainder of the Creek Nation land east of the Mississippi River, all of which was located in east Alabama.
This is one of two maps published in 1833 by La Tourrette (along with his Map of the Choctaw Territory in Alabama . . .), launching his career as the pre-eminent regional mapmaker for Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The former Creek Territory is depicted by La Tourrette as covering Benton County, Talladega County, Randolph County, Coosa County, Tallapoosa County, Chambers County, Macon County, Russell County, and Barbosa County, covering the area east of the Coosa River and west of the Chattahoochee River and the Alabama-Georgia State border.
The Treaty of Cusseta followed a period where in the late 1820s, Alabama passed a series of so-called "extension laws," extending Alabama's jurisdiction over vast areas of Creek territory and barring the Creeks from hunting, fishing, and trapping, in an effort to force the Creek to rely solely on farming, to become citizens of the Unitedd States and to accept individual homesteads, or to relocate to Indian Territory. In January 1832, the Alabama legislature passed another "extension law" which extended civil and criminal jurisdiction over all Creek and Cherokee Territory and barred the two Nations from passing laws contrary to state law and from meeting in council, thereby undermining the authority of tribal leaders.
By the beginning of 1833, the area shown on La Tourrette's map was rife with land speculation (often fraudulent), illegal squatting and a host of other deprivations which extended the hostile environment for the remaining Creeks. Moreover, Gold had been discovered to the northwest in 1830 at Blue Creek and Chestnut Creek, followed by later discoveries in Talladega, Tallapoosa, Chambers, Coosa and Randolph Counties, which may also have played a role in the acceleration of legal and illegal settlement in the region and impetus for Creek removal.
The map bears the following note:
Surveyor's Office, Florence, Ala. 13th April 1833
We the undersigned Clerk and Draughtsman in the Surveyor General's Office of Alabama do hereby certify that Mr. John La Tourrette has copied all the original plats of the Surveys of the late Creek lands within this State. From teh very great care and labour Mr. La Tourrette bestows on this matter we have no doubt he will be able to present to the Public on of the most correct Maps ever published in the United States.
Ja[me]s H[arvey] Weakly Clerk.
F[erdinand] Sannoner Draughtsman.
Creek Removal Act
The Creek Nation was once one of the largest Native American group in the Southeast, controlling millions of acres of land in the present-day states of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. After the American Revolution, these lands were systematically taken from the Creek Nation through a series of treaties, land scams and theft, as well as corrupt arrangements between Creek leaders and federal agents. By 1836, most of the Creek Nation had been relocated Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).
The first major treaty was illegally signed on February 12, 1825 by Coweta headman William McIntosh, whereby the Creek ceded all the Lower Creek land in Georgia and a large tract in Alabama to the federal government, in exchange for $200,000 and land in present-day Oklahoma. For his transgression, McIntosh was executed at one of his plantations on the Chattahoochee River in May 1825.
After a Creek delegation travelled to Washington DC to object, the so-called Treaty of Indian Springs was nullified on January 24, 1826, the only time that a ratified treaty with a Native American nation was overturned. The Treaty of Washington restored Creek land within Alabama but allowed the state of Georgia to keep ceded Creek lands.
Over the next several years, a number of groups followed. Some were supporters of McIntosh; others were Creeks who had previously resided on land that now belonged to Georgia or simply felt threatened by white settlers who illegally squatted on their land.
Over the next years, there was significant white encroachment on Creek land. Several prominent chiefs travelled to Washington to negotiate an agreement to salvage the Creek Nation. The Treaty of Cusseta, signed in March 1832, modified the Creek Nation's sovereign claims to their land in exchange for legal title, which created 640 acre parcels for chiefs and 320 acre parcels for all there members of the Creek Nation, who were then free sell or retain the land. The Treaty was largely a failure, as a result of white encroachment and unscrupulous land speculators.
Two more voluntary emigrating parties left Alabama in 1834 and 1835, but most Creeks were opposed to emigration and refused to go west. Sporadic violence ensued in 1830s, finally resulting in a war in the spring of 1836, with Creeks from the towns of Chehaw, Yuchi, and Hitchiti, among others, attacking whites and looting and destroying plantations in the present-day Alabama counties of Chambers, Macon, Pike, Lee, Russell, and Barbour, an action which came to be known as the Second Creek War.
The war was used by President Andrew Jackson as justification for removing all the Creeks from Alabama. After capturing the warring Creeks, soldiers chained and marched the warriors and their families to Montgomery, where they were placed on steamboats and taken by ship to Mobile and New Orleans and then being marched to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory. A similar forced exodus of "friendly" Creeks followed.
Although Creeks continued to emigrate from Alabama in small, family-sized detachments into the 1840s and 1850s, government-sponsored removal ended officially in 1837 and 1838. Between the McIntosh party emigration in 1827 and the end of removal in 1837, more than 23,000 Creeks relocated to Indian Territory.
Only the Poarch Creek of Atmore, Escambia County, remain today on the only officially recognized Creek lands in the state.
The map is extremely rare. We note one prior example at auction at the Frank T. Siebert Library of the North American Indian and the American Frontier in 1999, where a damaged example with browning and losses at the folds was offered as lot 634, acquired by Siebert at Goodspeed's in 1981.
We note 4 or 5 known examples:
- University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (American Geographical Society copy)
- Birmingham Public Library (heavily damaged)
- Alabama Department Archives and History (heavily damaged)
- New York Public Library (heavily damaged)
- OCLC also lists an example at the Chattahoochee Valley Libraries, which we could not verify
Despite his extremely important role in the early mapping of the American South, John La Tourrette (1785? - February 14, 1851) remains an enigmatic figure with only the scantest biographical details available. He was likely born in Staten Island, New York, to James La Tourrette Sr. (died 1796), but moved in the 1820s to the Center Port, Alabama area, becoming one of the first settlers in the region.
The Census of 1830 records a John La Tourrette of Mobile, Alabama, aged between 40 and 49 years old, some sources say 45.
Later, he moved to New Orleans (one source says in 1845), where he continued in his career as a mapmaker.
According to the inventory of his estate (digitized on Ancestry.com), La Tourrette died intestate on or about February 14, 1851, while living in New Orleans. When he died, La Tourrette had a considerable inventory of maps, mostly his own, which are enumerated in the court-ordered inventory. We quote liberally:
1. One Hundred and Fifty Two Large Maps of the State of Alabama, valued by the Said Appraisers at four Dollar each, say Six Hundred and Eight Dollars.
2. Twenty Seven large maps of the State of Mississippi, valued by the said appraisers at five Dollans each, say One Hundred and thirty five Dollars.
3. One Hundred and One large maps of the State of Louisiana, Valued by the said appraisers at Five Dollars each, Say, Five Hundred and Five Dollars;
4. One large map of the United States by the Said appraisers at Four Dollars,
5. One Map of the World, Valued by the Said Appraisers at Two Dollars,
6. Two Hundred Eighty two small maps of the State of Alabama, Valued by the Said appraisers at One Dollar each, Say, Two hundred and Eighty Two Dollars.
7. One Hundred and five Small Maps of the State of Mississippi, Valued by the Said appraisers at one Dollar each, say, One Hundred and five Dollars,
8. Three Maps of the City of New Orleans, unframed, Valued in lump, by the Said appraisers at Three Dollars,
9. One Hundred and Eighty nine maps of the City of Mobile, Valued by the Said appraisers at One Dollar each, Say, One Hundred and Eighty nine Dollars,
10. Ten Maps of the Choctaws Lands, Valued by the said appraisers at One Dollar each, Say, Ten Dollars,
11. Two Boxes of Sundry unframed maps, Books, Portions of Plans +s, Vlaued in Lump by the Said appraisers at fifteen Dollars,
12. One Box of detached maps, small size, valued by said appraisers at Four Dollars
13. One Bundle of Maps Rolls, valued b the said appraisers at two Dollars,
14. Ten tin maps Cases, Valued by the said appraisers at fifty Cents each, say Five Dollars,
15. One Lot of Old [Harness?], Valued in lump by the said appraisers at Three Dollars,
16. One Lot of Tripoli, Valued by the said Appraisers in Lump at Five Dollars,
Together, the total Sum of One Thousand Eight Hundred and Seventy Seven Dollars.
And it being now half past Six O'clock P.M. and there being nothing else in Said Store belonging to the Estate of the Said Deceased further to be inventoried and appraised. . .
On May 11, 1851, The Times-Picayune advertised the sale of the La Tourrette estate inventory:
SALE OF MAPS.- We are requested to call attention to the succession sale of John La Tourrette, deceased, to take place at Banks's Arcade, to-morrow, Monday, at 12 o'clock. The articles for sale consist of Mr. Le Tourrette's maps of Louisiana, enlarged and improved, up to 1850, also of Alabama and Mississippi.
Writing in The Montgomery Advertiser, on August 16, 1936, Peter A. Brannon says of La Tourrette:
Alabama's original cartographer was a young man (that is, he is always referred to as such) and, I believe he originally resided in Alabama, in the vicinity of Cahaba. He may have been selected by Gov. Israel Pickens on account of his proximity to the statehouse at Cahaba. The name is pronounced "Lat-two-ret," although practically all early references are to La (Lar) tour-rette." Mr. Latourrette's maps are all inscribed with his residence at Mobile. It is known that people of his name were from Richmond, on Long Island, N. Y., and they moved to a point in Dallas County, east of and not far from Cahaba, about the time of the admission of the State into the Union [i.e., December 14, 1819]. One John LaTourrette, either a son or a nephew of the cartographer, is buried just outside the enclosure of the Episcopal Cemetery at Carlowville. I have been told that this man was a sleepwalker and entered the open window of a home in that village, and, by mistake, was killed as a burglar. The monument on his grave is an old-style table-slab marked. Some years ago I had the honor of the friendship of an old lady, then well beyond the four score milestone, who told me of her visits to the LaTourrette family on Long Island. [. . .]
As a private enterprise, Mr. LaTourrette published a map of Mobile dated 1838. Like many others issued for that city it seems to have been an excellent one though not officially adopted. Mobile adopted the DeLage map in 1837, this being published in '38 and it is not unlikely that the two men were competitors for official recognition.
I have never been able to learn much of John LaTourrette himself. Should this paper fall under the eye of one who can tell me of him, I will welcome the message.
The first printed record of La Tourrette's intention to publish a map appears in late 1831, when a long prospectus for "A New Map of Alabama" appeared in the Alabama State Intelligencer.
La Tourrette's cartographic output includes the following maps:
A Map Of The Choctaw Territory In Alabama From The United States Surveys Shewing Each Section & Fractional Section By John La Tourrette. . . (1833)
A Map of the Creek Territory in Alabama, from the United States Surveys, Shewing each Section & Fractional Section; By John La Tourrette, Mobile, Ala. . . . (1833)
La Tourrette's Map of the State of Alabama and West Florida: Carefully compiled from the original surveys of the General Government: revised corrected and published with he approval of the Governor and other State Officers. (1835, 1837, 1838, 1856)
[Privately-printed map of Mobile, Alabama, per Brannon] (1838)
An accurate map or delineation of Mississippi with a large portion of Louisiana & Alabama: showing the communication by land and water between the cities of New Orleans and Mobile, carefully reduced from the original surveys of the United States, being laid off into Congressional townships, and divided into mile squares or sections, on the plan adopted by the General Government for surveying public lands; so that persons may point to the tract on which they live. Compiled & Published by John La Tourrette, Mobile, Alabama, A.D. (1839, 1845, 1847)
Map of the State of Alabama Carefully compiled from the original Surveys of the General Government: and Published by John La Tourrette Mobile Ala. (1844)
La Tourrette's Reference Map of the State of Louisiana From The Original Surveys of the United States Which show the Spanish Grants, Townships, Sections, or mile squares, Settlement Rights &c. Also The Plantations With the owners names Engraved thereon. Compiled and Published by John La Tourrettte, New Orlean, LA. (1846, 1848, 1850?, 1853)