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Antique Maps of Colona



In 1858, gold was discovered near the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek, by the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on the western edge of the Kansas Territory. As thousands flooded into the area, in what was called the Pike's Peak gold rush, settlements (such as Denver City) were established and the population boomed. This area was located well away from the Kansas territorial government, and the locals realized that their interests were not necessarily the same as the interests of those located in the eastern part of the territory. Besides there was no machinery available for the enforcement of law & order, a real concern to those who hoped to make their fortune there. Thus these miners and other settlers wanted a new territory to be carved out of Kansas, to provide local government.

A delegation was sent to Washington for the creation of such a territory. On January 6, 1859, Schuyler Colfax, representative from Illinois, introduced a bill in Congress to organize a territory along the eastern slope of the Rockies. The territory was to include the western-most parts of Kansas and Nebraska as far north as the 42nd parallel, between the 103rd degree longitude and the continental divide--except that the border would pass on the western side of Middle Park "in order that the Three Parks shall all be in the new Territory." The southern border was to be the 37th parallel, thus taking in the northeastern part of New Mexico.

The bill introduced by Colfax to the House was "To organize the Territory of Colona." This name was taken from the Spanish for Columbus and the New York Times stated that this name was favored by the settlers of the area. However it seems the name was not particularly popular with many others, for Colfax himself had suggested Cordillera, and others put forth the names of San Luis, Aureola, and the Indian names Uintah or Ogalala.

The Colona bill was referred to the Committee on the Territories for consideration. At that time there was great concern amongst Congressmen from the slave states that no new "free" states be added to the country. The bill introduced to Congress included, as its last clause, "the Constitution and laws of the United States are hereby extended over and declared to be in force in said Territory, so far as the same or any provision thereof may by applicable; and that slavery, peonage, and polygamy, are hereby prohibited in said Territory." As a consequence, there were not enough votes to support this bill and Colona was never created.

Colona did not have a very long life even as a proposal, but it did appear on a number of maps being prepared in early 1859. Not surprisingly, once it appeared on a map by an influential mapmaker, it then turned up on other publisher's maps, sometimes many years after even the hope of the territory had disappeared.

"Colton's United States of America." New York: Johnson & Browning, 1859. 15 1/2 x 26. Lithograph. Original hand color. Paper darkened and some stains. Some rubbed or whitened surface areas in western US, not affecting very much printed surface. Chip in bottom margin. Denver.

An important atlas map of the United States showing guesses, hopes, and mistakes concerning the political configuration of the western part of the country on the eve of the Civil War. The map is entitled "Colton's United States," but it was issued by Johnson & Browning. A.J. Johnson had worked for J.H. Colton as a book canvasser, but then began helping him with his publications, including publishing an 1859 edition of Colton's Atlas, along with his partner, I.L. Browning.

This map contains three examples of incorrect territorial depictions. The most unusual is the depiction of Colona; this is the only American atlas map to show Colona (there are actually two versions of Johnson & Browning's map with Colona, of which this is the first. The later edition shows Colona colored in a separate color). In addition to this, a new territory is shown in the western part of Utah Territory, what became Nevada, although that territory would also not be created for another two years (the second version of this map shows Nevada extending down into the New Mexico territory). The final incorrect territorial depiction is a horizontal Arizona lying to the south of New Mexico. The citizens of this region petitioned Congress for such a territory, and when this was not granted they actually formed their own territory, which joined the Confederacy. When Congress did eventually create Arizona, they made it run north-south, rather than east-west.

The map contains much else of interest, including mail routes, explorer routes and the potential lines for the proposed transcontinental railroad (these lines are missing from the second version of this map). Overall, a unique picture of the country on the eve of the Civil War, showing the political forces at play, even if not necessarily the correct borders. $375

Johnson 1860 wall map
A.J. Johnson. "Johnson's New Illustrated &Embellished County Map of the Republics of North America, with the adjacent islands &countries." New York &Washington: Johnson &Browning, 1860. Copyrighted 1856. Separately issued wall map. 70 x 73. Lithograph. Full, original hand color. Mounted on original linen. A sliver of the edge of top left border missing. With some creases and light staining, but professionally conserved and stable. Attractive appearance. Very rare. Denver.

The 1850s and early 1860s was a time of considerable development, both actual and intended, in the American West, with new territories established or proposed. This was a time when map publishers had to be on their toes to keep up with the changing political situation in the trans-Mississippi region. A.J. Johnson was one of the most agile, producing a series of at least eight versions of his huge wall map of the United States, Mexico and Central America between 1857 and 1861. This included two versions done in 1860, of which this was one, a year when huge changes were afoot. The New York Times reported on Jan. 11, 1859 that there were six applications for new territories before Congress, all but one of which were for trans-Mississippi regions. One was for creation of a Dakota Territory out of the eastern part of Nebraska Territory, one was for the creation of an Arizona Territory out of the southern half of New Mexico Territory, one was for a Nevada Territory out of the western half of Utah Territory, and one was for a Colona Territory out of the western part of Kansas. New territories were created for all four of these areas, though not beginning until 1861, for it wasn't until the southerners walked out with the succession of the Confederacy that Congress was able to create new territories which would prohibit slavery.

Johnson, though, could not know how things would fall out, and because there was such a long time between a map being drawn and actually printed and published, he tried to stay on top of things by using what information he could gather in Washington to anticipate the creation of new territories, so his map would be current when issued. This fabulous map shows how in some cases he was successful and others not so. Johnson did not start with a blank slate when he made this map, but rather updated his 1859 edition. This led to some interesting labeling. For instance, Johnson shows the territory of Nevada, a year before it was actually created, with a "U" and a "T" inside its borders, for he did not change the label for Utah, which still stretched across the old width of that territory. Similarly, a large "K" appears in a new territory in the western part of Kansas. That territory is given two names, "Co ona" [the "l" is missing] and "Jefferson," for there were actually competing proposals for a new territory centered on the Pike's Peak Gold Rush and Johnson wasn't sure which name would be kept. Of course, neither was, for this territory was created as Colorado in 1861.

To the north, the proposed territory of Dakota is shown, but limited to lands east of the Missouri River, whereas when it was created in 1861, it extended from the western border of Minnesota all the way to the continental divide. The final new territory Johnson added was Arizona, lying in the southern part of the old New Mexico Territory. This was the territory as its citizens originally petitioned Congress to create, and which Johnson thought would be so established. However, the northerners in Congress in 1860 would not allow a new slave territory, as it would have been if it were to have those borders, and when the territory was finally established in 1863, the then totally northern Congress made it to the west of New Mexico, rather than to the south, so that it would not be controlled by slave owners. The final interesting political depiction of the map lies in the northwest. In 1853, this area, which had been a very large Oregon Territory, was divided in half into Oregon and Washington Territories. Then in 1859, the western part of the Oregon Territory was made into the state of Oregon, the eastern part being then attached to Washington Territory. Johnson, however, was not up-to-date enough in his information, so he showed this eastern section as a stump "Oregon Tery."

Of course, all these political mistakes or guesses are the most salient of the features on the map, but there is much else of great interest. The map's western geography, as stated on the map, " was taken (with the consent of Capt. A.A. Humphreys) principally from a map compiled from the following authorities by Lieut. G.K. Warren, Topl Engrs...In the Office of Pacific Rail Road Surveys, War Department." As the Warren map was the best to date, this map's depiction of the west is excellent. Locations of Indian tribes, routes of exploration, forts, topography and much other detail is given throughout. Decoratively the map is also pretty awesome, with a wide decorative border and vignette scenes of the U.S. Capitol, Dubuque, New York, Detroit, St. Joseph, New Orleans and Cincinnati. It is interesting that within the same year of 1860, Johnson &Browning issued a somewhat modified version of this map, making this version particularly rare. $9,500

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