Texas in the Early Days
Published:January 01, 1952
In 1888 I was appointed by the State of Texas geologist in charge of the eastern section of that State and I left Canada to accept this appointment,” continue the Penrose Memoirs. “I went first to Austin, the capital of the State, to meet Mr. E. T. Dumble, who was Director of the Survey, and to prepare for my work.” The story of how young Penrose—he was at this time twenty-five years old—got the Texas appointment, is told by Robert T. Hill, long identified with Texas geology, both as a member of the Texas Survey and as professor at the University of Texas, in a personal letter to J. Stanley-Brown,* dated March 23, 1932, as follows: “I was intimately associated with Doctor R. A. F. Penrose, Jr., during the first undertaking of his scientific career, and was instrumental in procuring for him his first professional engagement as a geologist after his graduation from Harvard University. It came about as follows: With youthful enthusiasm and the backing of Major J. W. Powell, at that time Director of the United States Geological Survey, I undertook, in 1887, tne task of trying to establish a State Geological Survey in Texas and a Chair of Geology in the University of Texas at Austin. After the lobbying vicissitudes of two stormy sessions of the Legislature the Geological Survey bill was finally passed, and Major Powell was requested to recommend a suitable person for the office of State Geologist. Through sad misfortune the request reached Washington when the Major was absent on a vacation with Dr. Alexander Graham Bell in Nova Scotia.
Figures & Tables
Life and Letters of R. A. F. Penrose, Jr.
When, in the summer of 1931, Richard Alexander Fullerton Penrose Jr., died in Philadelphia, he left his personally acquired fortune, amounting to approximately ten million dollars, to be divided equally between The Geological Society of America and the American Philosophical Society. As a memorial to its benefactor and as a picture of a period in the history of American geological science, this volume has been prepared by The Geological Society of America. Beginning with notebooks, diaries, and letters in the possession of the Society, and adding thereunto material slowly accumulated from his family, his friends, his associates, and acquaintances, the story of his life has been pieced together. For members of Penrose’s profession, the geologists, this account of his life should have particular interest, for it presents a picture of a period which is gone forever, a picture of conditions under which the early investigators in geology and the mineral industry labored and brought forth the principles and methods of later days, methods more scientific, perhaps, but, nevertheless, methods founded upon the efforts of those pioneers. If one is inclined to smile at the picture of the young man of the 1880’s sitting on a bluff above a Texas river, confronted with the problem of making a survey without knowing how to go about it, let him ask himself what he would have done, similarly unequipped and in hitherto unknown territory. Let the geologist of today, with his carefully prepared field equipment, ask himself just how well he would like to look forward to “living off the country”, as Penrose did in the early days in Arkansas. It speaks volumes for the stamina of any man to be able to confront uncomfortable conditions with the nonchalance which Penrose displayed. And how much more to his credit this is, when a man is endowed by birth, position, and economic security so that he need never have left the comforts of urban living in Philadelphia.