Map of the State of Texas, 1879

Texas General Land Office
Jun 3 · 7 min read
Due to its large size, reproductions of the Pressler-Langermann map are printed at 58.5” x 60.7”, 57% of the original.

Charles W. Pressler and A.B. Langermann compiled this map from the records of the Texas General Land Office, where they worked as draftsmen. They also incorporated information from official U.S. coastal surveys, reports of the Boundary Commission, and various military sources. This large-format map, measuring nearly 103 by 107 inches, represented major improvements in the depiction of Texas in the nineteenth century.[1] It demonstrates the importance of the railroad system throughout the state and illustrates the vast amounts of land that the railroad companies received as an incentive to invest in Texas, as well as land that was still available.

Charles W. Pressler and A.B. Langermann, Map of the State of Texas, Austin, TX: Texas General Land Office, 1879, Map #16973, Map Collection, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

Pressler was born in Prussia in 1823. He studied to become a surveyor and, upon his graduation, entered state service. Dissatisfied with his position, he became involved with the Adelsverein, a group determined to establish a German foothold in Texas through mass emigration. He left his homeland and arrived in Texas at Galveston in February 1846.[2] Pressler was hired by Jacob De Cordova, one of the most active land speculators in Texas. He led surveying expeditions for the next year. His service at the GLO began as a draftsman in 1850, and by 1858 he was principal draftsman. In 1865, he became the chief draftsman, a position he held for 34 years.[3] It was during this tenure that Pressler and Langermann collaborated on the Map of the State of Texas.[4]

The title block of the map indicates the sources from which the map was drawn, including records on file in the General Land Office.
The Galveston Daily News noted the release of Pressler and Langermann’s map in their May 21, 1879 edition. The Galveston Daily News. (Galveston, Tex.), Vol. 38, №50, Ed. 1 Wednesday, May 21, 1879, newspaper, May 21, 1879; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth464267/:accessed October 4, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Abilene Library Consortium.

A. B. (August) Langermann was born in Germany in 1843,[5] and was in New Orleans by 1873, where he was listed as a surveyor on fire insurance atlases for the city.[6] He began work at the General Land Office as a draftsman in April 1875 and remained there for about five years, where he drafted approximately twenty-two county maps.[7] GLO land records indicate that he later purchased property in several counties as part of the land scrip program to sell off the vacant public domain of the state, as well as purchases from private individuals and companies. In 1881 he drafted a Railroad System Map of Texas for the newspaper the Galveston News, which was printed by the Rand McNally Co. of Chicago. In 1884 Langermann was listed as a Notary Public in Austin, but by 1895 he was working as a real estate agent and surveyor in Houston. In 1897 he became the local Houston agent for Lemp Brewing Company of St. Louis, and later added the Galveston and Austin areas to his region.[8] A. B. Langermann passed away in Galveston on August 19, 1906, and was buried in Houston.[9]

The route of the Texas and Pacific Railroad stretched across Texas.
Towns and cities were named throughout Texas, with the designation “P.O.” following those with post offices.

Their map was commissioned as the official state map of Texas, and it shows the expanding network of railroads, actual and proposed, at that time. Existing lines, crucial to the growth of the state throughout the nineteenth century, are represented by dotted lines with bold dashes, while proposed lines appear as dotted lines with less prominent dashes. The presence of the majority of rail lines in East and Central Texas indicates that most of the population lived in those areas and that West Texas was not yet as developed.

Roads are represented by a double line, and the letter “R” indicates ranches.

The map also details the locations of post offices, trails, and roads. The letters “P.O.” follow the name of a town where a post office was established. Large ranches in South Texas are indicated by an “R” before the name of the landowner. The early network of roads is also depicted by a double line. Although they are not labeled, the roads provide a visual record of how Texans traveled across the state.

Railroad company land was usually surveyed in large blocks, with a checkerboard pattern displayed by alternating company and state surveys.

Railroad lands, which had been granted to companies as compensation for laying track throughout the state, are shown in checkerboard-style blocks. Alternate sections in these blocks were reserved to the state to sell for the benefit of public education. Sections given to the various railroad companies were required to be sold within a certain number of years. This system encouraged railroad growth, and also hoped for increased settlement in underpopulated areas, elevated land and property value, and increased tax revenue. Finally, it led to the lands of West Texas being surveyed at no cost to the government.[10]

[left] Greer County was ceded to the United States after it was determined that the south fork of the Red River formed Texas’s true northern border. [right] Encinal County, never fully established, became part of neighboring Webb County.

Reflective of Texas’s shifting internal and external boundaries over time, there are two defunct counties that appear on this map. Greer County, located along the Red River, was lost to what eventually became Oklahoma after the United States established the south fork of the Red River as the northern border of Texas.[11] Encinal County was never fully established and was absorbed by neighboring Webb County.[12]

Pressler and Langermann’s 1879 map was the culmination of a sequence of maps of Texas that represented a new age of cartographical accuracy. His work on Texas was considered so reliable that it was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1896 case United States vs. Texas. №8 which decided the fate of Greer County.

A Table of Counties provides detailed information on each county, including some defunct counties.

Maps at the GLO help tell a story of the history of Texas and provide a glimpse of what it was like at a certain point in time. Stephen F. Austin pioneered the cartography of modern Texas, and with this map, Pressler and Langermann carried on that legacy with dedication and precision.

Click here to sign up for weekly Texas history e-mails!

[1] The map is so large that it requires a special jumbo map cabinet for storage, and needed innovative shipping techniques to transport it to Houston for the 2017 exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

[2] German Immigration Contract for Karl Wilhelm (Charles William) Pressler, 29 October 1845, GIC 002054, Texas Land Records, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

[3] Oaths of Office for Charles W. Pressler, 4 March 1858 and 30 August 1865, Oaths of Office 000116, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

[4] Handbook of Texas Online, Charles A. Pressler, “Pressler, Karl Wilhelm,” accessed August 23, 2017, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpr07. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on May 2, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

[5] August B Von Langermann (1843–1901), Find A Grave Memorial. Listing an erroneous death date of 1901, but clearly showing a death date of 1906 on the attached photograph of Langermann’s headstone. Accessed September 12, 2017 https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=51430016#.WbhUkuZls6I.email

[6] Which seems to indicate Langermann had possibly some type of engineer or surveying education while in Germany or upon arrival in the U.S. Langermann and Celles Fire Insurance Atlases, Collection 122, Southern Architectural Archives, Special Collections Division, Tulane University Archives. Accessed September 12, 2017

http://seaa.tulane.edu/findingaids/bycollectionnumber

[7] Oath of Office for A.B. Langermann, 8 April 1875, Oaths of Office 000091, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX; Internal GLO map creator database, Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin, TX.

[8] Lemp Brewing was at one time the largest brewer in St. Louis, even larger than Anheuser-Busch. “William J. Lemp Brewing Company,” Beerhistory.com. Accessed September 12, 2017

<http://www.beerhistory.com/library/holdings/lemp1.shtml>

“Lemp Brewery Agency,” The Daily News-Tribune, Industrial Review Edition: Austin, Capital City of Texas. Book, February 1906; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth38122/m1/19/: accessed September 12, 2017).

[9] “Dies at Galveston: A. B. Langermann Succumbs to Illness,” Houston Daily Post, August 20, 1906, p. 7. The Houston Post. (Houston, Tex.), Vol. 22, Ed. 1 Monday, August 20, 1906, newspaper, August 20, 1906; Houston, Texas. Accessed September 12, 2017,

https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth602696/m1/7/?q=Langermann

[10] The quality of the surveying was so poor in some places, however, that it had to be redone and thus provided reduced benefit. Thomas Lloyd Miller, The Public Lands of Texas, 1519–1970, Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1972, pp. 102–105.

[11] Handbook of Texas Online, Webb L. Moore, “Greer County,” accessed August 23, 2017, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hcg81. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on September 22, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

[12] Handbook of Texas Online, Seymour V. Connor, “Encinal County,” accessed August 23, 2017, https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hce71. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on January 30, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Save Texas History

Articles from the Texas General Land Office Save Texas History Program

Texas General Land Office

Written by

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

Save Texas History

Articles from the Texas General Land Office Save Texas History Program

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade