Friday, June 5, 2009

Tennessee State Historian, Walter Durham, Reviews our Atlas

Founding of the Cumberland Settlements, The First Atlas 1779-1804, Showing Who Came, How They Came, and Where They Put Down Roots is a piercing, almost breathtaking look at the Cumberland Country. This remarkable book and the accompanying disc that contains plats and descriptions of 1,500 North Carolina land grants represent an incredibly detailed study of its type. Doug Drake, Jack Masters, and Bill Puryear have produced an Atlas, but it is also an easy to read narrative history, a biographical sketch book, a trails and roads study, and an archive. It is a dossier of North Carolina land grants and a series of maps, cross referenced so that land grants, forts, stations, towns and cities, and even the residences of the settlers can be located. Its graphs and tables can lead one to elusive and at times unremarked history. It is majestically and copiously illustrated by David Wright and co-author Puryear. The combined, non-redundant indexes of the book and disc have a total of 18,000 entries.

The authors beautifully answer the question they posited: Who Came, How They Came, and Where They Put Down Roots. This is a valuable resource for anyone interested in early Tennessee and western history. It will surely be on the shelves of public libraries and universities in Tennessee and beyond. It is a special treasure for all of us who live in the Cumberland country.

--Walter T. Durham, State Historian