Exploration and Discovery in the Heartland of America

Earliest Chicago Maps

Rewriting the Earliest Cartographic History of the Heartland of North America

The Jolliet Map Hoax

The Jolliet Map came to light in 1879. The document is in the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University. Note the smudged appearance of the black lettering in the top left corner. This identifies the original map Gravier acquired in 1879 and published the following year.

Right, title page, of the 1880 French publication, √Čtude sur une carte inconnue (Study on an Unknown Map). It was comprised of a fifty page text with the printed map as a foldout.

The Marquette Map Hoax

The map came to light in 1844 as the "long lost" 1674 Marquette map, "drawn in his own hand." That had been averred by Reuben Gold Thwaites, editor of the prodigiously influential 73 volume Jesuit Relations (1896-1901). Thwaites was later to change his mind, disavowing his claim the map was drafted by Marquette himself.

The current writer's three part Marquette Map Hoax Thesis was presented at the Newberry Library in 2005, to the Chicago Map Society.

(1.) Marquette had no map training, (2.) he was not associated with any other maps, and (3.) nevertheless, the Illinois River, shaped as three sides of an octagon, had never appeared on the maps of any acclaimed cartographers until those John Melish in the 19th Century.

Marquette had no specialized map schooling and was associated with no other maps. Notwithstanding, he is argued in Jesuit apologia to have been sufficiently talented to have drawn the Illinois River, with its three sides of an octogon shape, nearly a century-and-a-half before such having been drawn by scores of acclaimed map makers.


Chicago Folk Etymology Explained

Link (a PDF file -- requires Adobe Reader)

The material in the link is the tour de force of more than two decades of work. Altough there are other bits and pieces I could weave into it, it stands alone as a complete work and with humble pride, my greatest accomplishement.



Background: In 1997 I chose the Chicago word as the subject of an article for "Linguistically Speaking...," my column in College News. This hardcopy paper went to colleges and unversities in greater Chicagoland. (I have an MA in historical linguists/phonology, with my BA in history.)

For my Chicago word research, within a short time I began hard copy and computer folders for 17th century primary sources and later secondary sources. In 2001, I gave a presentation at the Newberry Library, "Chicago Still Ain't the Onion." My handout still holds up well. I concluded Chicago was not named for the smelly onion, which is a folk etymology.

I gave evidence for La Salle as the originator of the use of the word. The curator of the Newberry Library Map Collection, Robert Karrow, was at my presentation in 2001. We discussed a 1684 map, La Louisiane, by Franquelin, with the Chicago word on it, which through my efforts, became parts of the map collections of the Chicago History Museum and the Newberry Library. At the time, I believed this map to be the earliest example of the Chicago word on a map. I thought it fitting that the map was in Chicago.