What's in a name? Early Mississippi Maps


This map of Mississippi Territory in 1816 was created just one year before statehood by cartographer and publisher, Fielding Lucas Jr., who was manager of the Conrad, Lucas, and Co. publishing house out of Philadelphia.

From the collection of the Dunn-Seiler Museum.

Mississippi Territory

The state of Mississippi's western border is defined by the meandering shape of the Mississippi River, which earned its name from the Native American Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) people of the upper midwest and Canada, where the headwaters of the massive river originate. The Anishinaabe word "Misi-zibi" means "Great River".

Before Mississippi became a state, the territory included present day Alabama and Mississippi, and encompassed the ancestral lands of the Chickasaw Nation to the north, the Choctaw Nation to the south, and the Natchez people to the west. According to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, there were at least twenty-one distinct, native tribes in Mississippi between 1500 and 1800, most of which had small populations. This map shows the borders of Mississippi Territory in 1816, with the lands of the most poplulous native tribes clearly labeled.

MS_Early State1822_AFinley_Phillie_MSHS1969.jpg

Map of Mississippi showing its boundaries and borders in 1822, only five years after statehood (December 10, 1817). Some recognizable counties are starting to form in the southern part of the state, and the nations of the Chickasaw and Choctaw have been greatly reduced and pushed to the north.

From the collection of the Dunn-Seiler Museum.

Early Statehood

The second map shows the boundary of Mississippi in 1822, just after statehood. You can see how the Chickasaw and Choctaw nations decreased in size and become more well-defined as they were forced out of their ancestral lands by white settlers.

David Holmes, a man from Virginia, was elected to be the state’s first governor after having held the position while the region was still a territory. Walter Leake and Thomas Williams became the first senators, and George Poindexter was the first representative.

What's in a Name? Early Mississippi Maps