1753 – A MAP of the most INHABITED part of VIRGINIA


Map courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The Map Makers

  • Peter Jefferson (1708 –1757)

    was a plantation owner, cartographer, surveyor and sheriff, and served two years in the Virginia House of Burgesses. He and his family eventually settled in Albermarle County, where he acquired more than 7,000 acres of land. Aside from his map-making achievements, he is best known as the father of the Nation’s third president, Thomas Jefferson.

  • Joshua Fry (1699–1754)

    was born in England and emigrated to Virginia about 1726. Educated at Oxford University, he taught mathematics and natural philosophy at the College of William and Mary. He later became a plantation owner, then a real estate investor, surveyor, and local official, serving in the House of Burgesses. Early in the French and Indian War, Fry was named the Commander-in-Chief of Colonial forces, and given orders to capture Fort Duquesne. During the advance into

    the Ohio Country, Fry fell off his horse and died from his injuries. A young Virginia officer, George Washington , succeeded Fry in command of the regiment.

The Map

As the Virginia Colony expanded westward in the mid-1700s, a map of the territory was needed because the French also laid claim to the Ohio Valley. The Virginia Governor commissioned Peter Jefferson and Joshua Fry, experienced surveyors who had earlier surveyed the lands of Lord Fairfax, to prepare such a map. Jefferson and Fry relied on their own surveys and experiences to supplement existing published maps, manuscript maps, and field notes. They created a detailed rendering of the waterways, mountains, counties, settlements, and prominent plantations in the colony. Thomas Jefferys, a prolific publisher and engraver, and geographer to the Prince of Wales, engraved the map, which was published in 1753.

The Jefferson-Fry Map became the definitive map of Virginia in the 18th Century. The map showed the route of “The Great Road from the Yadkin River through Virginia to Philadelphia distant 455 Miles”—what would later come to be known as the Great Wagon Road, as well as the Philadelphia Waggon Road that ran through Shepherdstown.