Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001 Page: 54
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BY OLIVER FRANKLIN
A elderly but fresh piece of Texana hangs on my office
walJ.It iJpright and large. It is incorrect in some places, and faces
stare down from the border, but it is a map, one of my favorites,
and one of a type that is rarely revered-The History Map.
The History map is classed in the realm of "composite" maps
by academics-technically a geographic representation that includes
information illustrated by superimposition upon the geographic
matrix. Other composite maps might be water flow charts
on dam systems, depictions of troop movements across battlefields,
or illustrations of yield per acre in a region.
The particular map on my wall was created by the Daughters
of the Republic of Texas in 1934 for the Centennial celebration.
Produced by C.M. Burnett and drawn by Guy F Cahoon, it's
very much in keeping with the rich and celebratory yet dignified
style of the Centennial. Printed in many hues, its very deco look
includes large representations of the Heroes of Texas-Travis,
Houston, Austin, Crockett, and the boys-posing bravely along
the periphery of the map. Vignettes of famous Texas moments sit
where Arkansas, New Mexico, and Chihuahua would be.
o411 three are nestled in the heart of
downtown San Antonio.
In two, you can dine in style and stay in
luxury, while the third is just a few blocks away.
Fortunately, sometimes history can be both
accommodating and convenient.
The St. Anthony
300 East Travis
205 East Houston
In it, the Texian navy still glides gently past Matagorda Baythe
Invincible, the Liberty. Conestoga wagons traverse the state
in many places, along illustrated paths. Natural resources and agricultural
products proudly speak to a state blessed with fecundity.
Onions and helium, potash and peanuts. Minor geographic anomalies-the
Llano apparently feeds into both the Colorado and the
Rio Grande-are easily overlooked. It is, after all, all about us.
In 1986, the Sesquicentennial celebration called for an update.
Produced by the Texas Poster Co., the latest map is large and
in full-color. Bold yellows, greens, blues, reds give life to cheerful
cartoon-like illustrations of historical events, agriculture, wildlife,
parades: the Cotton Bowl Enduro-a 125-mile-long motorcycle
race in Memphis, Texas; the Christmas 1931 bank robbery in Cisco,
when the bandits dressed like Santa Claus; the armadillo, which
has four pups in each litter, all of the same sex; the birthplace of
Bob Wills. There are a lot more items on the 1986 map.
I find it interesting to note the differences in the maps. One
striking item in the Sesquicentennial map is the capture of Cynthia
Ann Parker-but she didn't make it to the earlier version. Indeed,
not one woman was illustrated in the first map. Goliad, The
Alamo, and San Jacinto made it, of course, onto both, but the
latest map merely marks the spots with a banner. Don Pedrito
Jaramillo's birth made it to the latest only. The founding of Baylor
University in 1845 made it only in 1936.
The mixture of today and yesterday, place and time, culture
and land is unique to this type of map. Almost always heralded upon
publication, neglected for years, then slowly appreciated as a cultural
artifact more than a cartographic piece, these maps and others
like them nonetheless reveal a fascinating look at a place-definition,
indeed as much a people-definition, across time, both when
looking at the content itself and at the changes made over the years.
And what does this say for the future? Will a map like this
ever be created again? Or will the superscape of electronic communication
and commerce rid us of gravity? Will our heroes no
longer live in our midst?
As John Graves put it in "Goodbye to a River," "Sometimes
you take country for itself...and sometimes it forces its ghosts upon
you, the smell of people who have lived and died there." For better
or worse, we mustn't lose our senses and forget who we are and
who we were, as well as who we will be. Those who came before
live and die at our feet, in our air, amongst our trees, our trees that
themselves are at risk. And we live and die at the feet of our future.
Franklin is executive director of the Texas Historical Foundation.
HERITAGE * 54 * WINTER 2001
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Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Volume 19, Number 1, Winter 2001, periodical, Winter 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45384/m1/54/: accessed September 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.