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One example of Eltea’s phenomenal work is her 1958 map of Randall County (GLO Map # 73269), the home of Palo Duro Canyon, which Eltea expertly represented using hachures. This drafting technique indicates topography using small lines to give the illusion of elevation. This in itself is rare as most GLO county maps do not reflect topography, but Eltea felt this stunning canyon, created by the Prairie Dog Fork of the Red River, should be represented. In addition, Eltea drew a dramatic rendition of the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, the last major Indian battle in Texas, which took place on September 28, 1874 as part of the Red River War. This artistic vignette of the battle adorns the top left of the map. In the top right, Eltea chose to feature a “hoodoo,” the thin tall spire of rock that is the hallmark of Palo Duro Canyon along with a brief informative paragraph that describes the battle. Eltea Armstrong, Randall County, 20 May 1958, Map #73269, Map Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

Eltea Armstrong, a Legendary GLO Draftsperson

Detail image believed to be of Eltea Armstrong, from a photograph of the Bascom Giles Administration, undated.
Photograph of the Bascom Giles Administration, undated. Photograph Collection, Archives and Records, Texas General Land Office, Austin. Eltea is in the fifth row, the fifth person from the right.

Drafting requires more patience than talent. Many very artistic people do not have the patience to do the detail work necessary for drafting. The scroll parchment is very hard to work on and certainly doesn’t lend itself to correcting mistakes. The inking of the map lettering also requires a great amount of patience…”[3]

In the final map she drafted for the GLO, Eltea featured art that represented the amazing stories of Ann Whitney and Amanda Howard on her 1972 map of Hamilton County. Ann Whitney was a frontier schoolteacher who bravely held off a Comanche attack in 1867. She perished but not until after helping all of her school children escape. Amanda Howard was a young woman who happened to be breaking in a horse when the Comanche attack began on the schoolhouse and she bravely rode through Indian lines and over a hill to warn others of the raid. Eltea represented these events by drawing the schoolhouse, surrounded by Indians, and Amanda Howard on her horse riding up a steep hill. Accompanying this drawing is a brief description of these events in the upper margins of the map. Eltea Armstrong, Hamilton Co., 31 October 1972, Map #73168, Map Collection, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.
West Point Seal including a tribute to Lt. J.B. Giles Jr., Eltea Armstrong, Map of Houston County, 6 June 1944, Map #73184, Map Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.
Eltea Armstrong, [detail] Map of Blanco County, 6 July 1965, Map #73081, Map Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

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Texas General Land Office

Official Account for the Texas General Land Office | Follow Commissioner George P. Bush on Twitter at @georgepbush. www.txglo.org