Rare Early Aeronautical Map of Texas - 252nd Aero Squadron - Ellington Field
Rare aviation map prepared by Vernon Guy Smylie of the 252nd Aero Squadron, Ellington Field, in Houston, Texas.
The map covers an approximately 9500 square mile area of eastern Texas centered on Houston and Richmond, with Bay City, Eagle Lake and Bellville to the west, Liberty to the northeast and Galveston Bay and Island and the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast. The many named towns and cities are linked and contextualized with rail roads, shell roads, dirt roads and rivers and streams - all features which would make them easier to differentiate from the air.
The Ellington Field base (where this map was printed) was opened in 1917 as one of thirty-two US Air Service training camps to prepare pilots for aeronautic action in WWI. Ellington Field was an advanced training base, with its own gunnery and bombing range, located near San Leon in the Galveston Bay, an area central to the ground covered on this map. It is more than likely therefore that this particular map would have been produced only in a small number (suggested by the use of the diazo blue-line printing method, prioritising speed over quantity) for the use of trainee US Aero Squadron pilots to prepare them for service in Europe.
This is a rare survival of the early history of Texas aviation. We can locate no other copies of this or similar maps in institutional holdings, or in auction records.
Vernon Guy Smylie Jr. Papers
The Vernon Guy Smylie Jr. Papers are held by the University of Texas at Corpus Christie. Noted author Vernon Guy Smylie, Jr. (1920-1977) was born in Houston and attended high school in La Porte, Texas. He graduated from Texas Christian University in 1941 with a B.A. in journalism and government; he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps where he served in public relations during World War II.
Smylie wrote extensively on Texas and Southwestern topics. He was a member of the Texas State Historical Commission and the Corpus Christi Fine Arts Colony. He was president of the Nueces County Historical Society and a vice chair of the Nueces County Historical Survey Commission.
Vernon Smylie was the author of Edward Cunningham Lasater: His Life and Accomplishments (1952); Taming the Texas Coast (1963); The Secrets of Padre Island (1964); The Moon Belongs to Houston (1966); A Noose for Chipita (1970); Swinney Switch, Texas (1971); Texas in Fact (with Eric Smylie, 1972); The Texas Coast: A Verbal and Artistic Portrait (with Gerda McMurry, 1975); W.H. Bauer: a Biography of Accomplishment (1976); and other titles.