Michigan State University

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1825, Territory of Michigan

Map of the Surveyed Part of the Territory of Michigan. Made by Orange Risdon. Engraved in Albany, New York by Rawdon, Clark & Co, and published by Orange Risdon in 1825.

This is the first detailed map of part of Michigan Territory. By 1825, federal land surveyors had surveyed much of southeast Michigan. Two map makers woke up to the fact that the Erie Canal was going to bring many settlers to Michigan and these settlers would need information about the surveyed parts of the Territory. Competing maps were made by Orange Risdon and John Farmer, of which Risdon’s is the older and was drawn at a larger scale.

The population of the entire Michigan Territory at the time was somewhere between 17,000 and 40,000 people, of which about 7,900 were Native Americans and the balance European-descended settlers.

In the map detail of Detroit we can see the clash of land division systems: Old French long lots meet up with Judge Woodward’s Ten Thousand Acre Tract and are filled in all around with the U.S. Public Land Survey System. To the southeast we can see part of Ontario, Canada, where Windsor was still called “Sandwich.” Significant sites of the War of 1812 are noted on the Windsor-Essex Peninsula.  The map also shows numerous Native American reservations.

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