On March 19, the Mason Square Museum, on the north side of the courthouse square in Mason, Texas will present a new exhibit of rare maps of America and the lands that are now Texas. Beginning with maps as early as 1595 by Magini and Porro, the display includes early cartography showing the shores of the new world only a hundred years after its discovery.
The collection includes maps by A. Ortelius from a small atlas of 1601 and a decorative map of “Americae” by Gerard Mercator from 1610. Several examples show the progressive understanding of the shape and errors in geographical information, including maps showing California as an island, and spanning the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Mapmakers such as Philipp Cluver, G. De’Lisle, and Merian are represented and the political boundaries often change with the nationality of the map publisher.
An early, certain political nationality that represents the land that has become Texas seems to date from 1821 when Mexico threw off the burden of Spanish rule. Several maps show the borders of Mexico encompassing the “vast space of land unknown” part of which become the Lone Star state. Only fifteen years later, on the battlefield of San Jacinto, the Texians claimed their own independence and although the boundaries were uncertain, a number of maps are included that show the Republic of Texas.
When Texas joined the United States in 1845 the boundaries finally began to stabilize and become set. Maps from atlases by Johnson, Colton, G. Cram and Gray show the westward expansion of the union as well as the westward settlement of the new state. From the 1850’s until the 1880’s the state of Texas slowly divided up its western territory into the 254 counties we know today, and the lands began to fill with the pioneers and settlers that came and made Texas their home. The chapter of our history that encompassed the Civil War is recorded by official government maps of Texas and the Confederate States that were published late in the nineteenth century. The final map in the exhibit is a large railroad map of 1907 showing the progressive settlements and small towns that dotted the Texas landscape a hundred years ago. Over two dozen maps are displayed that show the progress of states and nations in developing the land that is now the great state of Texas. They are highlighted by pages from a publication of the Texas Centennial in 1936 that show the progress of the six flags that flew over this great state.
The Mason Square Museum is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm.
For more information, call 325-347-0507 or 325-347-6781.