Society for the History of Discoveries

44nd Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of Discoveries

October 23 – 26, 2003


 Pike’s ‘Peek’ -- To Spy or Not to Spy
Was Zebulon Pike ‘Lost’ on the Rio Grande del Norte in 1807?
Stuart Bryan

This paper will explore Lieut. Pike’s 1806-07 expedition route and associated accusations in the literature that he was a puppet on orders from his superior officer to spy on the Spanish frontier and Empire of the Southwest.

Through the efforts of President Thomas Jefferson in 1803, a vast tract of western land was added to the growing United States. By the Treaty of Paris on April 30, 1803, this ‘deal’ was consummated in New Orleans as the Louisiana Purchase. On July 15, 1806, while Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery was descending the Missouri River, young Lieut. Zebulon Montgomery Pike (age 26) left St. Louis for the “Mexican Mountains.” His objective was discovery and exploration to the headwaters of the Red River, the southern boundary of the new territory acquisitions from the French. 

Pike’s expedition ascended the Missouri, Osage and Arkansas Rivers and arrived near Las Animas, Colorado on Nov. 15, 1806 with fifteen men and horses. At 2 pm, the party with shouts of cheer observed a “small blue cloud” on the western horizon. It was Pike’s Peak which they later attempted to climb from west of Pueblo. An inaccurate elevation measurement was calculated at 18, 581 feet.

Exploring north from Canon City and the mouth of The Royal Gorge the group maps the headwaters of the South Platte River in Colorado’s South Park and later on December 20th ‘discover’ the “Rio Grande del Norte” between Buena Vista and Leadville. They were lost for the first time after finding actually the source of the Arkansas River. Christmas Day 1806 was spent just north of Salida. On January 27, 1807, the party crossed the Sangre de Cristo Range, passed the “sand hills” (Great Sand Dunes National Park), entered the San Luis Valley and ‘discovered’ the Red River, their ultimate goal. Lost again, he was on the Rio Grande southeast of Alamosa. A defensive site was chosen on February 1st five miles west up the Conejos River and here the men built what was later named Pike’s Stockade. Here the American flag flew for the first time on Colorado soil.

Spanish officers appear on February 16 to parley, leave, and return from Santa Fe with one hundred troops on the 26th. Pike’s men, cold, starving and seeing the futility of defense, and his men are ‘captured’ and escorted to Santa Fe as ‘guests’ of Governor Alencaster. Later in April he is taken to El Paso del Norte and Chihuahua City, Mexico for “interviews.” Finally released (with valuable newly drawn maps hidden on his men) most return safely to Natchitoches via San Antonio, Texas.

Was he lost on the Rio Grande or was he spying for General James Wilkinson, governor of Louisiana and his superior, as some authors have proposed? Harvey L. Carter writing in 1956: “General Wilkinson…had become deeply involved in an intrigue with Aaron Burr former Vice President…popular belief holds them guilty of plotting treason against the United States…many historians have held that Pike was a party to whatever Burr and Wilkinson were planning…Pike’s reputation has been the victim of guilt by association.”

The Second Island: Isla Grande o Isla Pequena?
William N. Dunwoody

Santa Maria de la Concepcion, the second Bahamian Island visited by Columbus in 1492, is the center of controversy among advocates of the various landfall scenarios. Could Santa Maria have been as large as Las Casas described it in the Diario or might it have been much smaller? 

The Diario not only states both the length and breadth of the island, but also contains much more data by which the size and location of the island may be determined. This paper examines the identity of Santa Maria de la Concepcion through the distances which could be seen by Columbus’s crew or could be sailed by his ships as well as the weather, events and geography described in the Diario. In addition to the Diario information, the paper relies on data gathered during the author’s sailing cruises through the Bahamian Islands visited by Columbus.

The Search for La Caroline: A Progress Report on Investigations to Find the
Archaeological Evidence of the First French Colony in the United States
Charles A. Hoffman
(Archaeology International)
Rich J. Lundin

(Wondjina Research Institute)

As part of Wondjina Research Institute’s (WRI) ongoing La Caroline Project to find and document the location of the 16th Century French La Caroline Colony in Florida, WRI, and Archaeology International (AI) have over the past 21 years conducted extensive archival and field investigations of several locations along the east coast of Florida from the St. Johns River to Cape Canaveral to evaluate reports of findings of 16th Century non-Spanish artifacts and features that may be associated with sites associated with the French La Caroline Colony.

The WRI/AI work was designed to follow up on the extensive archaeological and historical research work of Armstrong, Bennett, Brewer, Gissendanner, Hoffman, Lundin, Lyons, the National Park Service and others suggest that significant progress is being made towards the goals of finding archeological evidence of the site of the La Caroline Colony Settlement, several of the 1565 shipwreck/survivors camps, “Ribault’s Fort” and one or more of the massacre sites near Matanzas Inlet. These recent studies will be summarized and an overview presented.

In addition, another intent of the project has been to use the clues from the archeological and historical data to develop “state of the art” remote sensing equipment and techniques for investigations to reconstruct the 16th Century landscape of this section of the Florida Coastline and to find the deeply buried sites associated with the ill-fated La Caroline Colony. A brief overview of previous and ongoing remoter sensing efforts and the development of new, site-specific remote sensing technologies will be presented.

The Inuit as Geographers: The Case of Eenoolooapik
and the Rediscovery of Cumberland Sound After 250 Years
H. G. Jones
(University of North Carolina)

Early Euro-American explorers and whalers often ignored traditional Eskimoan knowledge of the physical world and were slow to recognize that the absence of a written language did not deprive isolated Northerners of intimate acquaintance with the lands and waters upon which they lived and from which they drew their sustenance. One of the best recorded examples of Inuit geographical knowledge is found in the story of Eenoolooapik, who led to the rediscovery of Cumberland Sound more than 250 years after it was first explored and named by John Davis. Eenoolooapik is probably the only nineteenth-century Inuk for whom a biography was published in his lifetime.

Taken as a young man from Baffin Island to Scotland in 1839, Eenoolooapik excited whaling captain William Penny with stories of a large, whale-rich body of water unknown to European and American whalers. While over-wintering in Aberdeen, Eenoolooapik drew a map of the coastline of eastern Baffin, and upon their return the next summer, penny skeptically followed Eenoolooapik’s directions into a large bay in which the young Eskimo had spent his childhood. Thus the Inuk’s geographical knowledge of his homeland resulted in the rediscovery of the long-lost body of water in which, in the next decade, shore stations were established that offered seasonal employment to Inuit and dramatically changed the lives of the natives of northern Canada. By the end of the century, missionaries had introduced a syllabic writing system, and soon thereafter the Canadian government extended its RCMP and other services to the newfound region.

My paper, by comparing modern maps with names and descriptions contained in Alexander M’Donald’s 1841 biographical study of Eenoolooapik, will attempt to identify the routes taken and the Inuit camps visited by the expedition piloted by Eenoolooapik, thus contributing to nineteenth-century history of Canada’s eastern Arctic. M’Donald’s little book, even with its limited understanding of Inuit culture, provides instructive insights into the interplay between Baffinland natives and the strangers who plied the waters around the lands and islands with which only the Inuit were then familiar.

West of the Line Extended”:
National Challenges to Imperial Authority on the Louisiana Borderlands
Michael Kimaid

(Bowling Green State University)

This paper seeks to address how the United States of America were successful in their attempt to undermine long-standing Spanish claims to territory in North America after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. By challenging the accepted tactics of European imperial control in North America, namely the vague articulations of territorial “borderlands” that kept the imperial powers from direct conflict, the United States were able to impose themselves over the unarticulated western borderlands of Louisiana and eventually realize their transcontinental goals.

The United States changed the dialectic of territorial control, moving from an imperial model based on indistinct “borderlands” and hazy geographical descriptions to a national model, which relied on sharply defined borderlines and very detailed geographical accounts of “newly discovered” territories. With this shift came a greater sense of authority regarding territorial claims, giving the United States a distinct advantage over the Spanish in their westward reach to the Pacific. While the United States were successful in undermining the discourse of territorial control in North America, their policies of incorporating the territory into the newly developing national model remained traditionally imperial, subjecting the land and its people to American power rather than incorporating them into the emergent republican power structure.

Discovery of the Remnants of a French Colony in Mexico:
Lessons in Survival for the Cajun Culture in Louisiana
Rodrique Lévesque

During my latest overland expedition to the Emerald Coast of Mexico, I chanced upon the remnants of a French colony along the Nautla River north of Vera Cruz, established in 1833.

Here is a brief history of this colony. Following the failure of the First French colony on Mexican soil at Coatzacoalcos, one of its promoters, a Monsieur Guénot, went back to France to recruit new pioneers for an agricultural venture along the lower course of the Nautla River. The new colonists arrived at Vera Cruz, then to the Nautla River where they founded their settlement at Jicaltepec on the south bank. Their descendants intermarried with Mexicans and some of them can still speak French.

The lessons that Cajuns of Louisiana can derive from this are: they must reach out to France and/or French Canada for assistance in re-discovering their roots and in promoting the spread of the French language (a form of speech that they can be proud of). After all, language is vital to the survival of any culture.

Finding Themselves in the Arctic: Samuel Entrikin
and the Peary Expedition of 1893-95
Rob Lukens

(Temple University)

This presentation offers an historical study of Robert Peary’s Greenland expedition of 1893-1895 through the eyes of crewmember Samuel Entrikin. A product of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Entrikin journeyed to Greenland in the summer of 1892 as part of the Peary Relief Expedition. A year later, Robert Peary himself invited Entrikin to act as first in command of his upcoming trip to Greenland. 
When taken at face value, Entrikin’s journey makes a lively story. But when viewed in the context of his times, a decade full of uncertainty, Entrikin’s account takes on greater meaning. The “end” of the western frontier, fears of “overcivilization,” and ambivalent racial classification systems left Americans searching for a new source of a masculine, rugged, and individualistic American character. 
In the span of a year and three months, Samuel Entrikin and his comrades used the Arctic as a new frontier in which to reinvigorate the modern American man. These men conquered the elements, hunted the fierce walrus and polar bear, and asserted dominance over natives in an attempt to regain 
a sense of rugged American character. But as they perceived it, the presence of women, Peary’s criticisms, and ambivalence about Inuit character undermined this program of renewal. 

Finding Louisiana: La Salle and the Mississippi River Delta
Christopher Morris

(University of Texas at Arlington)

This presentation will re-examine La Salle’s approach to the Mississippi from the Gulf of Mexico, by considering not where he thought river was, but rather what he thought the river was.

In his effort to sail into the Mississippi River, La Salle famously missed his mark, eventually landing on the Texas coast hundreds of miles to the west. How he managed this ultimately fatal error has been the subject of much debate, most of it focusing on the reliability of his navigational tools and charts, or on his interest in Mexican silver. What tends to be forgotten is the river itself.

I think it is very possible that even had La Salle’s charts and compass led him directly to the river, he still would have missed it because he did not know what to look for. The fact that two years earlier he had stood in the middle of the delta, after canoeing down the river from Canada did not help him because on that occasion, he utterly failed to comprehend the landscape. And so when he approached the river’s mouth by sea he missed it because he was searching for a river that existed in his imagination. Moreover, La Salle’s biographers have only compounded his error by projecting today’s delta onto La Salle’s coastline. The delta today is quite different in shape and size from that which sat at the end of the river over 300 years ago. In other words, in seeking to understand how he managed to miss the river, present-day researchers have not appreciated what it was he in fact missed. They, like La Salle, have failed to consider the river, its life and history.

In a slide presentation of maps, charts, drawings, and photographs depicting the river’s mouth and the Gulf coastline over the past several centuries, I will take the audience back through the history of the changing Mississippi River delta. Then I will ask the audience to join me in a reconstruction of La Salle’s approach to the river’s mouth, first from the north, by canoe, and then from Cuba by ship. We will close our eyes to the navigational notations and coordinates recorded in the journals of his expeditions, and instead listen to the descriptions of the land and seascapes, which reveal what I think La Salle thought he found, as well as what he in fact found but failed to see.

It is my contention that La Salle came much closer to the mouth of the river than he knew, and furthermore, that scholars have not realized just how close La Salle came because they, like La Salle, have not lifted their eyes from the compass and charts to look at the coastline, and at the river. But La Salle was only the first to confuse the Louisiana he discovered with the Louisiana he imagined. It was a mistake many who came after him would make, including Lewis and Clark.

Corridor to Mexico, Pathway to Liberty and Wealth:
Anglo-American Perceptions of Texas
in the Wake of the Louisiana Purchase, 1803-1813
David Narrett

(University of Texas at Arlington)

I propose to give a paper that will focus on the Anglo-American “discovery” of Texas in the first decade following the Louisiana Purchase. What I will emphasize is how private adventurers and U.S. government officials in the Louisiana-Texas borderlands transmitted information about Texas, and its relationship to Mexico, to the United States. I will evaluate the broader cultural values and political and economic motivations that influenced the ways that Texas was perceived in relation to actual historical realities. This period witnessed not only the emergence of Texas in U.S. public consciousness, but also the first substantial contacts and encounters between Anglo-Americans and Tejanos and Mexicans. By the end of the Gutiérrez-Magee filibuster of 1813, certain basic patterns had already been established that were to govern U.S.-Mexican encounters in Texas for decades to come.

The John Hunt Map and the Mystery of Popham Colony, Maine
Richard Pflederer

(College of William and Mary)

In 1607, the Virginia Company, chartered by James I the previous year, sent two small fleets loaded with people and supplies to plant colonies in ‘Virginia’, the English name for the lands between Spanish Florida and New France. Both English colonies suffered through but survived their first frigid winter in North America. One, the southern colony on the James River at Jamestown, was to be remembered by history as the first permanent English settlement in what is now the US. The Northern colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River in Maine, the Popham Colony, was destined to fail and gradually fall into oblivion.

Now, a miraculously surviving map of the settlement is helping New England archaeologists bring this forgotten piece of ‘might have been’ to life. Draughtsman John Hunt accompanied George Popham, leader of the colony, on the trans-Atlantic voyage and completed his plan in October 1607, shortly before returning to England on the ship that delivered the colonists.

This paper offers an insight into the geopolitics on North America from the vantage point of the newly arrived English. It also tells the story of the John Hunt map, how it came to be preserved in Spain and how it has guided the excavations at this newly appreciated site. The map, initially assumed to have been a fanciful projection of the future of Fort St. George, has been demonstrated by Dr. Jeffrey Brain of the Peabody Essex Museum to be a precise and faithful representation of this piece of English history in North America. 

Ambition and Enterprise: Zebulon Pike’s Maps
Relating to the Exploration of the Southern Louisiana Purchase
Dennis Reinhartz

(University of Texas at Arlington)

Although the “tour of discovery” into the southern part of the Louisiana Purchase led by Lieutenant Zebulon Pike in 1806-1807 was not as grandiose and is perhaps less well known (especially as measured by the current bicentennial commemorations) than that of captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark across the northern reaches of the newly acquired territory in 1803-1806, it is nevertheless as significant for its geographic and cartographic contributions and additionally is surrounded by more controversy. Taken together, the results of the Lewis and Clark and Pike “tours” (as the Jeffersonians referred to the expeditions) presented the first clear description of the vast western lands bought from France by the new United States in 1803. These crucial explorations not only reflected some of President Jefferson’s aspirations for his country, but they also helped to set the course of “Manifest Destiny” and the expansion of the United States across North America and beyond in the century that followed.

Like his young nation, Zebulon Pike (1779-1813) was possessed of the “ambition and enterprise” needed to face the challenges of the Louisiana-New Spain frontier. This presentation seeks to help reinstate Pike and his achievements to a more reasonable standing in the current bicentennial revival of interest in the Louisiana Purchase and its ramifications. In his multi-volume Mapping of the Transmississippi West, the historian of cartography Carl I. Wheat offers a good straightforward summary of Pike’s attainment: “Pike offered to the American people a new and fascinating picture of the great Southwest across which the Santa Fe Trail would run for many years as well as important parts of the central mountain region still dominated by the great peak that bears the young Lieutenant’s name” (II, 27). But there is more.

Pike himself in his journal and letters perhaps best tells the story of the tour, and its accomplishments are similarly recorded in his cartography. Based primarily upon a scrutiny of these essential documents, especially the maps and the sources for them, an illustrated reappraisal of Pike’s contributions and legacy is rendered. 

Why Travel to Palestine?
A Model of Jerusalem in the Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exhibition
Rehav Rubin

(Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

One of the most impressive events of the Louisiana Purchase centennial in 1904 was the large world fair in St. Louis, Missouri. It was planned as the largest world’s fair ever, and was indeed a huge and impressive affair. Besides the numerous pavilions dedicated to various aspects of American contemporary life, such as pavilions of the federal agencies and the states, technology, agriculture, mine and metallurgy, education etc., it had several pavilions, which exhibited remote places and cultures in other parts of the world. They were planned to bring the world to the Americans, thus saving them the necessity to travel afar. The largest, and perhaps the most interesting enterprise among those pavilions, was the Jerusalem Exhibition. In a central place within the fair, one a large area of more than 10 acres, a full scale (1:1) model of the old city of Jerusalem was built. Over three hundred exact replicas of Jerusalem’s houses, including the city’s citadel, walls and gates, churches, mosques and synagogues, and many other buildings, were erected, made of wood and papers. Moreover, several hundred Jerusalemites, Jews, Moslems and Christians, were brought to St. Louis, along with their camels and donkeys, households and tools, to live in this model, guide the visitors, and to sell their merchandise in the shops which were located in the model’s buildings. People came to Jerusalem in St. Louis, visited it, had a tour on camel-back in its alleys, and were even married in the church of the Holy Sepulchre.

It seems that at that time, America was already well aware of its new acquired space, and Americans were ready to turn their attention to other parts of the world. Moreover, America found itself strong and mature enough to bring the remote and exotic places home and creating virtual substitutes for traveling afar. The Jerusalem Exhibition, like other travel substitutes, enabled people to “discover” the world, while still staying at home. This regulated form of “discovering” had a major role in the image making of the holy city, and other parts of the world alike, among many Americans.

This paper will present this model and its history. It will study the aims and ideas of its entrepreneurs. It will analyze these issues within the context of geographical travels and their substitutes.

Marco Polo’s New World Expeditions:
The Role of Commercial Espionage in Westward Expansion and Discovery
from Labrador to Louisiana and the Pacific
Gunnar Thompson

(New World Discovery Institute)

As late as the Lewis & Clark expedition into the Louisiana Territory in 1804, explorers were still seeking an ephemeral “shortcut” to the Western Sea and trade with the Orient. The quest was ignited in the mid-1400s by the sudden popularity of Marco Polo’s travelogue, Description of The World. This crazy quilt of scientific revelation and outrageous fantasy inspired credulous explorers over a span of nearly four centuries.

The enduring impact of Marco Polo’s lost “Northwest Passage” or “Strait of Anian” can be attributed to the common practice of using maps as instruments of commercial espionage. Cartographers and explorers had more obstacles to contend with than climatic changes and compass error when it came to blazing pathways through the wilderness. The so-called “maps” they copied from rivals often had deliberate inaccuracies that were intended to mislead unwary pioneers. Thus, Portuguese charts of the 15th century deceptively showed Marco Polo’s Japan and Cathay (China) a short distance west of Europe; and Spaniards duped the English into publishing maps that showed California as an island. Even French explorers followed the fading chimeras of the Verazano Sea, the River Oregon, and the River of the Khan (Canada) as they headed west.

A substantial portion of the confusion stemmed from Marco Polo’s secret voyages to the West Coast of the New World. He led fairly substantial expeditions in his capacity as a special revenue agent for Kublai Khan. The tangible evidence we have that such voyages actually took place consists of a number of very early maps showing the coasts of Alaska, Vancouver Island, Puget Sound, California, and Peru. It was Marco’s job to determine the points of origin and costs for such valuable Chinese imports as furs, jade, emeralds, gold, and cochineal -- a vermilion dye used for the emperor’s paper money.

Leo Bagrwo published a number of Marco Polo’s New Work maps in 1946 showing the coast of Alaska and British Columbia. Flemish and Venetian maps of the 15th and 16th centuries indicated the West Coast locations of Marco’s New World territories of “Anian,” “Quivira,” “Toloman,” and “Paru.” These names confirm an earlier belief among Flemish cartographers that Marco Polo had indeed visited New World shores. Although some scholars have disputed the importance of Flemish maps (and Bagrow’s data), numerous Chinese artifacts found along the West Coast, the presence of Chinese horse breeds in Ancient America, and Native tales of visitors from the Orient provide corroboration. Most telling is a statement by Marco that he had traveled to a region of the Far North “where the Pole Star was behind him as he proceeded in a northerly direction.” This geophysical phenomenon occurs only in British Columbia.

A Geographical Analysis of Monuments for Christopher Columbus
Peter van der Krogt

(University of Utrecht)

On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus set foot upon one of the Bahamas. The Age of Discovery had begun. Columbus became a metaphor for discovery, adventure, bravery, daring and perseverance. He set into motion a series of historical events that resulted in an entirely new world.

The first monument for Columbus was erected on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the discovery, in 1792, in Baltimore, MD. In the same time, there was a serious movement afoot to rename the United States of America “Columbia.” That goal was not achieved, but the capital district was given the name District of Columbia, and several cities across the United States were named Columbus or Columbia. In the 19th century, about a dozen other monuments were erected to honor the Admiral.

By the 400th anniversary, all of North America joined in a celebration that lasted an entire year. Italian Americans raised the money necessary to erect a giant monument to Columbus in New York City’s Central Park. Exhibits, parades, and festivities throughout the country culminated in Chicago at the World’s Columbian Exposition.

In that year and the following years, Columbus monuments mushroomed all over the world, especially in the United States. My research on the WWW and during my holidays resulted in over 300 memorials all over the world. I made a website with the intention to list and illustrate these monuments. <>

The First Published Cartographic Images
of the Lewis and Clark Expedition - 1809
James V. Walker, M.D.

Following the return of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1806, eight years lapsed before the 1814 publication of the History of the Expedition…with the accompanying landmark map drawn from a compilation of data from Lewis and Clark, Pike, Henry and others.

However, there were many publications prior to 1814 that gave first hand or derived accounts of the expedition. In The Literature of the Lewis and Clark Expeditions (2003) Stephen Dow Beckham and coauthors give a detailed history of this literature. My interest is the first commercially available cartographic material prior to 1814 that both Carl Wheat (Mapping the Trans Mississippi West) and Beckham list as starting with the map accompanying Hubbard Lester’s publication in Philadelphia in April 1809. Both this map and a similar one published by Longman in London in September 1809 (Beckham) were based on Samuel Lewis’ Louisiana published in 1804 (A New and Elegant General Atlas). Another map not described by Wheat or Beckham drawn by J. B. Poirson in Paris and dated 1809 has additional legends and more topographical detail related to Lewis and Clark than the other two. I will discuss these maps and likely sources of information of the Poirson map.

There may well be earlier maps that illustrate features specific to the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Though sketchy in detail, these 1809 maps were likely influential to the reading public of Philadelphia, London and Paris. Here were illustrated the previously unknown drainage systems of the Western border of Louisiana clearly Americanized with the names of the (1804) U.S. President (Jefferson), Secretary of the Treasury (Gallatin), and Secretary of State (Madison). Indeed, the legend of the over-winter site of Capt. Lewis at Ft. Clatsop at the mouth of the Columbia River was a most important document of discovery some five years before the 1814 official publication map and 37 years before the 1846 Oregon Treaty establishing US sovereignty over the Oregon Country below the 49th parallel.

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