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October 26, 2007

Boisterous Boosterism of Jefferson County by the Prophet of Spindletop

100. [MAP]. HIGGINS, Pattillo. Revised Map of Jefferson County, Texas. Showing Land Surveys, Railroads, and Water Ways. By Pattillo Higgins. Up to Date 1898. [upper right] Entered Accorcing to Act of Congress in the Year 1897, by Pattillo Higgins, in the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington... Uncle Sam’s Deep Water the World’s Progress a Door to the World. N.p., n.d. [1898]. Lithograph map on bank note paper within ornamental border; border to border: 66.3 x 56.3 cm. Creased where formerly folded, a few minor splits (no losses), two small burnholes at upper right, several minor tears in upper half of map (no losses), margins slightly tattered at upper left and upper right, light marginal browning. Despite its flaws, overall an attractive and important map. Very rare (not in Day, University of Texas collection, etc.). OCLC reports only one copy–at the Houston Public Library.

            This detailed map, which contains two certifications dated June 1897 attesting to its accuracy, is a model of boosterism and promotion for Beaumont and Jefferson County. Federal efforts to keep Sabine Pass open to large ships going to Port Arthur are featured prominently at lower right in the large figure of Uncle Sam. Important features on the map include railroads, towns, waterways, and names of property owners, including the notations that sections marked with the letter “P” have been patented, all sections with even numbers are state land, and all sections with odd numbers are railroad’s. Overall, this is a pleasing rendition of an area that would explode in just a few years because of the author’s vision. The area of the discovery of Spindletop was just west of Gladys City, a small, now-abandoned town, named after one of Higgins’ Sunday School students (depicted in a vignette on this map), but which he wished to develop into a major manufacturing center.

            Pattillo Higgins (1863-1955), called the Prophet of Spindletop, found religion as a young man, moved to Beaumont, and proceeded to live a life of sobriety and conservatism. Although doubted by many, he believed in Spindletop’s capacity as an oil-bearing formation, which subsequent events proved correct in early 1901, when the first gusher came in. By turns wealthy and hard-pressed for money, he was nevertheless a dynamic force in the development of Beaumont and indeed the world. See Handbook of Texas Online: Pattillo Higgins. ($1,000-2,000)

Sold. Hammer: $1,300.00; Price Realized: $1,527.50

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