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Galveston County: Armstrong, 1939

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  • Title: Galveston County
  • Author: Eltea Armstrong 
  • Date: 1939
  • Condition: See description 
  • Inches: 55 x 43 3/4 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 139.7 x 111.12 [Image]
  • Product ID: 308274

Unrecorded Cadastral Map of Galveston County

Colored linen map of Galveston County, of the utmost rarity.   With scrupulous property line detail color coded to a legend identifying source documents; among them GLO notes calling for natural monuments (creeks, rivers, etc.), county surveyor records from both Brazoria and Galveston counties, and notes from “Austins Colony”.  The map’s listed property owners form a veritable “who’s who” of early Texian history including Stephen F. Austin, Mary Austin, Asa Brigham, the German Emigration Company,  and among the largest landowners, Juan Seguin, owner of much of the land upon which present day Galveston is situated.  Copious manuscript notes litter the map with references dating as far back as the earliest Austin colony surveys.

Typical county maps of this era required an immense and intense level of focus.  The foundation of each map involved reviewing the original field notes for every survey within a county, as well as every related sketch and connecting line and any relevant court judgements relating to original survey boundaries.  The effort demanded months-long taking of field notes, sketching, scaling, and drawing by hand.  Only after this work was completed would the draftsperson meticulously draw, ink, and letter every discrete survey to scale in order to create the complete, functional map.

The map is a truly remarkable testament to the history of Galveston County, the painstaking work of the Texas General Land Office, and Eltea Armstrong herself.


Of the utmost rarity, not in OCLC, one recorded sale (our purchase).

Background on Creator

One of the most prolific Texas cartographers of the of her era,  Eltea Armstrong is hailed is the Texas General Land Office’s finest draftsperson of the twentieth century, having completed 70 county maps across her 37-year career.  Born in Dale, Texas on October 23, 1907, Armstrong joined the State Reclamation Department and quickly began working on special projects in 1935. In 1939, the department was absorbed by the General Land Office and Armstrong was tasked with drawing new county maps.  Armstrong drafted each map with meticulous dedication.   Astonishingly, during her time it was estimated that a single GLO county map took as much as 900 working hours to complete.

Eltea’s work also showcased her extreme attention to detail with lettering.  All of Eltea’s maps feature impeccable lettering within each individual survey on the map. She took great pains to exercise uniformity of font size and alignment of lettering, contributing to the distinctive balance and “cleanness” of all of her maps. She was also a skilled calligrapher, as title blocks and names of surrounding counties also were meticulously crafted. Her abilities on this front are on par with any draftsman who plied their trade at the GLO during any era.

All 70 of her county maps are still in use as the official, working GLO county map, and any survey edits are made on her original manuscripts that are housed in the GLO map vault.

After retiring from state service in 1972, Eltea continued to indulge her artistic talents by drawing scrolls and lettering certificates for friends and acquaintances, a hobby she exercised during her tenure at the GLO. Over her lifetime she ended up making scrolls for many dignitaries, such as President Camacho of Mexico, Governor Price Daniel of Texas, former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Sadler and even monarchs of foreign states like the Shah of Iran and the King and Queen of Greece.

Eltea Armstrong died in Austin on September 2, 1996, at the age of eighty-eight, and is buried in her native Caldwell County. Her legacy as one of the General Land Office’s most talented draftspersons lives on in the GLO map archive forever and serves as proof that she was as capable as, if not superior to, any of her male counterparts.


Lightly worn along folds and lightly toned. Some small separations to folds. Some staining, not affecting the map itself.  Some spotting and toning to verso. Linen is frayed at the edges.


Bascom Giles, Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, 1938–1940, pp. 10–11, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

Bascom Giles, Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, 1942–1944, pp. 21–22, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

Your ERS Connection, newsletter, Vol. 3 №1 (Fall 1996), Vertical Files: “VF-GLO-Staff-Draftsmen-Armstrong, Eltea,” Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

Additional Sources: Ancestry.com; Findagrave.com