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A. R. Roessler's Latest Map of the State of Texas: Roessler, 1874

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  • Title: A. R. Roessler's Latest Map of the State of Texas
  • Author: Anton Roessler
  • Date: 1874
  • Condition: See description 
  • Inches: 42 1/4 x 37 1/2 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 107.31 x 92.25 [Image]
  • Product ID: 308273

The Finest Post Reconstruction Map of Texas

Highly desirable and historically important folding pocket lithographed map, dividing Texas into 148 existing counties plus unincorporated territory.  A note at the bottom center provides the area of Texas as 268,684 square miles, of which 196,299 are Organized, and 72,385 remain Territory.  Arguably the finest map of the period, showing post Reconstruction Texas at an incredible level of detail.  Thousands of keyed symbols span Texas, identifying dozens of attributes; 22 types of minerals, 8  types of tree cover, completed and planned railroads, county seats, towns, post offices, and of course the state capital in Austin. The map identifies roads, streams, rivers, mountains, location of Indian tribes in Indian Territory, and public lands, with remarks on topography, and notes on treaty cessions.

The note below the title provides AUTHORITIES: Official Maps Of the U.S. & Texas State General Land Offices, Surveys & Reconnoissances (sic) of the U.S. Coast Survey, the various Rail Road Surveys, U.S Mexican Boundary Commission Surveys U.S. Engineer Dept and other authentic Materials.

Inset showing the General Land Office at Austin at lower left, below a label proclaiming PRINCIPAL DEPOT AT THE PUBLICATION OFFICE 83 Nassau St.  NEW YORK. 

Remark on GEOLOGY:  The lower and rolling Lands are alluvial and tertiary.  The hilly region is cretaceous.  Primitive Rocks appear in many places.  The great Plains consist of stratified Clay & Cretaceous Marls.  On the Verge of these plains are Deposits of Gypsum extending over an Area of thousands of Square Miles.  Coal beds of carboniferous age exist in the North West; Iron Ores in the inex-haustible Quantities on Llano & Colorado Rivers and Tributaries of Red River; Silverlead and Copperglance in the North West, Salt at Salt Springs and by natural evaporation on the Lakes.

A tantalizing reference to Mineral Asphalt portends the great age of oil and the untold wealth Texas would produce in the years to follow.

Inset MAP Showing AGRICULTURAL Districts and Varieties of Soils in the STATE OF TEXAS at lower left.  This inset map depicts the state as divided by agricultural districts and eight soil varieties.  Throughout much of south-central Texas, Roessler notes that the soil is especially adapted for the raising of cereals while much of the state's eastern lands possess Rich Sandy soil healthy timbered and easy of Cultivation.  Scattered throughout the state areas of Black tenacious Clay slightly mixed with Vegetable Mould commonly called Hogswallow… are identified.  A significant portion of New Mexico is depicted in topographic detail.

Taliaferro writes, "Roessler's maps are the only printed maps that preserve the results of the Shumard survey, the state's first geological and agricultural survey."

Background on Creator

Anton R. Roessler (c. 1833–1893) was an Austro-Hungarian-American cartographer and geologist. Roessler was reportedly born in Raab in the Kingdom of Hungary, which was part of the Austrian Empire and is now Győr in today's Hungary.   One source stated he was born in the nearby village of Bőős. Not much else is known concerning his early life. Conflicting accounts also exist regarding his date of birth. The 1880 United States census from Travis County, Texas, states that he was born in Hungary around 1833.  He is rumored to have received cartographic training in Vienna, as he possessed considerable skill in the craft.  Serious academic research has failed to shed additional light on the circumstances of Roessler’s birth, early years, or European training.

Despite the popularity of his maps, Roessler gained a reputation throughout his career as a "questionable figure in the field of American geology." He was accused of plagiarism, thievery, and failing to contribute any original conclusions of note to the field. Regardless, his maps are the best record of Texas' agricultural and mineral wealth in the late 19th century, and contemporary sources lionized his cartographic contributions to the mapping of Texas.

Shumard Survey

Roessler produced the only existing maps from the Shumard Survey of Texas. Roessler worked as an assistant and draftsman in the first state Geological and Agricultural Survey of Texas, the "Shumard Survey", conducted by the chief geologist of the state, Benjamin Franklin Shumard. His maps, including his small-scale maps of geological regions in the state, are often considered his greatest works. He is also often regarded as one of the best geologists in Texas during the 19th century.

Roessler himself claimed to have made personal observations on the minerals of Texas as early as 1857.  He first definitively appears in Texas records in November or December 1858, as an assistant, draftsman, and topographer with the first state Geological and Agricultural Survey of Texas under Benjamin Franklin Shumard, the state's chief geologist. Shumard was born in 1820 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. By 1846, his interests had shifted from medicine to geology, which would take him to Texas in 1858.  Writing in 1887, future Texas state geologist Robert T. Hill commented on the qualifications of Shumard's survey members and noted that "Mr. Roessler, although a young man, possessed a good scientific education, [and] was a hard worker...and to him is due much of the accurate topographic knowledge of the State we possess at the present day."

Shumard divided his geologic corps into field parties, and they began their field work in January 1859, examining numerous counties in eastern and central Texas. According to Shumard, they carefully examined strata at outcrops along the routes traveled and determined, as precisely as possible, their geological characteristics. They also frequently took barometric readings and recorded topographical features.  They noted the presence of timber, water, minerals, fossils, soil characteristics, and collected specimens and samples for further examination. Shumard and his staff also began preparing county maps to show geological, topographical, and cultural features.  Shumard reported that the mapmaking was difficult because the maps in the state's General Land Office in Austin were more or less imperfect and the surveys in some instance exceedingly erroneous. They made herculean efforts to remedy these problems with their maps.

After Shumard was removed for political reasons in 1860, Roessler and other members of the survey staff continued working in the survey offices in the state capitol in Austin under the newly appointed state geologist Francis B. Moore. The Shumard Survey officially ended with the publication of a document chronicling its work in 1867.

A Spy Amongst Us?

At the beginning of the American Civil War, Roessler was still working as draftsman for the state's Geological and Agricultural Survey in Austin, Texas.  After the survey was disbanded in 1862 and the state's geological survey rooms were turned into a percussion cap factory, Roessler remained in Austin to serve the Confederacy as the chief draftsman at the Texas State Military Board's arsenal.  By February 1865, however, Roessler was in Louisiana providing Union Army authorities with information about Texas' geography, strategic resources, road conditions, and Confederate defenses.   He helped compile a map of Texas in New Orleans for the Engineer's Office of the Military Department of the Gulf that soon appeared in April of that year. This map was reportedly used by General George Armstrong Custer and others during their occupation of Texas to implement Reconstruction policies following the war. As many Texas Geological and Agricultural Survey records were believed lost or destroyed during the Civil War and the remainder were destroyed by a fire at the Texas State Capitol in 1881, there has been speculation that Roessler himself may have taken maps from the state.

Post-Civil War

During the late 1860s, Roessler worked as a geologist at the United States Land Office in Washington, D.C. He returned to Austin during the administration of Republican governor Edmund J. Davis.  Roessler participated in a mining engineering expedition with the Texas Land and Copper Association in 1872, which proceeded from Grayson County westward to Haskell County. It explored areas around the Wichita River, the Little Wichita River, the Double Mountains, and the headwaters of the Brazos River.  Roessler was both injured and ill for portions of the expedition.  In 1873, Oscar Loew and Roessler co-wrote a German-language article titled Erforschung des Nordwest-Theiles von Texas im Jahre 1872 ("Exploration of the Northwest Portion of Texas in 1872") in Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen.  Also, during the 1870s, Roessler created the epic map of Texas on offer here, and 16 maps of Texas counties.  He published the Texas map in New York City with the assistance of C. V. Mittendorfer.  During this period of his career he also served as secretary of the Texas Land and Immigration Company of New York.

With the exception of brief periods spent in New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, D.C., Roessler spent most of the late 19th century living in Austin, Texas.  He died in 1893.


In his thesis on The Present Condition of Knowledge of the Geology of Texas, published in the Bulletin of the United States Geological Survey no. 45 in 1881, future Texas state geologist Robert T. Hill wrote that "...to him [Roessler] is due much of the accurate topographic knowledge of the State we possess at the present day".  In the estimation of Keith Young, Roessler's maps are some of the earliest extant example of the small-scale geologic mapping of large areas of Texas.  Also according to Young, Roessler's work remains the only existing maps from the First Geological and Agricultural Survey of Texas (the Shumard Survey).   Copies of maps by Roessler are held in the collections of the United States Geological Survey Library, Baylor University,  and the University of Texas at Austin.  Echoing Young's view, the 1986-87 Texas Almanac called Roessler perhaps the most competent geologist of the period, noting that he drew some of the first small-scale maps of Texas' geological regions.  According to the Royal Society Catalogue, he wrote six geological papers, but according to Samuel Wood Geiser, "his best work was in making maps of Texas".


Lightly toned, scattered staining, backed with tissue to close separations at folds. Spine expanded to accommodate new backing. Housed in its original duodecimo dark green blindstamped cloth covers slightly worn with discoloration to the lower right corner of the back board.


Inscription on the verso reads, * *#111 / Map of Texas in 1874, Presented by Dr. J. Meyenberg / La Grange, Tex."


Day, p. 90; Phillips, America, p. 847; Taliaferro 349. 

Background on creator from original research by Ben Huseman, retired cartographic archivist of UT Arlington Special Collections.  Posted by Huseman to Wikipedia and used with permission.