Texas General Land Office, Archives & Records

A Guide to the Records of Nick Thee, State Surveyor, 1853-1983


Creator: Gard, H.R., 1873-1954(?)
Creator: Hale, Curtis R., 1898-1963
Creator: Smith, Egbert V., 1904-1962
Creator: Thee, Nicholas (Nick) M., 1904-1962
Title: Records of Nick Thee, State Surveyor
Dates: 1853-1983
Abstract: Texas Licensed State Land Surveyor Nicholas (Nick) Mathew Thee began his career in the mid-1930s. He served as Presidio County Surveyor for several terms beginning in the late 1940s, while also performing contract work. He was an active surveyor until his death in 1962. The bulk of this collection consists of plats, maps, notes, and field books produced by Thee during the course of his work. Also included are records of contemporaneous land surveyors H.R. Gard, Brewster County Surveyor; Egbert Victor Smith, Travis County Surveyor; and Curtis Robert Hale, Texas General Land Office (GLO) Engineer.
Identification: NMTR
Quantity: 8.9 Linear feet
Location: File Vault, Map Vault, OVR
Language: The collection is primarily in English with some materials in Spanish.
Repository: Texas General Land Office, Archives & Records

Biographical Note - Hale, Curtis R., 1898-1963

Curtis Robert Hale (1898-1963) appears as the creator of several files within this collection. Hale was a Boundary Engineer for the Texas General Land Office during the 1950s. He was born in Birchwood, Tennessee in 1898 to Addie Dryman and William Allen Hale. Curtis Hale married Alma Leach and the two were known to have resided in Austin, Texas for a period dating back to at least 1930. Mr. Hale died in Austin on April 5, 1963.

Biographical Note - Smith, Egbert V., 1920-1985

Egbert Victor Smith (1920-1985) was a Texas Licensed State Land Surveyor who served as Travis County Surveyor during the 1950s and 1960s. Born in 1920 in Houston, Texas, Smith married Helen Baldwin Bauer in 1951. The couple resided in Austin, Texas where they brought up three daughters. Smith died in Dallas, Texas in 1985.

Biographical Note - Gard, H.R., 1873-1954(?)

H.R. Gard (1873-1954) served as Brewster County Surveyor during the earlier half of the 20th Century. Born in Ohio in 1873, Gard and his wife Anna resided in Alpine, Texas. Gard died in 1954.

Biographical Note - Thee, Nicholas (Nick) M., 1904-1962

Nicholas (Nick) Mathew Thee (1904-1962) was a Texas Licensed State Land Surveyor who served as Presidio County Surveyor for several terms. Thee was born in Hungary and came to the United States with his parents in 1913, at which time the family settled in rural eastern Pennsylvania. Thee married Katherine Weyer in 1926 and the couple had the first three of their seven children while living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The young family moved to Alpine, Texas in 1932, where Thee began his career as a surveyor by 1935. The family later moved to Marfa, Texas, where Thee also maintained an office. He was elected Presidio County Surveyor for the first of several terms beginning in the late 1940s and also performed contract surveying in the Highland/Big Bend area of southwestern Texas. Thee was still active as a surveyor until very shortly before his death at age 57.

Administrative History - Texas General Land Office

The General Land Office (GLO) was created by the Republic of Texas in 1836, charged with keeping records, surveys, titles, and other materials relating to Texan lands in the public domain. Over the GLO’s history, the office’s duties have included overseeing the sale and stewardship of public lands, administering mineral and oil rights, and using materials archived at the GLO to help solve boundary disputes and other legal concerns regarding public land and resources.

Scope and Contents of the Records

This collection documents mid-19th Century land surveys of Texas. The geographic coverage is concentrated in West Texas, particularly Presidio County. However, survey materials span other counties in Western Texas, including Jeff Davis and Brewster counties, and across Texas more broadly. For instance, there is significant coverage of the Gulf Coast regions of Texas. The collection contains field books, hand-drawn and printed maps, plats, aerial photographs and photographic negatives, certificates, survey reports, field books, field notes and sketches, and memoranda and business correspondence. Dates of the materials span from 1853 through 1983.

This collection primarily documents Nick Thee’s activities as Presidio County Surveyor and as an independent contractor. Projects include surveys of both public lands and private property. Thee was active as a surveyor from 1935 until his death in 1962, and the majority of this collection’s materials fall within this time period, particularly during his time as Presidio County Surveyor. A number of Thee’s records documents the development of the towns of Marfa and Presidio. Thee’s materials principally consist of plats, field notes, field books, and maps. Many of Thee’s files are preceded by typed inventory lists, copies of which are also compiled into a separate master inventory list. The creator of these inventories is unknown.

Other contemporaneous land surveyors created documents in this collection, most notably Texas General Land Office Engineer Curtis R. Hale. Included among Hale’s records are reports and correspondence to Texas Land Commissioner Bascom Giles. Much of Hale’s survey work is concentrated along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Additionally, the collection contains several field books from Brewster County Surveyor H.R. Gard and Travis County Surveyor Egbert V. Smith.

The collection also includes legal documents related to the mid-19th century case Welder v. Carroll, including a copy of the original deposition. This case pertained to long-disputed land rights in present-day San Patricio County. The same land was contested in the 1972 case Atchley v. Superior Oil Company.


The papers came to the GLO with little if any of their original order intact. The organization of the records within the original folders was largely maintained, but the processors created the overall arrangement. Series and sub-series are ordered to forefront records of the greatest expected interest to researchers.
The collection is arranged into four series:
I: Field Books, 1935-1973
II: Materials Related to Survey Works, 1917-1983
III: Prospect Maps, 1931-1983
IV: Legal Records 1853-1855


Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Use Restrictions

Materials may be under copyright protection. US copyright law does allow for reproduction of materials under copyright for uses such as critique, criticism, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form.

Index Terms

Carroll, Rufus J.
Giles, Bascom, Land Commissioner, 1900-1993
Jones, R.L.
Morris, R.E.
Welder, John
Aerial Photographs
Alpine (Tex.)
Aransas County (Tex.)
Brewster County (Tex.)
Chambers County (Tex.)
Concho County (Tex.)
Crane County (Tex.)
Crockett County (Tex.)
Culberson County (Tex.)
Double Meridian Distance (DMD) Sheets of Work
El Paso County (Tex.)
Espy Ranch
Field Books
Field Notes
Fischer Ranch
Hopkins County (Tex.)
Hubbard Ranch
Hunt County (Tex.)
Jacoby Ranch
Jeff Davis County (Tex.)
Jefferson County (Tex.)
Land lists
Legal documents
Marfa (Tex.)
Pecos County (Tex.)
Photographic materials
Plat Maps
Presidio (Tex.)
Presidio County (Tex.)
St. Charles Ranch
Stonewall County (Tex.)
Terrell County (Tex.)
Texas, West
Upton County (Tex.)
Van Zandt County (Tex.)
Wood County (Tex.)

Related Archival Materials note

The Texas General Land Office Archives and Records holds land grant documents, maps, and sketches related to land now known as Texas as it passed from the sovereign, including Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the State of Texas, into private hands. Please visit the Texas General Land Office Archives and Records in person or on the web at http://www.glo.texas.gov/history/archives/overview/index.htmlindex.html

The Texas General Land Office Archives and Records holds the Twichell Survey Records, which documents Texas land survey work, particularly in West Texas from 1932-1984, performed for the Humble Oil & Refining Company.

The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin, holds the Irving H. Webb Texas Surveyors Collection, which documents records relating to Texas land surveyors, including H.R. Gard, a creator in this collection.

Administrative Information

Custodial History note

According to a note accompanying the collection, materials were transferred to the GLO Archives from a former GLO warehouse found on Smith School Road, Austin, Texas. Before arriving at the warehouse,, portions of this collection are believed to have been donated by Katherine Thee, widow of Nick Thee, in the 1960s. There is no accompanying documentation of custody prior to the collection’s presence in the warehouse, and the provenance of the entire collection, including additional materials dating until the 1980s, is unknown.

Preferred Citation

[Short title of Document], [Date: Day-Month-Year]. Box [#], Folder [#], p. [#]. Records of Nick Thee, State Surveyor (NMTR)]. Archives and Records Program, Texas General Land Office, Austin.

Processing Information note

Processed by Olivia Solis, Cindy Taylor, and Karen Watts in 2014.

Appraisal note

During processing, maps and other materials created by the General Land Office were identified and compared with GLO holdings. If found to be duplicates, with no added notations, these items were documented and deaccessioned.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Field Books, 1935-1966

Scope and Contents of the Records
Sixty-two field books with original field notations created during survey activities by Nicholas (Nick) M. Thee (bulk), Curtis R. Hale, H.R. Gard, Egbert V. Smith, and a small quantity of books by other/unknown creators comprise this Series, which is divided into five Sub-Series by creator. The field books cover a variety of Texas counties (bulk, Presidio County) and span 31 years.
Nicholas (Nick) M. Thee 1943-1962
1 Field Book (NT1) 1945-1946
Field Book (NT2) 1946
Field Book (NT3) 1946-1947
Field Book (NT4) 1947
Field Book (NT5) 1947-1948
Field Book (NT6) 1948
Field Book (NT7) 1948
Field Book (NT8) 1948-1951
Field Book (NT9) 1948-1949
2 Field Book (NT10) 1949
Field Book (NT11) 1949
Field Book (NT12) 1950-1951
Field Book (NT13A) 1951
Field Book (NT14) 1951-1952
Field Book (NT13) 1952-1953
Field Book (NT15) 1952-1953
Field Book (NT16) 1953-1954
Field Book (NT17) 1954
3 Field Book (NT18) 1954-1955
Field Book (NT19) 1955
Field Book (NT20) 1955
Field Book (NT21) 1955-1956
Field Book (NT22) 1956
Field Book (NT23) 1957
Field Book (NT24) 1939, 1957
Field Book (NT25) 1958
Field Book (NT26) 1958
4 Field Book (unnumbered) 1959
Field Book (NT27) 1958-1959
Field Book (NT28) 1959-1960
Field Book (NT29) 1960-1961
Field Book (NT30) 1960-1961
Field Book (NT31) 1961-1962
Curtis R. Hale 1945-1968
4 Solar Ephemeris and Polaris Tables 1945
Solar Ephemeris and Polaris Tables 1945
Red River Field Book 1951-1954
Traverse Distance Record 1953
Red River, Wichita County Field Notes 1955
Field Book 1955
5 Field Book 1955
Field Book 1956
Empty Field Book 1958
Egbert V. Smith 1956-1961
5 Field Book 1956-1973
Field Book 1958-1961
Field Book 1959
Field Book 1960-1961
Field Book 1961
H.R. Gard 1938-1941
5 Field Book 1938-1945
Field Book 1941
Field Book 1941
6 Field Book 1941-1942
Other/Unknown Creators 1913-1967
6 Field Book 1913-1945
Field Book 1931-1933
Field Book 1938
Field Book 1938
Ephemeris 1943
Field Book 1961-1964
Field Book 1962
Field Book 1965-1967

Materials Related to Survey Works, 1917-1983

Scope and Contents of the Records
Series is comprised of 30 Folders related to survey works undertaken by Nicholas (Nick) M. Thee (bulk), Curtis R. Hale, and in the case of three files, Other/Unknown creators. The Series is divided into three Sub-Series by Creator. Materials include Plats, Surveys, manuscript notes, Survey Sketches, Certificates, photographic materials, and correspondence. Each folder is related to a single project or County.
Nicholas (Nick) M. Thee Materials Related to Survey Works 1913-1967
Box Folder
7 1 Master Inventory undated
Oversized-Box Folder
OS 82 1 Texas Topographical Maps 1913-1932
2 Presidio County Surveys, Plats, Maps 1920-1982
3 Town of Presidio Plats 1926-1966
4 Mining Claims, Branite Mountain 1932
5 Brewster County Plats, Sketches 1941-1951
6 Mixed and Unidentified (Jeff Davis, Brewster, and Pecos Counties) 1945-1958
7 Jeff Davis County Plats, Sketches 1947-1959
8 Marfa Plat, Certificate, Maps 1947-1962
9 City of Alpine 1950-1960
10 Subdivision Plats, Towns Unidentified 1951-1957
11 Hunt County Plat 1959
12 Culberson County Plat undated
Box Folder
7 2 Brewster County Field Notes, Plat, Correspondence 1934
3 Wood and Hopkins Counties DMD (Double Meridian Distance) Sheets of Work 1959-1960
4 Presidio County Soil and Water Conservation Plan 1960
Oversized-Box Folder
OS 82 13 Plat from Field Notes 1930
Box Folder
7 5 Presidio County DMD (Double Meridian Distance) Sheets of Work 1951-1961
6 Presidio County, Hubbard-Fischer Land List, Surveys, Plats, and Field Notes 1951-1959
Oversized-Box Folder
OS 82 13 Postal Rout [sic] Map of North Presidio County undated
13 Aerial Photo 1943
Box Folder
7 7 Jeff Davis County, Espy Ranch DMD (Double Meridian Distance) Sheets of Work 1958-1961
8 Presidio County, Marfa Plat, DMD (Double Meridian Distance) Sheets of Work
Curtis R. Hale 1950-1960
Box Folder
7 9 Reports About Surveys, Drawings, Originals 1950-1960
10 Chambers County, Bascolm Giles Memoranda 1951
11 Aransas River Report, Sketches 1957
12 Jefferson County Sketches 1959-1960
13 Concho County, Jacoby Surveys 1960
Unknown Creators 1959-1982
Box Folder
7 14 Pre-Hurricane Photographic Negatives 1982
Oversized-Box Folder
OS 82 14 Aransas Wildlife Refuge Maps, Field Books 1966

Prospect Maps, 1931-1983

Scope and Contents of the Records
Eight folders of county prospect maps comprise this Series.
94.L Terrell County Prospects 1931
Stonewall County Prospects 1933, 1983
Crockett County Prospects 1935, 1945
Culberson County Prospects 1943, 1982
Crane County Prospects 1945
Andrews County Prospects 1951, 1983
Upton County Prospects 1969
El Paso County Prospects 1977

Legal Records, 1853

Scope and Contents of the Records
Three folders of Legal Records related to a single court case, John Welder, et al, Plaintiff vs Rufus J. Carroll, et al, Defendant 1853-5, comprise this Series. The documents are copies of depositions.
Box Folder
8 1 Legal Records I 1853-1855
Box Folder
9 1 Legal Records II 1853-1855
2 Legal Records III 1853-1855