University of Rochester Library Bulletin: The Lure of the Land Promoter, A Bibliographical Study of Certain New York Real Estate Rarities

Volume XXIV · Winter-Spring 1969  ·  Number 2 & 3
The Lure of the Land Promoter: A Bibliographical Study of Certain New York Real Estate Rarities

When General Sullivan's army went swinging along through the glades and across the ridges on their march to the Genesee in 1799, their keen eyes were watchful, not only for the lurking Iroquois but also for new homes for themselves. As they sat around their campfires on the shores of Canandaigua Lake or on the banks of "The Beautiful River," they carefully recorded in their diaries their surprise and joy at finding such rich soil, such thrifty crops of Indian corn and beans, and such beautiful rolling country, with lovely lakes and streams, and all within comparatively easy reach of their own stony, unproductive New England farms.

After the Iroquois had been punished for Wyoming and Cherry Valley and had been driven to the protection of the walls of Fort Niagara, with their homes and crops left in ashes, and after peace had been declared, the weary and impoverished soldiers who had been on the Sullivan Expedition went back to their homes fully determined to move to the west and settle in the tax-free, rich, and beautiful Genesee Country. As the discharged Revolutionary soldiers returned from the war they found their farms neglected, their buildings in need of repair, and war taxes swallowing the little they had saved. Very few had received regular pay and those few found that the depreciated currency given them was of little or no value. It was not worth a continental!

When they gathered of an evening in the public square of Norwalk or in the taproom of the Red Lion Inn at Stockbridge, their conversations very naturally took them back to the Genesee, and those who had seen this wonderful country to the west were often called on to tell of it to their land-hungry neighbors.

During these first years after the war, the men of affairs of Philadelphia and Boston, of New York and Lenox were also turning their eyes to these Iroquois lands along the Genesee. They too had lost heavily as a result of the war and were now hoping to rebuild their broken fortunes by speculation in these rich western lands. In order to open the new country for settlement, treaties and agreements were shortly put into effect between the United States and the Six Nations and between the several states. As a result we find men like Robert Morris and his sons Robert and Thomas; Oliver Phelps, Nathaniel Gorham, Israel Chapin, Nathaniel Rochester, the Wadsworths, and a host of others actively engaged in buying these lands from the Iroquois, and from the states which controlled them, and offering them to the eager Yankees and Pennsylvania farmers. Wealthy merchants in the cities were also induced to buy, while great tracts were sold to rich investors in England and Holland.

As a result of this period of wild speculation in Genesee lands, a small but now very rare and interesting promotion literature, made up of glowing land prospectuses and alluring maps, grew up and was scattered, broadcast, both in this country and in Europe in order to attract investors and actual settlers. In addition to newspaper advertisements, handbills, posters, and leaflets, about a dozen important pamphlets were issued by the various land companies and we find them published in English, French, German, and Dutch, generally with neither the name of author nor publisher on their title pages. Though each was obviously written in the interest of some one company with the hope of attracting investors or settlers, each attempted to appear as the unbiased observation of an outsider with no ax to grind. For this reason there are many interesting bibliographical puzzles encountered in studying them. However, their argument frequently discovers their source and, though the names of the land companies do not appear as publishers, we can trace most of these rare pamphlets to Robert Morris, the Holland Land Company, or to Charles Williamson, the active and enthusiastic agent of the English Associates who bought heavily from Robert Morris. The stories of the settlement of the various purchases have been told and retold but most writers either have not known of the rare promotion tracts and maps or have ignored them, not realizing their importance in pointing the way to the frontier lands. A few of the more important and the more puzzling are discussed here.


Phelps and Gorham Purchase, 1788

After the Revolution both Massachusetts and New York claimed the former Iroquois lands of Western New York, basing their contentions on their original royal charters which, unfortunately, overlapped in this area. The controversy was finally settled in December 1786 and ratified by the two legislatures the following spring, making this new territory of some six million acres a legal part of the State of New York but leaving Massachusetts the right to sell the land, subject to the extinguishment of the Indian title.

A large group of greedy land speculators immediately tried to secure the lands but they were finally sold to two prominent Massachusetts men, Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham and their associates, for £300,000, Massachusetts currency, to be paid in the depreciated consolidated securities of the state. Phelps and Gorham immediately ran into trouble. They were only able to secure title from the Iroquois to a third (roughly two million acres of the purchase at their treaty at Buffalo Creek, July 8, 1788). This part of the larger tract was roughly that between Seneca Lake and the Genesee River. They immediately moved in, established their headquarters at Canandaigua and opened a land office which soon sold about half of the land to actual settlers.

However, they had trouble meeting their payments to Massachusetts, and the prospect of the federal government's taking over the state war debts raised the value of the Massachusetts securities to an unexpected high which Phelps and Gorham could not possibly pay. In 1790 they sold to Robert Morris the unsold part of their Iroquois treaty lands, except for two towns which they reserved for themselves. Morris promptly resold them at a fine profit to the English Associates—this sale amounting to about a million and a quarter acres. Phelps and Gorham were finally forced to relinquish claim to the other two-thirds of the original purchase—a tract of some four million acres, which was then sold on March 12, 1791, to Robert Morris for £100,000 or $333,333.

Having reserved for himself 100,000 acres of the best Genesee Valley land, which he later lost on a mortgage to John B. Church, Morris, in the summer of 1793, sold 3,300,000 acres to a group of Dutch speculators, who organized as the Holland Land Company and proceeded to sell to actual settlers a large part of the territory from the Genesee River to Lake Ontario. It is the promotion literature of Phelps and Gorham, Robert Morris, the English Associates, and the Holland Land Company with which we are now concerned.

Since Phelps and Gorham sold half of their confirmed purchase to actual settlers who came to their land office at Canandaigua and the rest to Robert Morris, they had no need for an elaborate sales program other than a few advertisements in the New England newspapers and the persuasive arguments of William Walker, the local agent, and his assistant Enos Boughton. However, they did issue an official map, drawn by their surveyor, Augustus Porter, which, with corrections, was copied by the English Associates for use in their own sales program. The original map is described as follows:

A/map/of/Messrs. Gorham & Phelps's/Purchase:/now the County of/ Ontario,/in the State of/New York;/From actual Survey/By A Porter/ Engraved by A. Doolittle N Haven/[c. 1794]
Folio map (69.5 x 48 cm. over all, 62.4 x 40 cm. within the plate mark). Evans 29341, Bates supplement to Trumbull's Connecticut Imprints, p.43. DLC, NCanHi (Oliver Phelps's copy mounted on cloth and on rollers), NHi, Shows roughly the territory from Seneca Lake west to the Genesee River and from Lake Ontario south to Pennsylvania.

A few of the fundamental documents relating to the purchase are at the Ontario County Historical Society, Canandaigua, N.Y.; the bulk of the Oliver Phelps papers at the New York State Library. The Israel Chapin papers, the William Walker papers and Thomas Morris papers dealing with the purchase are at the New-York Historical Society. Transcripts of the more important Walker papers, made by George S. Conover, the historian of Geneva, in 1889, were owned by R.W.G. Vail. A selection of them, edited by Conover, appeared in five chapters in the Geneva Gazette in 1889; another selection in the [Canandaigua] Ontario County Times in seven chapters about 1889-1890. Both series, clipped and mounted, are in the New-York Historical Society.


Robert Morris, 1791

An/account /of the/soil, growing timber, and other productions,/of the/ lands in the countries situated in the back parts of/the states of New-York and Pennsylvania,/in/North America./ And/particularly the lands in the County of Ontario,/known by the name of/The Genesee Tract,/lately located, and now in the progress of being settled./[French rule]/[London:] printed in the year 1791.

[2], 37, 4, [39]-45p., consisting of title page (verso blank), not paged in; the two maps, not paged in; An account of the lands called the Genesee Tract, in the County of Ontario, and State of New-York, in North America. (Caption title), [11-37; blank, [38]; Thoughts on emigration. [By William Temple Franklin] (Caption title), [1]-4; Remarks for the information of those who wish to become settlers in America. The production of a very celebrated American statesman and philosopher, [Benjamin Franklin] written a short time previous to his decease. (Caption title), [39]-45p. (verso of p. 45 blank), 2 folded maps, described below.

Sabin 26926. BM, DLC, MBAt, MWA, NHi, NN (photostat copy). The DLC and MWA copies issued with first part through p. 37 and the two maps only. The DLC has photostat copy and the MWA copy lacks the maps.

Maps:  A map of the Genesee Tract, in the County of Ontario, & State of New York;/shewing its distance from & water communication with New York, Philadeiphia & Baltimore:-also/its distance from the new City of Columbia, or the proposed seat of government of the United States.

The tract: Genesee Lands (Phelps and Gorham Purchase) is colored to show the townships already sold. (NYHS copy). It also appears uncolored (English Associates papers at Ontario County Historical Society). A copy of this map, with numerous additions and captions in French will be found in Van Pradelles: Rèflections offertes, Amsterdam, 1792. This map shows the territory from Cape Henry to Lake Ontario and from New England to Fort Pitt. It shows the roads, trails and waterways into the Genesee Country by way of the Mohawk and Finger Lakes and also from Philadelphia and Baltimore. (21 x 33.5 cm. plate measure).

Second map: A map of the Genesee lands in the County of Ontario and State of New York/ according to an accurate survey which was made of the same 1790.

This map is colored to show townships already sold; water also colored. (NYHS copy). There is a colored and another uncolored, the latter annotated to show names of purchasers, with other notes, in the English Associates papers at Ontario County Historical Society. The map shows townships of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase sold and settled, townships sold and being settled, villages, grist and saw mills. It is laid off in townships and ranges. The tract is notable in that it was the first attempt in America to develop a new territory by surveying it into townships and ranges, a procedure generally followed in later developments. This map follows the original survey of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase and shows the old and incorrect preemption line along the eastern border of the tract. This line, which left Geneva out of the tract, was later resurveyed to include that town and a narrow wedge of territory, called the Gore, the entire length of the tract, including the northwest edge of Seneca Lake which had been entirely outside the original survey. This map is reprinted inDocumentary History of New York. (21.3 x 36 cm., plate measure).

An examination of the signatures of this work shows that its second part, Thoughts on emigration, was purposely inserted between pages 38 and 39. Pages 1-[38] occupy signatures B-K (there is, as frequently happens, no signature J); Thoughts on emigration, p. [1]-4, unsignatured, occupies the place of the missing signature L; pp. [39]-45 occupy signatures M-N.

This work was issued in the interest of Robert Morris, who probably wrote the main text, and was printed in London, according to Van Pradelles, probably by Morris' agent there, William Temple Franklin, grandson of Benjamin Franklin. He was successful, doubtless with the aid of this booklet and its maps, in selling the remaining unsold portions of the tract to the English Associates (Pulteney, Hornby and Colquhoun). The promptness of the sale made it unnecessary to circulate this work widely—hence its rarity.

It was reprinted, with the omission of part of the footnote on maple sugar, in the third edition of Gilbert Imlay:Topographical description of the western territory of North America, 1797, p. 458-485; reprinted from Imlay with the further omission of the long note on the operations of the American farmer, the Thoughts on emigrationand Franklin's Remarks, in the Documentary history of the State of New York (quarto ed.), 1850-1851, vol. II, 646-654; and in same (octavo ed.) II, 1111-1125.

Benjamin Franklin has left us the following account of the pamphlet which he wrote and printed in 1784 for the guidance of those interested in American lands. In a letter written on March 9, 1784, to Charles Thomson, President of Congress, he said:

I am pestered continually with numbers of letters from people in different parts of Europe, who would go to settle in America, but who manifest very extravagant expectations, such as I can by no means encourage, and who appear otherwise to be very improper persons. To save myself trouble, I have just printed some copies of the enclosed little piece, which I propose to send hereafter in answer to such letters.

This pamphlet was printed by Franklin at his private press at Passy, both in English and French. The English title is: [Built up woodcut ornament]/Information/to those/who would remove/to America. [Caption title], 12 pp. (15.5 x 10.5 cm.). The title of the French edition of the pamphlet is: Avis/a ceux/qui voudraient s'en aller/en Amerique. 15 pp., consisting of title page (verso blank), [1-2]; text, [3]-15 (verso blank). Only 15 or 20 copies were printed, according to Ford's Franklin biography, and Livingston's Franklin and his press at Passy.  There were many editions in English, French, Italian and German. It is probable that Franklin's grandson William Temple Franklin, who had been his secretary while he lived at Passy, caused his grandfather's article to be added to the tract he prepared to aid in the sale of Morris' land.

The German translations of the above work follow:

First title: Berichte/über den/Genesee-Distrikt/in dem/Staate von Neu-York/der/vereinigten Staaten von Nord-Amerika/nach der/im Jahr 1791/Englischen herausgegebenen  Ausgabe/übersetzt./[rule]/[Hamburg] Gedruckt im December 1791.

32,8, 8 pp., 8 (19.5 x 12 cm.). Original brown wrappers, all edges cut. MH (2 copies, one with additional text and map inserted, as below, photostat copies at NHi and NN.

First title is a translation with slight changes and long notes omitted, of Robert Morris' An account of the soil(William Temple Franklin edition), 1791, by William Berczy, Agent of the English Associates for bringing German emigrants to the Company's Western New York lands. In this work he is styled "Agent of the Genesee Association of London."

Second title: Betrachtungen/über/Auswanderung/der/ Völker (Caption title) is a translation by Berczy ofThoughts on emigration by William Temple Franklin. pp. [1]-8.

Third title: Auszug/der/Anmerkungen/zum/Unterricht derhenigen Europäer./die sich in Amerika diederzulassen gesonnen sind,/von/dem letzlich verstorbenen berühmten/Dr. Franklin. (Caption title), is a translation by Berczy of Remarks for the information of those who wish to become settlers in America by Benjamin Franklin. [1]-8 pp. All three titles are translated from An account of the soil.

Second copy at Harvard has following additions. Following main text: A Map of the Genesee Tract, . . . from the plate of the first English edition; text without title, beginning: Da es der erstlichste Wunsch der Genesee Association ist, . . . Hamburg, April, 1792. [1]-16 pp. William Berczy's statement of the terms and contract offered the German settlers; text without title, beginning: Es gehen jährlich viele Hundert gute arbeitsame teutsche Landleute und Handwerker . . . , [1]-16 pp. This general information for German emigrants to America, from the same press (Hamburg, 1792) as the preceding, was doubtless also by William Berczy. Bound in at the end is a folded broadside redemptioner contract, left half in English, right half in German, filled out and signed by William Berczy, at Hamburg, April 17, 1792.

For English text of the Association's contract with the Germans, see William Berczy's Williamsburg documents, in Rochester Historical Society Publications, XX:253-260.

Another German translation of the Account of the soil: Kurze Beschreibung des Geneseedistrikts in Nordamerika. Bremen, 1792. 8 vo. Title from Sabin 38359 which gives no further description and no location, though there is a copy at the New York Public Library.

The scheme for bringing German emigrants to the Association's tract in Western New York was a failure since the emigrants from German cities were totally unsuited to pioneer life. Berczy and his German colony finally removed to Canada to the great relief of all concerned.

Réflections [sic]/offertes aux/capitalistes/de/l'Europe,/sur les bénéfices immences [sic],/que présente l'achat de/terres incultes, situées/dans les/Etats-Unis/de/l'Amerique./[fiower basket ornament]/A Amsterdam./[thick-thin rule]/1792. See translation by Mr. Vail.

42 pp., folded map, folded table, consisting of title page (verso blank), [i-ii]; Préface, [iii-iv]; (p. iv is wrongly paged vi)]; text, [5]-42 p., folded map described below, folded table: Appercu des progres probables dans la valeur. . . [etc., three lines, and table showing probable profit on the sale of 400,000 acres of uncultivated Genesee lands] (verso blank), not paged in, 8vo. (22 x 13.2 cm.). Issued in plain blue-grey boards, top edges uncut. Sabin 98538. DLC, MB, NHi, NIC, RPJCB, University of Rochester Library. NN has a photostat copy of the DLC copy.

Map: Carte servant a faire connaitre les distances et la situation du pays de laGenesee/relativement aux navigations et aux villes principales de l'Amerique. [Signed under left corner of map:] Gravé a Amsterdam, 26 cm. over all). Copy, with French titles and some additions, of the map: A map of the Genesee Tract. . . in: An account of the soil, 1791, above.

This French version of the map indicates the location of the Robert Morris Purchase west of the Genesee Lands(original Phelps & Gorham Purchase), the territory where sugar maples are prevalent and the following localities not indicated on the original map: Canadagua, GeneveQuaker T. [own], Catherine's T.[own], Newtown, all in New York, Easton, Pitsburg, LancasterChester, Wilmington, Alexandria, Annapolis and Mount Vernon. The engraver made a curious error in copying the map. He shows Columbia [Washington, D.C.] correctly but adds, some ninety miles northwest of that point, another town: Nouvelle Capitale des Etats-unis. A separately published folio map of Robert Morris' Purchase, etc. (without title) by same engraver was also published.

This real estate tract was primarily written to interest the rich merchants and bankers of Holland in the unsold portions of Robert Morris' New York lands west of the Genesee River, he having just sold what was left of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase to the English Associates in London. It is probable that three men had a hand in the preparation of this shrewdly thought-out booklet: Robert Morris, his London agent, William Temple Franklin, and a convenient joint-author-translator, Captain Benedict Van Pradelles, late of French Flanders but then of Philadelphia, who is generally called the author. A comparative study of the available writings of the three men discovers the fact that Morris and Van Pradelles expressed themselves clearly in short, crisp sentences, while Franklin used long, involved, flowery, pompous sentences frequently a page or more in length. This tract was clearly planned, with the factual and financial data set forth in short, persuasive sentences, probably by Robert Morris himself. A few short statements based on his experiences in the Genesee Country are obviously contributed by Van Pradelles, but the long, complicated, over-emotional sentences, scattered through the first twenty and last half-dozen pages, could only have been written by Franklin.

The pamphlet is based on Morris' An Account of the soil, 1791, the prospectus which had helped sell what was left of the old Phelps and Gorham Purchase to the English Associates. But in order to interest the shrewd Dutch investors who were not so well informed about American frontier lands, a more detailed and factual booklet had to be prepared. It is probable that Robert Morris, Sr. prepared a rough draft containing most of the necessary facts and figures and copying part of the text and one of the maps from his English pamphlet which he then handed to Franklin to be translated. The latter, having become even more conceited than usual because of the big deal he had put over the previous year with the Englishmen, and fancying himself as a super-salesman, could not resist the temptation to gild the lily. The result was the unfortunate series of long, involved and florid interpolations which he undoubtedly inserted in the text, to plague the poor Captain who had to turn the whole concoction into a palatable French dish for the Hollanders. This Van Pradelles did to the best of his ability but it was a difficult task, especially for one who did not have a perfect knowledge of the French language. And the same can be said with equal candor regarding our present translation back into English which, though imperfect, seems necessary since there is no other edition than the original French. After Van Pradelles had the French text ready for the press it was sent to Amsterdam for publication by Robert Morris, Jr., his father's agent there who needed it as part of his promotion campaign.

The booklet is of real importance for it is one of the first accounts of frontier America and especially of the Genesee Country to come to the attention of the people of Europe, and, with all its defects, it did succeed in helping Robert Morris, Jr. sell his father's greatest tract of New York lands to the Dutch investors. And it is also important since it is the springboard from which the Holland Land Company took off on their sales campaign, as you will readily see by comparing it with their first preliminary report: Voorafgaand bericht wegens eene negotiatie op landen in America, by Pieter Stadnitzki, published in Amsterdam later in 1792.

Captain Van Pradelles, who wrote or at least translated the Réflections, is a most elusive gentleman. He was apparently not of sufficient importance to be entitled to a biography or even a brief sketch in a biographical encyclopedia. It may therefore be a good idea to put on record the few glimpses we get of him in various places.

His full name was Benedict 1 Van Pradelles and he was born in French Flanders 2 in the seventeen-sixties 3 and served as an infantry captain 4 before coming to America about 1780.5 He seems to have settled in Philadelphia before 1790 6 and to have become an American citizen 7 soon after. He must have had good connections for he soon numbered among his friends such influential people as Robert Morris 8 and Albert Gallatin.9 The latter, then Secretary of the Treasury, was also a friend of his wife's parents. 10 She may have come to the United States with him, or more likely, married him here shortly after his arrival.

Van Pradelles, interested in American land speculation, explored the back country of New York State, visiting Unadilla, a settlement on the Susquehanna in Otsego County, and the Genesee Country about 1786-7.11 He and his wife went to Baltimore in September, 1790, on their way the following month to London and the Continent.12In 1792, perhaps while still abroad, he wrote or translated the Réflections either for Robert Morris or his London agent, William Temple Franklin, who then had it printed in Amsterdam.

Having returned to Baltimore by 1795,13 we find him in New Orleans on October 31, 1805, where he had secured a government job (probably through a Mr. Savery, one of his Philadelphia friends) as federal land commissioner for the eastern district of the Territory of Orleans. His commission was dated July 30, 1805.23 Not long after taking this position he left his pregnant wife in Kentucky where she became very ill, but finally, in 1806, presented him with twins. Being short of the necessary funds to take proper care of his wife and bring his family to New Orleans and having lost two slaves to add further to his worries, he asked for an advance on his salary. He was still in financial distress when Mr. Savery, probably a relative of William Savery, the recently deceased Quaker merchant-philanthropist of Philadelphia, lent Van Pradelles enough money to tide him over. While on field trips with Governor W.C.C. Claiborne in connection with his position,Van Pradelles sent numerous interesting private reports to Secretary Gallatin on the geography and economics of the new territory and on the temper of the people.14 and 23

On April 7, 1808, he was promoted to the permanent position of Register of the Land Office of the Eastern District, a position he held the rest of his life.15 and 23 He was also a notary public from November 29, 1806,16and23and in 1807-1808 a justice of the peace for the second quarter of the Parish of St. Louis in New Orleans.17and 23 Benedict Van Pradelles died at New Orleans some time between December 1 and 12, 1808.18 and 23Since his twins were born only two years earlier, he could not have been a very old man at the time of his death.

Van Pradelles was an adventure-loving, enthusiastic, improvident, hard-working man who made friends easily and inspired their confidence as to his patriotism, loyalty and ability.19 He was not too well equipped to write or translate the Réflections, though he had visited the New York frontiers he wrote about. His French, imperfectly learned after he became an adult, 20 was full of mistakes of spelling and grammar (there are two misspelled words in the title!). However, the page-long, involved, meandering sentences of the book are probably not his fault. A comparison with other examples of the writing of Robert Morris, Van Pradelles and William Temple Franklin shows that the two former wrote in simple, short, clear sentences while the latter had an atrocious style. His "opinionated, laborious and fussy" style 21 often resulted in his writing a "long, involved, and unbroken sentence of eighty words."22 About half of the text of the Réflections is written in what must be the simple, terse style of Morris, especially since only he had a grasp of the facts and figures recorded, while the other half is in the pompous, involved style of the younger Franklin, with here and there a sentence added by Van Pradelles from his own actual experiences on the frontier. So he should not be blamed for the involved translation into poor French which disturbs the reader and the translator. When entirely on his own, in his reports to Gallatin, Van Pradelles wrote a short, clear, intelligent and interesting style in either French or English showing that he was a man of good education with a keen and alert mind.

Voorafgaand/bericht,/wegens eene/negotiatie,/op landen in/America;/ door/Pieter Stadnitski./[wdct. cherub, branch in hand]/Amsterdam,/1792. See Vail translation.

37 p., consisting of preliminary blank leaf, [1-2]; title page (verso blank), [3-4]; text, [5]-37 p. (Verso of p. 37 blank), 8vo (18.5 x 11.5 cm.). Signatures A-b in eights, C in four. First and last leaves blank. Issued stitched, all edges cut. Sabin 90061. Copies located: DLC, MWA, N (title in photostat), NCanHi, NHi, NIC, NN (2 copies, one accompanied by six later reports, as below), U. of Amsterdam, University of Rochester.

With persuasive salesmanship backed up by the facts and arguments of Van Pradelles' Réflections, Robert Morris, Jr. sold a million acres of his father's Genesee lands to Stadnitski and the other Dutch speculators on December 28, 1792, but subject to the extinguishment of the Indian title and the surveying of the lands by the owner. Just four days earlier, Robert Morris, Sr. in Philadelphia had sold direct to Theophile Cazenove, American agent of the Dutch bankers, a million and a half acres of the adjoining lands (Morris' original contracts in NYHS-O'Rielly papers), so that by the end of the year they had contracted for two and a half million acres of what was to be called the Holland Purchase.

Before they had title to the land and before Morris could carry out his part of the bargain (his son Thomas did not clear the Indian title until 1797), Stadnitski wrote his Voorafgaand bericht in order to interest Dutch investors in buying stock in his proposed land company. Though this first Holland Purchase sales talk did not even tell where the lands were located and though his company had not yet actually bought them, the issue of stock was bought up in a few days and the Holland Land Company was a going concern. The actual facts and figures were published a few weeks later as soon as the purchase of the lands had been made. (A copy of the printed leaflet is among the company's papers in Amsterdam.) Stadnitski's preliminary report was based on Van Pradelles' Réflections supplemented by on-the-spot reports sent by the former's American agents Theophile Cazenove, Jan Lincklaen and Gerrit Boon.

Stadnitski's booklet was published before there was a survey or map of the lands concerned, but while the survey was still in progress a preliminary map was sent to the company in Amsterdam where it was published about 1792-1793 as follows:

[Map of the Holland Purchase without title] C. van Baarsel, sculpsit, Amsterdam. [ca. 1793-1794]. Folio engraved map (71.5 x 53 cm. over all, 63.5 x  44 cm. within the plate mark.) A copy owned by New York State Library.

Shows the area from the border of western territory west of Presque Isle [Erie, Pa.] east to Seneca Lake; from lower shore of Lake Ontario south to northern Pennsylvania.

Main captions within map: Part of the State of New York; State of Pennsylvania; Robert Morris's Purchase. Shows lakes, rivers, forts, portages, Rijckman's Reservation; towns of Romulus, Ovid, Hector; Phelps and Gorham Purchase is shown without names of towns; Morris' Purchase shown as partly surveyed, with forts and Indian towns named but no white settlements. Trails from Genesee to Niagara River and to Lake Ontario are indicated.

Probably the earliest published map of Western New York prepared for the use of the Holland Company. Engraved with English titles but issued in Holland for use of the Dutch investors. Precedes the Ellicott map of the purchase dated 1800, but published in 1801. Van Baarsel also engraved the map in Van Pradelles' Réflections.

The original manuscript of the later Map of the Holland Land Company's Preliminary Survey, 1797, is in the Grosvenor branch of the Buffalo Public Library and is published in the Livingston County Historical Society's A History of the Treaty of Big Tree, 1897, p. 91.

As the surveys of the purchase progressed and more complete geographical information became available, Joseph and Benjamin Ellicott, the Company's surveyors, provided a new manuscript map which was engraved, presumably in Amsterdam, in 1800, for the use of the stockholders in Holland. It is described as follows:

Map/of two million acres of land/West Genesee/in the State of New York/recorded in the names of Wilhem Willink;/Nics van Staphorst;/ Pieter van Eeghen;/Hendrick Vollenhoven;/Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck./To the/Society in Holland; this map/is respectfully inscribed/bij/ Joseph & B. Ellicott/1800. [Amsterdam? 1800]. (66 x 52 cm.).

Title of a folio map described by William H. Samson from an original owned in 1904 by Howard L. Osgood of Rochester who bought it about 1894 in Holland for $8.00. Mr. Samson says:

"This looks to me like a map made from partial surveys, because some parts of the territory are left absolutely blank. . . . The names of the proprietors are given on this map and though dated 1800, was probably made before all the surveys were completed, and possibly before the company [Holland Land Company] was really organized in Holland." It is probable that this map is now with the other Osgood papers in the Rochester Historical Society, Rochester Public Library, though it may be with a portion of the Osgood papers at the Ontario County Historical Society, Canandaigua, N. Y.

Since the map was secured in Holland and since the Dutch word bij is used in the English title instead of by, it is probable that this map was engraved in Amsterdam, the home of the company, from an original map supplied by the Ellicotts. Its rarity is probably explained by its being superseded by the American map which was made after the surveys were completed. The dimensions of this map are taken from the description of another (or perhaps the same) copy which was offered in the Frederick Muller catalogue of books on America, part 3, 1874, no. 3037, at fifteen florins ($6.00) and the same copy in his 1877 catalogue, no. 1214 at the same price. This map was quickly superseded by the first edition of the American map, the main survey, begun in the fall of 1797, having been completed in the fall of 1800. It is described as follows:

Map/of/Morris's Purchase/or/West Geneseo[sic]/In the State of New York:/Exhibiting/Part of the Lakes Erie and Ontario, the/Straights [sic] of Niagara, Chautauque Lake/and all the principal Waters, the Boundary/lines of the several Tracts of Land purchased/by the Holland Land Company/William and John Willink/and others./Boundary lines of Townships:/Boundary lines of New York and/Indian Reservations:/Laid down from actual Survey:/Also/A Sketch of part of Upper Canada by/ Joseph & B. Ellicott/1800./[rule]/To the/Holland Land Company/their General Agents/Theophilus Cazenove & Paul Busti Esquires/This Map/ Is respectfully inscribed/by the Authors./Explanation./ [6 lines] [New York? 1801]. Folio map (76 x 54.5 cm. over all, 67.5 x 52.3 within the plate mark). NHi.

The date of publication of this map is generally given as 1800, the date engraved on it, but in the Report on the survey of the Holland Purchase, Buffalo Historical Society Publications, 32, 1937, p. 103, and following, Ellicott says that "A reduced map was sent to the engraver," and, on Feb. 14, 1800, "To cash paid towards engraving a plate for the general map. $260.00," and, writing to the general agent, Paul Busti, on Feb. 17, 1801, he says: "the engraver has not yet executed the map of the Holland Company's land."

This was the most important map of the Holland Purchase and was extensively used in America for the promotion of sales to actual settlers who did not need an accompanying descriptive booklet such as was prepared for investors and settlers from abroad, since the Americans were on the ground and could see the property for themselves.

The same engraved plate was greatly improved in the second edition by the addition of numerous roads, the village of Batavia, local headquarters of the purchase, and of the date 1804 following the dedication. This final version of the Holland Purchase map is to be found in several historical collections including the Library of Congress and New-York Historical Society.

The general agent of the company in America from its organization until 1799 had been Theophile Cazenove, for whom the town of Cazenovia was named by the local agent, Jan Lincklaen. The second general agent was Paul Busti from 1800 to 1820. Joseph Ellicott was appointed local Western New York agent of the Holland Land Company, October 1, 1800, with temporary headquarters at Asa Ransom's house in Ransom's Hollow, Erie County. One of his first official acts was the publication of the following prospectus. Headquarters of the company were later removed to Batavia, N.Y., where their original building is still preserved as a local museum, still containing a few of the original records of the company. One volume of the local Western New York records of the company is at the New-York Historical Society, most of the rest at the Buffalo Historical Society, with some of the manuscript maps and surveys in the office of the Secretary of State or in the State Library at Albany. Ellicott's modest prospectus is described as follows:

Holland Land Company West Geneseo Lands—Information. The Holland Land Company will open a land office in the ensuing month of  September, for the sale of a portion of their valuable lands in the Genesee Country . . . [by Joseph Ellicott, Agent. Albany: November 25, 1800] [Albany, 1800].

Small broadside. The Buffalo Historical Society has the only known copy in the Joseph Ellicott letter book, 1814-1821. Evans 37638.

Described from partial reprint in Orsamus Turner's Pioneer history of the Holland Purchase. Buffalo, 1848, p. 424; in L.R. Doty's History of the Genesee Country. Chicago, 1925, vol. 1, p. 399; in P.D. Evans' Holland Land Company, 1924, p. 224, 299; and E.W. Vanderhoof's Historical sketches of Western New York, Buffalo, 1907, p. 49-52.

P.D. Evans, historian of the company, found the following promotion material among the company's papers in Amsterdam: a folder issued in 1792 for distribution in Europe; their New York agent Jan Lincklaen's Albany handbill, April 23, 1793, announcing the formation of a settlement at Cazenovia, N.Y.; his handbills and engraved maps for use in New England in 1798; "posters and fliers" advertising the company's lands northwest of the Alleghany River, 1797, and a most interesting item advertising their lands in Western New York, published by Albert Briois de Beaumetz, their agent in India: 900,000 acres of land offered for sale. Calcutta, 1797.

One of the New York Public Library copies of Stadnitski's Voorafgaand bericht is accompanied by five separately published annual Reports and a final Report of Stadnitski & Son, 1835-1858, the latter bringing to a close the European end of the Holland Land Company. The first five have the general heading: Opgave van den tegenwoordigen Staat der vereenigde Negotiatiën op Landen in Amerika, in den jare 1793, ten Kantare van Stadnitski & Zoon, alhier opserigt. (Report of the present state of the joint negotiation of American lands begun in 1793, at the office of Stadnitski & Son, established here). The reports are signed at Amsterdam by the principal members of the company but none of the reports has an imprint. They are as follows:

  • Report for 1835:   Refers to last previous report of 1833. [3] p., small folio.
  • Report for 1836:   Small folio broadside. Refers to previous report of 1835.
  • Report for 1840:   Refers to previous report of 1836. Small folio broadside.
  • Report for 1845:    Refers to previous report of 1840. Small folio broadside.
  • Report for 1848:   Refers to previous report of 1845. [3] p., small folio.
  • Report for 1858:   Final report. Refers to previous report of 1848. Small folio broadside.

The European records of the Holland Land Company (Hollandsche Land Compagnie) are owned by their business descendant, Van Eeghen & Co. of Amsterdam, Holland. Most of the papers of Joseph Ellicott, the local Western New York agent, not sent to the company archives in Holland are at Buffalo Historical Society, except one volume of letters at NYHS. Some of the original ledgers are still in the old land office at Batavia, now a museum, and some of the important early contracts with Robert Morris are with the Thomas Morris papers at NYHS. The papers of Jan Lincklaen are at the New York Public Library and his miniature by Peter I. Meance at NYHS. The ledgers and account books from the company's Pennsylvania land office covering the years 1795-1804 are at the Crawford County Historical Society at Meadville, Pa., with microfilm copies at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at Harrisburg.

For the history of the company see Orsamus Turner: History of the Holland Purchase, Buffalo, 1849, and a second edition with corrections and a few additions, 1850; P.D. Evans: The Holland Land Company, Buffalo, 1924 (the best account, based on the company archives in Amsterdam as well as the American sources) ; and P.J. Van Winter: Het aandeel van den Amsterdamschen handel aan den opbouw van het Amerilcaansche gemeenebest. (The part played by Amsterdam's business in the growth of the American commonwealth.) Gravenhage, 1927. 2 vols., especially vol. II, chapters 7 and 8. For the personal experiences of some of the agents of the company, see: Francis Adrian Van Der Kemp, by Helen Lincklaen Fairchild, N.Y., 1903; Journals of John Lincklaen, edited by Mrs. Fairchild, N.Y., 1897; and Harm Jan Huidekoper, by Nina Moore and Francis Tiffany, Cambridge, 1904.

Le/pour et le contre/ou/avis/à ceux qui se proposent de passer dans les Etats-Unis d'Amerique./Suivi/d'une description du Kentucky et du Genesy, deux/des nouveaux établissemens les plus considérables/de cette partie du nouveau monde./Avec un carte typométrique./Par/Louis Bridel,/Pasteur de l'eglise française à Basle./[dotted rule]/Va paresseux à la fourmi & considère son ouvrage. [Go to the ant, thou sluggard, and consider her work]/[dotted rule]/A Paris/chez Levrault, Schoell & Comp./quay Malaquay./Imprimé à Basle chez Guillaume Haas,/an XII. 1803.

[4], 162 p., folded map, consisting of title page (verso blank), [1-2]; Préface, [3-4]; text, [1]-162 p., map, described below, 8vo (18.5 x 11.5 cm.). Issued uncut in red marbled wrappers, dark red paper back. (NHi copy.) Copies located: Bib. Nat., CSmH, DLC, Franco-American Library of Hugh C. Wallace, American Embassy, Paris, 1933, NHi, NN, NRHi, PHi (Amsterdam dealer-H.F. De Puy-Rosenbach copy), University of Rochester.

Folded map at end: Carte/représentant la partie du/Genesy Country/ que la Compagnie hollandoise, ainsi/que Mrs. [sic] William et John Willink et/autres, ont acquise sur les derrieres/de l'Etat de New-York./On s'occupe dans ce moment a y envoyer/des colons, et a la mettre en culture. [Title in upper right hand corner] [in a separate box, below:] Remarque [20 lines describing the typography]/[Scale of Miles Anglaises]/[Note in lower right hand corner:] Composée avec des caracteres mobiles par G. Haas a Basle,/Membre de l'Académie des Arts mécaniques de Berlin. [Map within border of thick-thin rules.] (29.7 x 24.1 cm. within border.)

"A new invention of printing has lately been put in practice at Basil in Switzerland. It is a mode of printing maps of countries with type, in the usual manner of letter press. The types consist of an infinite variety of forms, by which the turnings and windings of roads, rivers, &c. are expressed with a very considerable degree of beauty and accuracy." (The Diary, New York, Feb. 23, 1797, p. 3, col. 1.)

This map, not engraved but set from movable type, is a great curiosity. It is a close copy of the main features of the Holland Land Company's map of 1800. "Buffalo appears as New Amsterdam; the stream is marked Buffalo River, as it had been known to the whites at least since 1764. The Seneca name is also given: 'Taseoway,' otherwise To-se-o-way or Te-hos-e-ro-ron, 'the place of the basswoods.' Other points of special interest are the designation of settlements on the Niagara from Fort Erie North; of the Delaware and Seneca villages on the Cattaraugus; of Cornplanter's mill ('moulin Abeals') on the Alleghany, and not far from it the missionary station established by the Society of Friends, approximately the Tunesassa mission school of today; also the oil spring ('source bitumineuse') in the Willink tract on the headwaters of Clean Creek." (Note by F. H. Severance in the Buffalo Historical Society English edition described below.)

Reverend Jean Louis Bridel (1759-Feb. 5, 1821) was born in Crassier, Canton of Vaud, Switzerland, the son of the parish minister. He taught in his native country and in Holland where he doubtless knew some of the members of the Holland Land Company and their American agents. He visited most of Europe but apparently never came to America, in spite of the statement in Frank Monaghan's French travellers in the United States, New York, 1933, p. 17, nos. 286-288, who says that Bridel lived almost twenty years in America. Though he read all of the best books on America and had correspondents there, he does not say that he visited the country. Monaghan was evidently confused by the first sentence of Bridel's preface which says: "After twenty years of travel [He does not say where but it was entirely in Europe] I have returned to my native land." From 1803 to 1808 he was pastor of the French church in Basle. At various times he was professor of Bible interpretation and Oriental languages at Lausanne and a member of the Grand Council of the Canton of Vaud for ten years. He was a prolific writer and a great traveller but he finally came home and, in his preface, explains how he came to write this booklet: "My broken health requires rest. I have found it in Lausanne. But I do not believe that it agrees with one who has spent his life in the study of men, of books and of nature to pass his time in total idleness. I have therefore sought some subject that would interest my countrymen and I believe I have found it. Many families have gone to America, and others propose to follow; all lack definite directions. I come today to their assistance; with this idea I have gathered all the information that I was able to find on this subject. I have formulated it in this brochure. May my countrymen receive it with the same good will that I have in addressing them." (Henry F. De Puy translation.)

Bridel quotes from at least one correspondent in Pennsylvania, from Morris' Account of the soil, Thomas Hutchins' various geographical works and Jefferson's Virginia. He evidently got his notes on American fauna from Carver's Travels and obviously his enthusiasm for the Genesee lands of the Holland Land Company came from the company itself. They had planned at first to sell their American lands in large tracts to other speculators and so make a quick profit and get out. But they failed to find the large speculators and so changed their policy to the slower scheme of selling to actual settlers. Though a good many buyers drifted in from New England and Pennsylvania, they set about it to interest European emigrants and so no doubt found an eager collaborator in the good minister of Basle who was convinced that the Genesee Country was the answer to the financial problems of his compatriots. It is therefore altogether probable that Bridel was employed by the Holland Land Company to use the enforced leisure brought on by his ill health to provide them with a fresh piece of promotion literature both in French and German in order to attract new settlers to the Genesee from warweary and politically distressed Central Europe.

Wie's halt ist, mit dem Reisen/nach/Amerika/besonders in/Kentucky und Genesy./Nach dem Französischen/des Herrn L: Bridel;/frey übersetzt/von/Christoph Winckelblech./[Thick-thin rule]/Basel,/bey Wilhelm Haas und Christoph Winckelblech/1804.

[1-5], 6-88 P., folded map, 8vo (18 cm.). DLC, NHi. Photostat copy at NN.

The German title may be translated: As it really is, with travels in America, particularly in Kentucky and Genesee. From the French of Mr. L. Bridel; freely translated by Christopher Winckelblech. Basle: William Haas and Christopher Winckelblech, 1804.

The preface is not a literal translation but a paraphrase, changed from the first to the third person, thus putting the words into the mouth of the translator. He has introduced here and there an appropriate German verse or couplet not in the original. The table of exports from Philadelphia (p. 25) covers only the year 1787 in the original French edition, but, in this edition, adds the figures for 1796. The table of distances from Fort Pitt to Lexington (p. 55-56) has Fort Pitt in the French edition but Pittsburg in the German. The latter also adds a new caption (p. 67) for the description of the Genesy. It also adds (p. 87) a table of American coinage, weights and measures and (p. 88) a note that, on the fifteenth of every month, Christopher Winckelblech, No. 102 St. Johann Street, Basle, will receive letters and small packages for transmission to America, showing that he was actively engaged, probably as a German agent of the Holland Land Company, in sending emigrants to their lands in Western New York. There are other minor variations in the German edition.

The map of the Holland company lands in Western New York is from the same setting of type as that of the French edition, which see for fuller description, but with the title, notes and geographical names in German, proving that the entire map, like that in the original French edition, was set up in movable type. The title reads:Carte/von demjenigen Theil des/Genes, Besirks/ welchen sowohl die holländ: Compagnie,/als die Herren William und John Willink/und andere, hinter Neu-York besitzen/Man ist nun beschäftiget. Pfianzer dahin/zu senden, und sas Land anzubauen. The Bemerkung in a box below is a translation of the Remarque of the French edition but somewhat abbreviated. The note in the lower right corner regarding the composition of the map from movable type is a direct translation. There are no changes in the topography of the map except for the translations of the descriptive phrases into German.

The translation of the original French text into English was made by the distinguished lawyer and collector of Americana, Henry F. De Puy, who added a few notes, others being supplied by Frank H. Severance, Librarian of the Buffalo Historical Society. The translation was made from the translator's copy: Abel Merian-De Puy (bought in 1913 from an Amsterdam dealer for $16.00)—Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach (bought for $75.00 at the De Puy sale in 1919)—Historical Society of Pennsylvania (secured in 1935). This copy is in the original blue-gray wrappers, uncut. The De Puy translation was published in the Buffalo Historical Society Publications, Vol. XVIII, 1914, p. 257-312, with a facsimile of the French title and a slightly reduced facsimile of the folded map. Twenty-five copies were reprinted from the type of the Publications for the translator as follows:

"Le Pour et le Contre"/From the French of/Pastor Louis Bridel/By/ H.F. Du [sic De] Puy/From volume XVIII/Publications of the/Buffalo Historical Society/Buffalo, N.Y./1914 [Title within box on gray front cover]

[1-2], 3-56 p. folded map, consisting of half title (verso containing Note of the editor signed F.H.S.), [1-2], facsimile original French title (verso containing Introductory note of the translator), 3-4; text, 5-55; note on the map by F.H. Severance, 56; facsimile of original French map (24.5 x 9 cm.). 8vo (23 x 16 cm.), gray wrappers with cover title, top and bottom edges cut, fore edges uncut. 25 copies printed. DLC, NBuHi, N, NN.

English title from editor's note : The pros and cons, or advice for those who intend to go to the United States of America: Followed by a description of Kentucky and Genesee, two of the most important new settlements of this part of the new world. With a typometric map. By Louis Bridelpastor of the French Church at Basle. [Motto :]Go to the ant, thou sluggard, and consider her workParis: Levrault, Schoell & Co., Quay Malaquay, Printed at Basle by William Haas, Year XII [calendar of the Revolution], 1803.

English title of the map from editor's note: Map showing part of the Genesee Country which the Holland Company, along with Messrs. William and John Willink, and others, have purchased in the back part of New York State. They are now sending settlers there, and putting it under cultivation.

The following work was largely copied, without proper credit, from the original French edition of Bridel.

Voyage/au Kentoukey,/et sure les bords du Genesée,/précédé de conseils/aux libéraux,/et à tous ceux qui se proposent de passer aux Etats-Unis./Par M * * * * * * *./[rule]/O sua si bona norint! [Oh if only your dreams could come true !]/Virg./[rule]/Ouvrage accompagné d'une Carte Géographique, levée/sur les lieux par l'auteur,/en 1820./[rule]/Paris,/M. Sollier, Editeur, rue Beujolais, n° 7,/Palais-Royal;/Germain-Mathiot, Libraire, due du Cimetière/Saint-André-des-Arts, nº 4./7bre 1821 ./[Imprint at foot of last page:] Imprimerie de P. Gueffier, rue Guénégaud, n° 31.

[4], 243, Table [1] p., folded map, 8° (21.5 cm.) The late L.C. Harper owned a copy in 1928 in original wrappers, uncut. The NHi copy is in original boards. Sabin 42898 and under title. Copies: DLC, MB, MH, MIU-C, N, NHi, NN, WHi, British Museum.

Folded map in front: Carle/de la partie du/Genesée,/ou l'on envoie des habitans/pour le mettre en culture./ [French rule]/Lat. 42 Nord ./Milles anglais./ [Scale of miles]/[Signed below map, lower left:] Gravée par G. LemaitreRue des Fossés St Victor, Nº 32. [in centre:] M*******. del. [and at right:] Mme Vve Lamothe scripsit. (30.5 x 23 cm.). Map of the Holland Land Company Purchase in Western New York, copied from map in Bridel: Le pour et le contre, Paris, 1803, showing territory from Lake Ontario south to Pennsylvania and from lakes Erie and Ontario east to Genesee River, including roads, forts, towns, including New Amsterdam [Buffalo] and Batavia.

This strange work, put together with scissors and paste by an unidentified Parisian hack writer, may have been issued to promote the sale of Holland Land Company lands since it is largely copied from Bridel which was obviously published for that purpose. Of its 243 pages, about 137 are copied or paraphrased from Bridel (which see, above); about forty-six pages from the account of Daniel Boone in Filson's Kentucky, the French edition, Paris, 1785; about nine pages from an unidentified work of Voltaire published in 1764 and about forty-five pages, including the introductory chapter, a few connecting passages and most of the last eleven pages, by the "author" who claims that he lived in the Genesee Country for seven months as a "Canon of the old regime," whatever that means. He also says that he was long a resident of the United States whereas it is obvious, from his lack of knowledge of the country, that he was never here in his life. With his strange and romantic ideas of liberty, equality, fraternity and the simple life in the wilds of America, he addresses his readers in spirited fashion as Citoyens du Globe, Citoyens émigrans, Freres, and Libéraux, and harangues them on the joys of emigration. He even proposes a constitution, based on that of France for his ideal American frontier republic and lists his choice of more or less distinguished French officials for its more important offices and finally nominates fifteen famous Frenchmen for the National Institute of his new American nation, modestly including himself.

Various attempts have been made to identify M* * * * * * , the "author." One which has plagued bibliographers appeared in the catalogue of the Americana sale of O.H. Marshall of Buffalo, 24 where a copy of this work was entered under: [Lamothe, Mme. V.) (?)], the supposed author, simply because her name was signed thus on the map: Mme Vve Lamothe, scripsit or, in other words, Drawn by the Widow Lamothe, who obviously did not have the given initial V and did not write the book but merely copied the map from the Bridel volume.

In Wright Howes' U.S.-iana, 1954, no. 6659, this work is entered under [Maréchal, Pierre S.] This atheistic and erotic hack writer was born August 25, 1750, and died January 18, 1803, probably before the book by Bridel was published later that year. If Maréchal were the author of the Voyage, it would have made it impossible to use Bridel as a source and how could he have drawn the map in 1820 if he died in 1803? But if it had been written in 1803, why did the manuscript remain unpublished until 1821? Howes mentions an edition of theVoyage printed in 1820 of which no copy is known. (There is no evidence that it ever appeared.) This he calls "mildly rare" as well as the edition of 1821 which he calls "scarce" though we can locate at least ten copies.

Of course most of the Voyage was lifted from Bridel's le pour et le contre and that may have accounted for Howes' dubious attribution to Maréchal for the strange reason that the title page states that the Voyage is by M* * * * * * * while another book signed Sylvain * * * and entitled: Le pour et le contre de la Bible, was written by Pierre Sylvain Maréchal. But the Pros and cons of the Bible are certainly not the same as the Pros and cons of Kentucky and the Genesee Country, though Howes seems to think that they must be children of the same father.

Another strange coincidence is that Maréchal died in January, 1803, early in the year Bridel's book was published and Bridel died in February, 1821, the year the Voyage appeared. Perhaps the hack writer in Paris waited until Bridel was dead before he dared to steal his book. But he did have the grace to refer, on p. 41, to "M. Bridel, respected pastor, whose narrative has been very useful to me, . . ." a prize understatement for the theft of all but twenty-five pages of a 162-page book.

On the title page the "author" says that his work is "accompanied by a geographical map drawn on the spot by the author in 1820." But he evidently forgot that he had quoted Bridel in the text, p. 204, as saying that: "They [the Holland Land Company] published a geographical map. It is this that we have placed at the end [theVoyage says at the beginning] of our volume." This is a fairly good copy of the Bridel map of 1803 which is a close copy of the main features of the Holland Purchase map of 1800. The map in the Voyage which was supposed to have been made on the spot gives itself away since none of its geographical information is later than 1800. For instance, Buffalo still has its earlier name of New Amsterdam and Rochester, founded in 1812 and a thriving village of 1500 in 1820, does not appear on the map at all.

So the Voyage au Kentouckey et sur les bords du Genesée was one tour never taken by the hack writer who probably clipped, rewrote and pasted it together, with an assist from Bridel (who was probably never there either), Voltaire and Filson (who certainly was), as he dreamed in his Parisian garret of the simple life of the American frontier.



  1. Full name used in U.S. Territorial Papers, for which see note 23. In the Account of [Robert Morris']property [Phil.? 1831?], p. 6, there is an Account payable which Morris owed the estate of Benedict Van Pradelles amounting to £158/5/-.
  2. Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes and pseudonymes. By A. A. Barbier, Paris, 1879, vol. 4, p. 134-135. Cites a manuscript note, perhaps written in a copy of the book. This is the sole definite authority for Van Pradelles' country of origin, military rank and authorship (or translation) of the book, though the fact that he had explored the Genesee Country in the 1780's and lived in Philadelphia in the 1790's where he knew Robert Morris and probably William Temple Franklin, seems to strengthen the attribution.
  3. Based on the facts that he came to America about 1780 after having become an infantry captain in Europe, that his twins were born in 1806 and he died in 1808.
  4. See note 2.
  5. Van Pradelles says in the Réflections, p. [iii], that, in 1792, he had been in the United States most of the time for more than a dozen years.
  6. Van Pradelles to Gallatin, Sept. 27, 1790, at NYHS.
  7. See note 2. Also letter Van Pradelles to Gallatin, Feb. 13, 1806, at NYHS.
  8. See note 6. Also, Morris sends Gallatin a letter by Van Pradelles and employed him to write or translate the Réflections in 1792 and perhaps to perform other services for which he was never paid, for which see Accounts, note 1.
  9.  For Gallatin's friendship with Van Pradelles, see notes 1, 6, 14.
  10. See note 6.
  11. See Réflections, Preface and p. 36.
  12. See note 6.
  13. Van Pradelles, Baltimore, in list of subscribers to Oliver Evans' Young millwright and miller's guide. Phil., 1795.
  14. Van Pradelles to Gallatin, Jan. 9, 16, Feb. 5, 13, Aug. 9, 1806, at NYHS.
  15.  Annuaire Louisianais, 1808, p. 153. Official letterbook of W. C. C. Claiborne, 1801-1816, Vol. III, 1917, p. 325.
  16.  Same as above, Vol. IV, 1917, p. 34, quoting letter, Nov. 29, 1806, from Governor Claiborne's secretary sending Van Pradelles his commission as Notary Public but addressing the letter in error to "B. F. Van Pradelles."
  17.  Annuaire Louisianais, 1808, p. 169.
  18.  Official letter bookes of W.C.C. Claiborne, 1801-1816, Vol. IV, 1917, p. 217, Sept. 17, 1808 mention "Mr. Van Pradelles, the Register," same, p. 272, Dec. 16, 1808, and p. 273, Dec. 14, 1808, mention the death of Mr. Van Pradelles.,
  19.  See note 15, second reference.
  20.  See preface to Réflections.
  21. Opinion of Henry Stevens, the famous American rare book seller located in London, as quoted by Max Farrand in the introduction to his edition of Benjamin Franklin's Memoirs, 1949, p. xxiv.
  22.  Max Farrand's opinion after having studied William, Temple Franklin's introduction and notes of his edition of his grandfather's Autobiography, in the above, p. xxxiii.
  23. U.S. Department of State. Territorial Papers of the United States. Edited by Clarence E.Carter. IX, 1940. Contains 20 references to Benedict Van Pradelles.
  24. At American Art Galleries, March 16, 1914, lot 553, copy in half morocco, joints rubbed, which brought $77.50. It was described as very scarce which was fair enough since no other copy appears in the American book auction records.