1954 Texas General Land Office and Eltea Armstrong Map of Texas

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1954 Texas General Land Office and Eltea Armstrong Map of Texas


Veterans Land Board Scandal.


  1954 (dated)     32.75 x 34.75 in (83.185 x 88.265 cm)     1 : 1520640


This is a 1954 Texas General Land Office and Eltea Armstrong map of Texas. The map features a portrait of Bascom Giles at the height of his power as head of the Texas Land Office, and just months before his fall in the Veterans Land Board Scandal. Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Abilene, Houston, and San Antonio, are emphasized by 'street grids' relating their relative size. Green areas highlight national forests and Big Bend National Park. Mountains in West Texas are illustrated pictorially. State parks and forests are indicated by green pine trees.
Bascom Giles and The Veterans Land Board Scandal
This map was published in 1954, likely months before the Veterans Land Board Scandal broke in November. Bascom Giles (the Texas General Land Office Commissioner) and several other members of the GLO used their influence to convince mostly illiterate veterans to apply to buy land under the Veterans Land Act. Giles, other GLO officers, and their businessmen associates would then pocket the money. Many of the veterans who purchased land were not even aware of the fact. The fraud spread to nine counties in south Texas. Bascom Giles (the Texas General Land Office Commissioner) and several other members of the GLO were charged with fraud and conspiracy to defraud veterans. Giles served three years in the Texas State Penitentiary and holds the distinction of being the first state elected official to go to prison for crimes committed while in office.
Publication History and Census
This map was created by Eltea Armstrong and published by the Texas General Land Office in 1954 during the tenure of Bascom Giles as commissioner. We note seven examples cataloged in OCLC which are part of the collections at Yale University, the University of Texas at Arlington, Baylor University, the Austin Public Library, Hardin-Simmons University, the University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of Arizona. An example is also part of the map collection of the Texas General Land Office. The map never attained wide circulation, likely due to most copies being destroyed after the scandal.


The Texas General Land Office (GLO) (December 22, 1836 - Present) is an agency of the state government of Texas responsible for the management of land and mineral rights that are owned by the state. Established by the Congress of the Republic of Texas on December 22, 1836, the agency manages Texas's publicly owned land, negotiates and enforces leases concerning the use of that land, and sells public lands. Part of these proceeds are put into the state's Permanent School Fund, which helps fund public education in Texas. The GLO has managed The Alamo in San Antonio since 2011. After Texas was annexed by the United States in 1845, the state maintained control over all its public lands from when it had been a sovereign state, making Texas the only U.S. state to control all its own public lands. All federal land in Texas was acquired either through purchase (for example military bases) or donation (national parks). More by this mapmaker...

Eltea Bulea Armstrong (October 23, 1907 - September 2, 1996) (née Eppright) was an American cartographer. Born in Dale, Texas, Eltea moved with her family to Austin in 1915. She was introduced to drawing maps in a high school drafting class. While taking the course, a male classmate boldly declared to the class that no girls were capable of producing work as good as his, which apparently Eltea took as a personal challenge. She excelled in the class, even earning a person recommendation from her teacher for a job at the Miller Blueprint Company in downtown Austin. She worked there until 1935 when she was hired by the State Reclamation Department as a draftperson. The General Land Office (GLO) absorbed the Reclamation Department in 1939 and Eltea was tasked with compiling and drawing new county maps. Apparently, at that time it was estimated that one GLO county map required 900 working hours to complete. Over the course of her thirty-seven-year career with the GLO, she is credited with creating seventy county maps. All seventy of her maps are still in use as the official working GLO county map, with survey edits are made on her original manuscripts which are housed in the GLO map vault. Eltea, a student of history, incorporated history into all the county maps, with a particular focus on conflicts between Anglo settlers and Native Americans. She incorporated visual elements into her maps as well, including artistic renderings of battles between these two groups. She retired from the GLO in 1972. During her retirement, and even during her free time while working for the GLO, she created scrolls and lettering certificates for friends, acquaintances, and even dignitaries! These included governors of Texas, President Camacho of Mexico, the Shah of Iran, the King and Queen of Greece. Learn More...

James Bascom Giles (September 21, 1900 - July 7, 1993) was an American politician who served as Texas Land Commissioner from 1939 until 1955. Born near Manor, Texas, Giles joined the General Land Office as a draftsman in September 1919. He rose through the agency, eventually becoming associated with the State Tax Board as chief abstractor in November 1936. He resigned that position to fun for Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office on April 8, 1938, won, and was reelected eight times. The Veterans' Land Board Scandal, in which Giles was implicated and convicted, broke weeks after Giles's reelection in 1954. Uncovered by Roland Towery, the managing editor if the Cuero Record, the scandal involved land speculators paying veterans to sign applications for land grants for which the businessmen would pocket the money. Giles eventually resigned from office, was convicted of accessory to theft, plead guilty to the rest of the charges filed against him, and served three years in the Texas State Penitentiary. Towery won the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for his reporting. Learn More...


Good. Wear and toning along original fold lines. Small areas of infill along original fold lines and at fold intersections.


OCLC 137370942.