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ROESSLER, ANTON R.

ROESSLER, ANTON R. (?–1893). Anton R. Roessler (Rössler), born in Raab, Hungary, and possibly educated in Vienna, is known for his late nineteenth-century maps of Texas and Texas counties. For twenty years following the Civil War he was a questionable figure in the field of American geology. He added little of permanent value to the written record of the science and has been accused of plagiarism and thievery, but only through Roessler did much of the data collected by the Shumard Survey reach permanent collections (see SHUMARD, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN).

In October 1860 Roessler was married to Octavia Baker, and they made their home in Austin. His first recorded service in Texas was in 1860–61 as draftsman for the Shumard survey. His training must have been sound, for Roessler rapidly became one of the best cartographers in Texas. With the capitulation of the Shumard survey to the exigencies of politics and war in March 1861, Roessler became chief draftsman for the arsenal at Austin in 1862. Apparently he did not leave for Union territory at the start of hostilities along with the rest of his colleagues on the survey, for he later emphasized his loyalty to the Confederacy in a bitter quarrel with Samuel Botsford Buckley.

Roessler's participation in recovering and saving Shumard survey materials resulted in the preservation of some of the fossils and maps. In 1868 he sent to Vienna a collection of supposed Texas fossils, some of which were indeed from Texas; unknown to Roessler, however, and to the confusion of the paleontological world for many years, some items were from Nebraska. Additional fossils, presumed to be Shumard material (although some may have been collected by Roessler himself), were given to the United States National Museum and Columbia University by Roessler. If these fossils were part of the survey collections, Roessler cannot be entirely blamed for salvaging what otherwise would have been lost or destroyed during the war years, when the geological survey rooms were used as a percussion-cap factory.

Roessler's motives for salvaging the survey data for mapmaking are somewhat suspect; but in whatever manner he obtained the data, the maps were mostly published under the banner of the Texas Land and Immigration Company of New York. In addition to geological data of the survey, the maps contained promotional material of a later date. The Shumard survey operated under such adverse political conditions that the maps are no longer of importance except as historical memorabilia.

Roessler made his permanent home in Austin, although in the late 1860s he was a geologist for the United States Land Office in Washington, D.C. In the 1870s he made sixteen county maps and a map of the state of Texas that bears his name; during that same period he was secretary of the Texas Land and Immigration Company of New York and was associated with the Texas Land and Copper Association. He died in 1893.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Samuel Botsford Buckley, First Annual Report of the Geographical and Agricultural Survey of Texas (Houston: A. C. Gray, 1874). James M. Day and Ann B. Dunlap, comps., Map Collection of the Texas State Archives, 1527–1900 (Austin: Texas State Library, 1962). S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July-October 1958-October 1959). Robert T. Hill, The Present Condition of Knowledge of the Geology of Texas (U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin No. 45, Washington: GPO, 1887). Keith Young, "The Roessler Maps," Texas Journal of Science 17 (March 1965).

Keith Young

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Keith Young, "ROESSLER, ANTON R.," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fro56), accessed September 02, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.