“The beginning of the Southern Pacific Lines in Texas”—Reed

Many Exceedingly Rare Lithographs of Texas, including First Views of some Towns

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156. GALVESTON, HARRISBURG & SAN ANTONIO RAILROAD COMPANY. WHILLDIN, M.(compiler). A Description of Western Texas, Published by the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway Company, the Sunset Route. Compiled by M. Whilldin. Galveston, Texas: Printed at the “News” Steam Book & Job Office, 1876.[2 “To the Reader”, verso blank], [1-3] 4-120 pp., 32 lithograph images on 31 leaves (2 chromolithograph pictorial wrappers and untitled map—showing route of the rail lines and the area from roughly Galveston County in the east, to Bexar County in the West, and from Victoria County in the south, to Milam County in the north; 29 uncolored lithograph plates of Texas scenes, views, and portraits by A. Gast & Co., St. Louis; see list below. 12mo (19.5 x 12 cm), original colored lithograph pictorial wrappers (upper cover with illustration of bird’s-eye view of route; lower cover with lively pictorial vignettes within fancy borders). Upper wrapper neatly reattached (no losses), small portion of upper corner of upper wrap chipped and replaced (not affecting border, title, or illustration), head and tail of fragile spine slightly chipped, else a very fine copy of a very fragile, ephemeral publication. Plates, map, and text exceptionally fine, wrappers fine. Recto of first leaf with contemporary purple ink stamp of Dr. Ammi Brown, “Immigrant Agent” of Boston, with text commencing: “Choice Land Near Railroad $2.50 to $5.00 per acre....” At the top of this first leaf is a contemporary ink ownership signature (W.M. Kilgour?) dated April 19, 1877. Very rare.

List of Lithographs (wraps, map, plates)

Overall sheet size of all: 19 x 12 cm (including line borders), many with attribution below neat line (A. Gast & Co., St. Louis). Several with grey-toned backgrounds. Many of the views show depots in various towns, railroad bridges, and other activities and artifacts relating to trains.

[1]  [Upper wrapper recto] Galveston Harrisburg San Antonio R.R. Immigrants Guide to Western Texas. At center is an oval bird’s-eye view of entire route and the title: Sun Set Route. 16.5 x 10.7 cm. Chromolithograph with bird’s-eye view, the foreground illustrating a smoking train chugging into a G.H. & S.A. R.R. depot with a long view of the landscape extending north. Not in Reps.

[2]  [Verso of upper wrapper] [Untitled map of the area from San Antonio to Austin] 7.7 x 16.1 cm. Hand-colored lithograph.

[3]  [Lower wrapper verso] [Untitled pictorial vignettes: logo GHRR, cattle, hunter, cowboy lassoing a cow, agricultural products, railroad logo, surrounding a lone star in circle within botanical decorative borders], all within fancy borders. 16.2 x 11 cm. Chromolithograph.
[4]  [Untitled bust portraits] Sam Houston Anson Jones M.B. Lamar David G. Burnet. 15.8 x 10.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. At front of book, opposite “To the Reader.”

[5]  [Frontispiece] Galveston.... 15.8 x 10.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Bird’s eye view of the city, many vessels plying the bay as gulls soar through an expansive sky.

[6]  Oakland, Prairie Point. 10.2 x 15.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Between pages 22 and 23.

[7]  Columbus, Texas. J.B. Knotts. Proprietor. 10.1 x 15.4 cm. Uncolored lithograph. After page 23.

[8]  Bridge at Columbus. 10.8 x 15.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 25.

[9]  [Untitled view of railroad trestle]. 10 x 15.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Between pages 26 and 27.

[10] Weiman [sic] South Side. 10.1 x 15.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 30. Image and title printed backwards on recto of sheet.

[11] Weiman [sic] South Side. 10.1 x 15.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. On verso of same sheet as previous print—this time the view is printed correctly.

[12] Weimar, North Side. 10 x 15.4 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 31.

[13] Jackson House, Weimar, G.H. Wilson, Proprietor. Uncolored lithograph. 10 x 15.3 cm. Follows page 36.

[14] Passengers & Freight Depots, Weimar. 10 x 5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 37. Bales of cotton predominate the Victorian depot.

[15] Flatonia. 10 x 15.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 39.

[16] View of Court House, Gonzales, Texas. 10 x 15.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 45.

[17] Luling, North Side. 10 x 15.3 cm. Uncolored lithograph. After page 48.

[18] R.R. Bridge Over St. Marcos River. 10 x 15.4 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 49.

[19] Fall of Comal River, New Braunfels. 15.2 x 10 cm. Uncolored lithograph. After page 60.

[20] New Braunfels. 9.9 x 15.3 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 61.

[21] [2 views one sheet, each in frame, border surrounding all]. Military Plaza, Market in the Morning.| Commerce Street, San Antonio, Tex. 9.8 x 15.3 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 62.

[22] Spring Head San Antonio River. 14.9 x 10.1 cm. Uncolored lithograph. After page 64.

[23] San Antonio [showing Alamo Plaza and Menger Hotel]. Uncolored lithograph. 14.1 x 15.5 cm. Precedes page 65.

[24] St. Mary’s Church. Uncolored lithograph. 15.2 x 10 cm. Precedes page 55.

[25] Mexican Catholic Church, San Antonio. 10 x 15.5 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 67.

[26] Ist. Mission. 10 x 15.3 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 67.

[27] IId. Mission. 10 x 15.3 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Follows page 72.

[28] Third Mission. 15.5 x 10 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 78.

[29] San Antonio River, 3d.Mission in the Distance. 15.2 x 9.8 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 79.

[30] Rapids of San Antonio River, near 3d. Mission. 14.9 x 10 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 84.

[31] San Pedro Springs. 10 x 15.4 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 85.

[32] Natural Bridge, near Boerne, Kendall Co. 15.5 x 9.9 cm. Uncolored lithograph. Precedes page 96.

     First edition, corrected issue. In the first issue, page 112 was mis-set so that most of article IX is missing at the top of the page, only two lines remaining, the first beginning “eighty acres”, and on page 113, the section entitled “Mineral Waters” has two paragraphs. In the present issue, pages 112-113 have been reset, with the entirety of article IX now present on page 112, and the second paragraph removed from the “Mineral Waters” section on page 113. Adams, Herd 2502: “Rare.” CBC 5036. Eberstadt, Texas 162:909: “A valuable description of the lands, towns, agricultural prospects of West Texas, of high interest for the lithographic views.” Graff 4627. Howes W338. Winkler 3913. Some copies have a separately published promotional map inserted, although it is not called for, since a map is already present in the work.

     This superb traveler’s guide covers the area along the route of the railroad from Houston to San Antonio. Each small town along the way is described, and many are illustrated by full-page lithographic views, some of which are the earliest known depictions of the towns. Many of the towns show the railroad depot or, in some cases, depict a covered track crossing a river. Included are views of Columbus, Weimar, Flatonia, Gonzales, Luling, and New Braunfels. A large part of the book is devoted to San Antonio with views of the town and several of the missions, including the Alamo.

     Many nineteenth-century bird’s-eye views of Texas were associated with arrival of the railroads, including promotionals, prints, maps, books, and guides, such as this one. Whilldin’s rare guide is unusual with its many charming miniature bird’s-eye views and panoramas of cities along the route, some of which had not been illustrated with lithographs or engravings before (or since!).

     Notes from Tyler’s forthcoming excellent work on Texas lithographs:

Texans eagerly awaited the opening of railroad lines across the state, because they boosted the economy as well as improved traveling conditions. The merchants of Galveston were particularly interested in the growing rail network, because it enabled them to serve a larger portion of the state through the port. The Galveston Daily News, thus, reported on the progress of the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway’s fledgling Sunset Route as it made its way across the prairie to San Antonio, announcing on December 3, 1875, for example, that a new station had opened twelve miles beyond Luling, and that the stagecoach ride to the Alamo City was now less than forty miles long....

As the railroad to San Antonio neared completion, the railway itself commissioned M. Whilldin, an editor of the Galveston Daily News, and later the Daily Times, and a “writer well known to the press of the United States,” to visit all the towns along the route to “examine...the peculiarities and resources of the country, in order to write understandingly of the inducements which it offers to immigrants.” The lithographs that accompany the text are extraordinary for nineteenth-century Texas, in that they thoroughly illustrate Whilldin’s text in a manner comparable only to the prints for Gray’s 1856 description of the proposed railroad route from San Antonio to El Paso.

The opening print shows an extremely busy Galveston harbor. Then, each of the stations and major towns along the route is illustrated.... The view of the Gonzales courthouse, perhaps, the most interesting image in the series, shows the handsome, brick ante-bellum courthouse, which was located, not in the public plaza, but at the end of a long path leading directly across the plaza. Several scenic views—such as the bridge over the San Marcos River and the falls of the Comal River at New Braunfels—are included, with San Antonio receiving detailed treatment as the destination and the largest and most important city on the route. The missions, springs, churches, plazas, and other vistas are illustrated, including a view of the Alamo and the Menger Hotel next door.

Henry B. Andrews, the vice president of the railway company, claimed in the introduction that they had instructed Whilldin to “confine himself to facts and statistics, and to let the reality, when seen, convince the judgment that the great resources of this beautiful and fertile portion of Texas had not been exaggerated.” The editors of the Galveston Daily News, who printed the text for the book, claimed that they could “corroborate” his statements. The lithographs were printed by A. Gast in Saint Louis.

     The August Gast firm is best known in our region for the lithographed maps of Texas counties his firm created for the General Land Office of Texas, as well as other wonderful images of Texas, such as his large lithograph view of 1891: Velasco the First & Only Deep Water Port on the Coast of Texas (see our Auction 21, item 17). Gast’s firm was active in St. Louis and New York in the late nineteenth century. Gast, though styling himself as a “map publisher” was mostly focused on bank note and revenue stamp lithography. He and his kinsman Leopold Gast came to St. Louis in 1852 from the principality of Lippe-Detmold in Germany between the Weser River and the southeast part of the Teutoburg forest. August and Leopold had trained to become lithographers in Germany, and in 1848 they emigrated to America to New York and eventually to Pittsburgh then on to St. Louis. Leopold brought a lithography press with him, and the brothers opened a small business on Fourth Street. In 1866, Leopold sold his share of the business to August and the firm became August Gast & Co. In 1880, fire destroyed the whole firm. (From Ernst D. Kargau’s, The German Element in St. Louis).

     According to S.G. Reed (A History of the Texas Railroads... Houston, 1941, pp. 191-207), the Galveston, Harrisburg & San Antonio Railway Company was “the beginning of the Southern Pacific Lines in Texas.” Between turmoil of Texas during the Republic era, the Civil War, and Reconstruction, plans for this rail line did not approach realization until the 12th Texas Legislature (1870) granted a charter with prime locations to Jonathan Barrett of Boston on the basis that the line assume the debt due for the School Fund of Texas (which the line fulfilled). Despite competent management and a skilled construction team, the line was delayed due to unexpected events, such as an outbreak of yellow fever in the camps west of Columbus and a scarcity of cash, in part due to the payments of the School Fund of Texas. The latter forced management to economic creativity in paying the workers partially with gutta percha tokens to be used as exchange for twenty-five cents “good for meals.” This led to some people joking that the new charter holder, T.W. Peirce, was the only man smart enough to build a railroad with meal-tickets. But eventually, the line was completed and was quite lucrative.

     Many of the new towns founded along the route are illustrated in this work. On February 5, 1877, San Antonio was reached, “one of the most momentous events in the history of that city. For over a quarter of a century her citizens had sought a railroad to the Gulf... It put San Antonio ‘on the map.’” (Reed, pp. 194-195). 


Sold. Hammer: $2,600.00; Price Realized: $3,185.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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