The Walker Party, The Revised Story Mapped with Ortelius

For over 150 years the accepted story about the Walker party’s 1861-1863 expedition through the Southwest was based on a handwritten manuscript by D. E. Conner, a member and assumed historian of the party. The manuscript was published posthumously in 1956 as Joseph Reddeford Walker and the Arizona Adventure. Long thought to be based on notes taken while underway, detailed research reveals that much of what Conner wrote was based on embellished writing and a generous dose of hindsight bias using observations written by others who were in the Southwest before the Walker party.

The Walker Party, The Revised Story is a fresh look at the party’s formation in California and route into New Mexico Territory, and an analysis of the adventures of these rugged men, including their:

• Flight from advancing Confederate troops in New Mexico Territory;
• Return to Santa Fe once the territorial capital was back under Union control;
• Obtaining passports to travel in the territory;
• Encounters with Apaches along the Rio Grande;
• Stops at forts Craig, McLane, and West;
• Questionable involvement in the capture and death of Apache chief Mangas Coloradas;
• Prospecting for reported “sands freighted with gold” near the headwaters of the Gila River;
• Passage by San Xavier del Bac and through Tucson;
• Approach to and encampment at Maricopa Wells among the Pimas and Maricopas; and
• Route to and up the Hassayampa River and discovery of gold in central Arizona Territory.

Why is “The Revised Story” an important book? Joseph Reddeford Walker and the Arizona Adventure by D. E. Conner is long out of print and largely unavailable, even at the finest libraries. However, assumed facts from Conner’s book have been widely quoted in many histories about the 1860s Southwest. These quotes have not always been consistent with what Conner wrote, aside from questioning whether Conner was right in the first place. Certain key episodes that Conner wrote about, particularly the capture of Apache chief Mangas Coloradas and the details of the Walker party’s ascent of what would become the Hassayampa River, both of which Conner seemingly made up to a large extent, have been perpetuated in the works of some highly acclaimed historians.

The Walker Party, The Revised Story is an important book because it is transformative. It sets the records straight and corrects widely used incorrect details.

“The book represents seven years of research and writing,” Pieter kindly remarks about our software, “Ortelius, the interpretation that it provides to my story, is part of the reason that I persisted.”

Book format: A quality paperback, 274 pages with a comfortable font size, 14 custom maps made with Ortelius software with detailed captions, an extensive bibliography, and an image of a mid-1800s painting spread across the front and back covers illustrating the period view north from the Pima-Maricopa villages, the view that the men of the Walker party would have seen in 1863.

Pieter Burggraaf retired as a writer in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Pete has lived in Arizona most of his life and is a graduate of the University of Arizona. An avocational historian, he researches, writes and occasionally teaches about people whose lives and adventures touched historic Maricopa Wells and the Pima and Maricopa villages, at the confluence of the Salt and Gila rivers, a location he calls “The Junction of American Southwestern History.”

See more examples of this project in the Ortelius Users’ Showcase.

Ortelius Users' Showcase

Somewhere an alarm blares and firefighters quickly put on their gear and jump onto a fire engine to rush to the scene of a blaze. In the front cab, a captain uses the radio and fumbles through a more than 100-page binder of addresses to find the exact location of the call.

In a job where one or two minutes can mean the difference between someone living or dying, Cathedral City, CA, Fire Engineer Terry Martin has found a way to shave a few more precious seconds off response times in his city, using maps made in Ortelius and viewed on iPads.

“Before, when we would get a call, we would have to pull out a map (using old-fashioned binders) and navigate to a grid number and then look for a specific address,” he said. “The addresses are so small in the book that bouncing down the road at 2 a.m. and trying to pick out a number or street name when you are half asleep was kind of difficult. Plus, turning on the lights in the cab would make it very difficult to see.”

So Martin customized some iPads they had for his department. He used fire-resistant material that firefighters use for their coats and made a cover for the iPads so that they can resist the desert heat, dust and/or any other danger they may encounter in the front seat of the fire engine. He took all the information from the three-ring binders and combined them into easy to use digital maps. Using Ortelius, Martin built the maps then exported them to PDF so they would be zoomable without loss of resolution. He uses ”PDF Pro” for iPad as the viewing app. The maps, which can be scrolled through with a touch of a few fingers, include hydrant locations, housing-complex layouts and other critical information firefighters need. “We can add whatever we want to these maps, from trash shoots to exit points,” he noted.

Now, the devices are being used in every paramedic truck, fire engine and chief’s vehicle that the Cathedral City Fire Department has in service. Cathedral City Fire Chief Robert Van Nortrick said the digital mapping lets his firefighters find addresses faster and the devices are much easier to use than the bulky binders of the past.

Martin, a 24-year veteran on the job, was twice honored as the Cathedral City Fire Department “Firefighter of the Year” at the 17th and 18th annual Peace Officer and Public Safety Awards in Palm Desert.

See more examples of this project in the Ortelius Users’ Showcase.

Knowing Where You’re Going: New York City

In this newly published New York City guidebook, author James Schmitt used Ortelius to create dozens of color-keyed maps. James’ intimate knowledge of Manhattan is apparent as soon as you look at the beautifully rendered maps. Streets where restaurants or retail stores can be found are colorfully highlighted, making it easy to plan either a shopping or dining excursion in whichever part of the city you’re exploring. Neighborhood attractions, points of interest, parking, and mass transportation options are all clearly designated.

The maps in “Knowing Where You’re Going: New York City” were created using Ortelius Cartography software. “This project took quite a few years to produce, and I’ll never forget the day early on when my husband Jim discovered Ortelius by doing a search for cartography software online,” said Donna Schmitt about using Ortelius. “He was so thrilled to find it, and it made the process so much easier and the end-result so much more professional than anything he could have done by hand.”

By James C. Schmitt, now Available on

Rhonda’s Centro Histórico Guide & Street Map of San Miguel de Allende

Finally, a different kind of map! Enhance your experience in San Miguel de Allende with this very usable, high-quality, fully-detailed street map and Centro Histórico Guide. Cartographer Rhonda Lerner uses Ortelius to create a map that is packed with information, is well-organized, and easy to access.

It was 800 hours of computer time for the entire creation, plus untold hours spent walking up and down each street in the downtown collecting business cards to include their shop/restaurant, etc. in the guide. “One Sunday we traveled for two hours in our golf cart throughout Colonia San Antonio to record the one-way streets. Lots of one-way arrows there!,” says Rhonda about the map.

Do you want to know where to go eat, visit, shop and explore while in San Miguel? The guide features more than 295 listings for Bakeries, Bars & Dancing, Cafés, Cooking, Culture, Dining, Galleries, Liquor & Deli, Organic, Outdoors, Schools, Shipping & Mailing Services, Shopping, Street Food, Theater, Transportation and Wellness, Spa & Beauty. ATM and currency exchange locations are quickly found. Want to save some pesos? Find out where to buy the VIP San Miguel Restaurant Club Card. The street map features 72 Colonias and Barrios defined by color, one-way street arrows, pedestrians-only zones, hospitals, rivers, parks, bridges, highways, UNESCO World Heritage & Centro Histórico boundaries. All maps are drawn to scale.

Visit Rhonda’s Map to view more images and order this wonderful online (available on high-quality coated paper and digitally on the Avenza PDF Map Store).