Saturday, March 20, 2010

Distribution Maps from the 1870 US Census

I subscribe to an e-newsletter, Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, written by Dick Eastman. Yesterday the newsletter included an article entitled "What the Census Said about 1870." He had come across a link to The Statistical Atlas of the United States that was published in 1874 and included a link to the website, Radical Cartography.

I clicked on the link and found 53 map and charts created from the data gathered in the 1870 Census. Some of the maps were drawn from data collected separate from the census. These maps included physical features of the United States such as river systems, woodlands, rainfall, frequency of storm centers, coal measures, etc.

A set of maps under the heading "The Progress of the Nation, 1790 - 1820" was quite interesting. The maps illustrated the population density for each decade from 1790 through 1820, excluding the native American population.

In 1790, the population is densest along the coast from New Hampshire to North Carolina and part of South Carolina. The most densely populated states at this time are Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. While the most sparsely populated states are Maine and Georgia except along the coastal region. Since most of Georgia was in Indian territory, I was not surprised to find the number of people living there small. Maine, on the other hand, has me wondering.

The upper portion of Pennsylvania and most of New York were sparsely populated. Virginia and the Carolinas are fairly well-populated throughout the state. Virginia included what today is West Virginia. With the exception of a part of Kentucky along the Ohio River, there are very few people west of the original 13 states.

The map illustrating the population distribution in 1800 reveals movement of people in Pennsylvania toward the border with New York and of people into western New York. By this time people are moving into Tennessee and more people are settled in Kentucky along the much of the length of the Ohio River. I am surprised that in 1800, Ohio is still sparsely settled as land warrants were issued for land in the Ohio Territory in lieu of pay to soldiers who fought in the American Revolution.

Since none of the maps include population information of land that is not part of the United States, the 1790 and 1800 maps do not include population information in Louisiana and in the parts of the current states that comprised the Louisiana Purchase.

The 1810 map includes population information in Louisiana. In this map, most people are living along the Red and Mississippi Rivers. The map also reveals that people are settled on the Mississippi between what is now Illinois and Missouri.

This map shows that by 1810 about three quarters of Ohio is well-populated. So some time between the 1800 Census and 1810, people moved into Ohio. People are also beginning to move into Indiana along the Ohio River while western Tennessee remains sparsely populated as is northern Maine.

Mississippi, Alabama and western Georgia are part of Indian territory and have a very small population.
A large area of northeastern New York, of northwestern Pennsylvania, and of western Virginia into Kentucky are sparsely populated and may have something to do with the topography of those areas.

The area of Virginia and Kentucky that are sparsely populated in the 1810 map shrank considerably by 1820. The area of northwestern Pennsylvania that is sparsely populated in 1820 is also smaller. However, the population in the area of northeastern New York and the northern half of Maine are not changed. I wonder why?

The map indicates that the Indian territory in Alabama is gone and people are settled throughout most of the state and into southern Mississippi. People are settling into the westernmost part of the Florida panhandle near Alabama after 1819 when the United States acquired Florida

The southern portions of Indiana and Illinois and more of Missouri along the Mississippi River and now along the Missouri River are settled by 1820. People are also settling along the Mississippi and Arkansas Rivers in Arkansas.

These maps were great fun to analyze. I plan take a look at my tree to see how where my relatives settled compares to the information on these maps

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