Michigan State University

John Farmer's  Map of the state of Michigan and the surrounding country, exhibiting the sections and the latest surveys. Published 1844 until 1874.

John Farmer (1798-1859) was a surveyor and map maker based in Detroit, Michigan.  His “Map of the State of Michigan and Surrounding Country” was one of his most popular maps, which, over several editions, remained in print for thirty years. First published in 1844, this majestic map covered not just the surveyed, southern portion of the state, but the entire lower peninsula along with major portions of the upper peninsula as well. It contained carefully drawn section lines and portrayed great detail down to a scale of 12 miles to an inch (See Figure 1).

The experts disagree on how many editions or versions of this map appeared over this period from 1844 to 1874. Louis Karpinski, in his definitive 1931 book Bibliography of the Printed Maps  of Michigan claims there were 16.  Ristow, however, states in his 1985 American Maps and Mapmakers,  that there were 23.

In an attempt to answer the question of the number of versions as well as the extent of their differences, we personally examined and copied portions of as many versions of the map that could be located using Karpinski, the World Catalogue (OCLC), and other sources. The results of this search are summarized in the table below.  

We were able to locate and copy only 14 of the 16 versions listed in Karpinski.  One of the two  missing versions was 1845. Karpinski indicated it was listed in the University of Chicago library catalog, but mentioned that “the copy could not be located at the library.” The other missing version was 1866.  Karpinski, however, failed to list five other versions that we have been able to locate from our examination of other sources: 1846. 1850, 1853, 1867, and 1869. If we add these five to Karpinsky’s total, then no fewer than 19 and perhaps as many as 21 versions exist of this map. But that total is less than the 23 claimed by Ristow.

The probable explanation for the Ristow number of edition lies with the changes between 1851 and 1852. The 1851 publication was labeled '3rd Edition' (as were the 1849 and 1850 printings).  In 1852, and in all subsequent years, the edition title listed was '23rd Edition'. As Karpinski states, “it was effected by simply placing a 2 before the 3rd; it has no significance as to actual editions and was retained in all subsequent issues.” Ristow’s number probably reflects an innocent misreading of this quirk in Farmer’s edition listing.

To ascertain the changes in this map over the entire 1844 to 1874 period, we scrutinized the 19 versions that were able to locate, paying particular attention to the cartouche, the copyright statements, and content in the Grand Traverse & Leelanau areas. The key finding from our review is that the changes depended importantly on which Farmer was running the business. From 1844 until John Farmer’s death in 1859, numerous geographic changes were reflected in every new version of this map. After his death, however, when his son Silas took over the business, this practice stopped. In the nine subsequent versions of the map from 1864 until 1874, the contents of the map changed only twice, in 1864 and 1873. (See Table 1, column 5, for examples of version to version map changes in one area of Michigan, Leelanau/Traverse City). Keeping the map versions up –to-date was evidently less important for John Farmer’s heirs. 

Year Stated Edition Date in Cartouche Cartouche (click to expand)

Leelanau Area (click to expand)

Comments Karpinski Holdings, circa 1931 Current Known Holdings
1844   yes 1844 map cartouche

1844 Leelanau Peninsula

This map has no insets. Manitou Islands not separately named.  Burton, Port Huron Public Library**, Library of Congress, University of Michigan Archives of Michigan*, British Library, Clarke/CMU*, Library of Michigan, Marquette County Historical Society, Indiana Historical Society, Harvard University, New York Public Library
1845           University of Chicago, but not verified Not found
1846 2nd. Edition yes 1846 cartouche 1846 Leelanau

Inset of 12 townships in Iosco area with caption: "PLAT of the RESURVEY of certain townships FALSELY RETURNED BY L. L. ROSSEAU" (This edition only).  Inset: PLAT of the COPPER DISTRICT on L. Superior (and thereafter unless noted). 

Manitou Islands named (Great and Little).

Not listed Clarke/CMU*
1849 3rd. Edition yes 1849 cartouche 1849 Leelanau Manitou Islands additional details (boardinghouse). Port Huron Public Library** Clarke/CMU*, Wisconsin Historical Society
1850 3rd. Edition yes 1850 Cartouche 1850 Leelanau Details removed from Old Mission Peninsula. not listed University of Michigan-Bentley
1851 3rd. Edition yes 1851 Cartouche 1851 Leelanau Bear Lake added. none indicated Wisconsin Historical Society*
1852 23rd. Edition yes 1852 cartouche 1852 Leelanau Carp Lake (name change) added. Michigan Historical Commission Archives of Michigan*
1853 23rd. Edition yes 1853 cartouche 1853 Leelanau Traverse City (and county) added. Not listed Stanford (Rumsey)*
1854 23rd. Edition yes 1854 cartouche 1854 Leelanau No changes in the Leelanau area.  There are, however, changes just south of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula. Library of Congress, Port Huron Public Library**, University of Michigan Clarke/CMU; Library of Michigan; University of Michigan-Hatcher*; University of Texas-Arlington
1855 23rd. Edition yes 1855 cartouche 1855 leelanau Northport added. British Museum British Library*, Michigan State University*
1856 23rd. Edition yes 1856 cartouche 1856 Leelanau Pine Ridge area added. American Antiquarian Society American Antiquarian Society*
1857 23rd. Edition yes 1857 cartouche 1857 Leelanau Glen Arbor added. Burton; Port Huron Public Library** Clarke/CMU*, University of Michigan-Hatcher
1859 23rd. Edition yes 1859 cartouche 1859 Leelanau North Unity added. Library of Congress, Port Huron Public Library** Clarke/CMU*
John Farmer died March 1859. Map business taken over by his wife Roxanne Farmer and three children: Silas, John and Esther
1864 23rd. Edition yes 1864 cartouche 1864 Leelanau

British Library copy is overdrawn in color with geological features, and has a hand-drawn legend appended to the lower right corner.

Benzie County added.

No holdings noted University of Michigan-Bentley; American Geographical Society Library at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee*, Maclean Collection*, British Library (geological)*
1866 23rd. Edition no undated circa 1866 cartouche 1866 Leelanau No changes in the Leelanau area Library of Congress, University of Michigan Stanford (Rumsey)*
1867 23rd. Edition yes 1867 cartouche 1867 Leelanau No changes in the Leelanau area Not listed American Geographical Society Library at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee*, Indiana Historical Society, University of Michigan-Hatcher*; University of Texas-Arlington*
1868 23rd. Edition yes 1868 cartouche 1868 Leelanau No changes in the Leelanau area Library of Congress, Port Huron Public Library**, University of Michigan Clarke/CMU (2 copies)*
1869 23rd. Edition yes 1869 cartouche   No changes in the Leelanau area Not listed University of Michigan-Clements (right half of map only)
1871 23rd. Edition yes 1871 cartouche Leelanau area, 1871 Map of the State of Michigan No changes in the Leelanau area Not listed Clarke/CMU*; University of Michigan-Bentley
1873a   yes 1873 style B cartouche Leelanau area in 1873a Map of the State of Michigan Glen Haven added Not listed Clarke/CMU (3 copies)*; University of Chicago
1873b   no 1873, style b cartouche Leelanau area 1873b Map of the State of Michigan

No insets; Copyright 1873 by Silas Farmer

Glen Haven added

Port Huron Public Library** Clarke/CMU*, Michigan State University*, University of Michigan-Bentley
1873c   yes    

Date in cartouche and the 1873 Silas Farmer copyright statement

Glen Haven added

  British Library*
1874   yes 1874a cartouche Leelanau area of 1874 Map of the State of Michigan

No insets; Copyright 1873 by Silas Farmer

No changes in the Leelanau area

Library of Congress, University of Michigan Library of Michigan-Hatcher*, Wisconsin Historical Society

*This map was viewed as part of this project

** Port Huron Public Library loaned their map collection to the Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University.

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