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 Gwinn Harris Heap  (1817 - 1887)

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Lived/Active: Pennsylvania/District Of Columbia / Turkey      Known for: survey artist, illustrator, topography

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A topographical artist, writer, diplomat and expedition-survey artist, Gwinn Heap was born in Chester, Pennsylvania March 32, 1817. His father, Samuel Davies Heap, was U.S. Consul to Tunis for thirty years, and from 1867 to 1878, Gwinn Heap served in that same position.

Among the accomplishments of Gwinn Heap was the designing of the thirteen illustrations for the 1854 published journal of the expedition he did with naval lieutenant Edward F Beale from Missouri to California in 1853. Titled "Central Route to the Pacific, from the Valley of the Mississippi to California", it was lithographed by Peter Duval of Philadelphia.

This survey party of ten men took 100 days and was the "pioneering railway survey along the 38th parallel from Westport, Missouri to Los Angeles. . . . and was along the Old Santa Fe Trail then through southern Colorado, southern Utah, the Mohave Desert and Cajon Pass through the Sierras." (Samuels 214). At one point, Heap detoured 350 miles to Taos, New Mexico for supplies because the party had lost many supplies in the Colorado River, and they had had trouble with the Ute Indians because of not having goods for trading.

In 1846, Gwinn Heap had become a government clerk, and in 1853, he was placed in charge of the pilots of Admiral Porter's squadron on the Mississippi River. In 1855-57 he was sent by Jefferson Davis of the War Department to Tunis to purchase camels for thirty-thousand dollars for military purposes. Because of his father having served in Tunis, Heap knew about camels, Arabs and could speak the language, and his artistic skills served him well as he provided fifteen sketches of camels for the official report. In 1856, Heap bought thirty-three camels in Smyrna, and they were sent to the United States on a three-month trip on board the "Supply", a Navy vessel. Heap then returned to Asia Minor and secured another forty-one camels in February 1857.

On his return he became a clerk in the the Department of the Navy, and at the beginning of the Civil War, volunteered in the U.S. Secret Services.

In 1866 he was appointed U.S. Consul to Belfast, Ireland; was Consul at Tunis, 1867-78; and Secretary of Legation and Consul-General at Constantinople, 1878-87.

Gwinn Heap died in Constantinople, Turkey, March 6, 1887. He and his wife, Cora Porter, had one son, David Porter Heap who was civil engineer, author and the author of "History of Application of Electric Light in the Courts of France.

Peggy and Harold Samuels, "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American West"
Heard Franklin Fiske, "The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Vol. V,H
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"

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Gwinn Heap is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Taos Pre 1940

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