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Women's Feature: Dana Markus-Wolf

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Recently TSPS highlighted "Women in Surveying" for our March Issue of the Texas Surveyor Magazine. If you missed last months issue, we are highlighting another Women Surveyor, Dana Markus-Wolf. Dana Markus-Wolf, RPLS #4996, is the President and General Partner at Landmark Surveying, LP and TSPS Chapter 13 - Capital Area member.  

How did you get into surveying?: In my second semester of college at Texas A&M, at age 18 I was talking with my mother about what I wanted to do with my life. She asked me some very practical questions like: “Do you want to work indoors or outdoors?” both, I said. She asked, “Do you like Math or English better?” again, I answered both. Out of the blue, she suggested surveying and told me a little about it. I thought it sounded interesting so enrolled in the Civil Engineering Plane Surveying class. Three times a week this class was held indoors and once a week outdoors on the campus golf course. Are you kidding? This could be a job? I loved it! Next, I enrolled in the co-op program, which allowed students to alternate working a semester and going to school a semester. In the spring of 1977, I began working in the field as a tail “chainman” in the swamps of Conroe, Texas.

The Importance of Women in Surveying: I think many women don’t give the surveying profession a chance because it is a male dominated field. The more women join the surveying workforce, the more we will see these barriers eliminated, thereby boosting the pool of qualified female workers. We should never settle for just half the population being given opportunities to succeed in the profession that best matches their abilities and personality type.

In 1977, when I was taking the Civil Engineering Plan Surveying class and started out in the field, it is hard to even imagine what it would have been like to actually have had a female role model or mentor. Several years later, I finally met other women in surveying. I had to fight to use the shovel, the chain saw, the machete, even the metal detector because most men wouldn't let me near these tools! I was always the first out of the truck, and I had the educational framework and passion for my chosen profession. I like to believe that today’s women in surveying are out there following in the footsteps of the original surveyors and not having to fight to do so. 

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TSPS Member Feature: Mark Mercado, RPLS #6350, Chapter 13

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

TSPS: How/why did you get into surveying?

Mark: I graduated from ITT in the spring of 1993. I was going to be a drafter for my Dad’s architecture business, but it was slow at the time, so he introduced me to Mr. Roy Smith of Roy Smith Surveyors. Roy was looking for someone who knew how to work well with computers. I began my career at Roy’s and moved onto Bury+Partners (Bury+Pittman) in 1996. I was under the tutelage of John Bilnoski, who took the time to introduce me to the finer points of boundary analysis. I enjoyed the interaction between the people I encountered when tackling work projects, from there the rest is history. 

TSPS: Why did you join TSPS?

Mark: I joined TSPS to have the opportunity to give back to the Surveying community by serving as a first year director for my local chapter, Chapter 13 – Capital Area. I wanted the opportunity to network with local Surveyors I had heard about while I was gaining experience as a survey tech. It’s difficult to describe being able to have conversations with Ken Gold, Bill O’Hara, David Klotz, John Barnard and some of the people who I have admired, survey luminaries if you will. There are many others, as well, too many to list, but suffice it to say, every time I show up at a TSPS function it’s like being backstage at a rock concert!

TSPS: What is your most memorable surveying moment?

Mark: Honestly, I have a memorable survey moment every time I analyze data, create calc points, and I get a call back from the field crew stating that they recovered a monument within 0.03’ from my calc. Bingo! 

Mark's Favorites:

Color: Purple and Black
Food: Three cheese enchiladas with rice and beans
Animal: My wife and I have a lab mix and two cats. Thankfully, we all get along!
Singer/Band/Group: Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan
Hobbies: Music and Golf, although I can't remember the last time I was on a golf course. I need to fix that!

Mark is currently a TSPS Chapter 13 - Capital Area member. 

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Making Things Right

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

I was reading a photography magazine the other day, and I came across an article that was discussing strengthening a photography business.  I thought, “this pretty much applies to any business, but especially to our business.”  While I am stealing some of the following from that article, I don’t feel particularly bad about it since they listed Psychology Today as their source.  So, I am actually stealing this from Psychology Today.  The article was about dealing with an upset client. I don’t know why we surveyors have clients that would get upset with us; after all, every surveyor is a paragon of virtue. But, nonetheless, we have all had upset clients. If you haven’t … just wait … you will. The client might even be someone within your own company. 

If you are like most of us, you will take the position of having to “deal with” an upset client. But, according to the article, the “dealing with” attitude is one that you will need to let go. “Dealing with” an issue is a quick fix so that it will go away. Unfortunately, the client is likely to go away also. In some cases that is a good thing, but it can also be a negative. When something goes wrong, you should repair your relationship with the client. Empathize with the client instead of getting defensive or making excuses. As my mom used to tell me, “Excuses are like belly buttons - everybody has one.” Those of you that knew my mom are sure to know that she didn’t really say “belly buttons”. The article went on to list the following four goals:


  • Don’t talk over or interrupt
  • Give your complete attention
  • Do not be distracted by thinking of what you want to say next
  • Let them say everything they need to say
  • Don’t jump in and try to “correct” their perception


  • It’s not about you, it’s about them
  • See things from your client’s perspective
  • Focus on how the situation made your client feel
  • Let them know you understand their perspective (even if you don’t agree) and repeat their concerns back to them


  • Show you understand how they feel
  • Let them know you get it
  • Affirm that their upset feelings are reasonable (even if they aren’t).  (“I totally understand why you are upset. I would be, too. It was insensitive/careless/thoughtless/unprofessional.”)


  • Strive to make the other person feel better, relieving them of the emotional burden of their distress
  • Offer a clear “I’m sorry” statement
  • Express how much you regret what happened
  • Empathize and acknowledge the impact of your actions on them

I realize that these suggestions are not valid for all instances or clients. It is a lot better for your business for YOU to decide to lose a client than to have the client decide to leave because they are unhappy with your handling of a situation. Studies show that when we have a good experience with a company, we tend to tell three other people about it. Positive word-of-mouth is great for business. However, those same studies show that someone who is displeased with a situation tells, on average, eleven people about it.


Again, I cannot think of a situation where it is better for the client to fire you than for you to fire the client. And, should you decide to fire the client, the article suggested the following.



You can stretch the truth by saying things like, “We’ve really enjoyed working with you but…”, but don’t lie about the reason. It can (and probably will) come back to bite you later.


When I say don’t lie, it doesn’t mean you have to tell them that everyone you have ever talked to hates their guts. It is acceptable to candy coat things a bit. You can say things like, “It feels like we haven’t been able to find a way to work together that is beneficial for both sides.”


You can send them an email but make sure you also meet with them in person or call them on the phone. It’s more professional, you’ll be sure to get the tone right (which should be polite), and there's a better chance to minimize any hard feelings.


Finish up whatever deliverable you’re working on, package up their files and have them ready to hand over (if the client is all paid up, of course). Recommend another company or consultant who might be a better fit for their needs.


If your client has harassed any of your team members, made inappropriate and offensive statements or actions, or hasn’t paid you as per your contract, feel free to ignore all the above and dropkick them to Pluto.  And by dropkick them to Pluto, I mean contact your lawyer. There are some extreme circumstances that don’t warrant the high road, they call for the legal road.

Doug Turner, RPLS #3988, is Past President of TSPS and member of Chapter 9 - Gulf Coast. 

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TSPS Member Feature: Connor Brown, RPLS #6366, Chapter 4

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 7, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2019

TSPS: How/why did you get into surveying?

Connor: I am a third generation surveyor. Both my grandfather and father, Gary G. Brown, RPLS #4654 worked as surveyors for Champion International Paper Company. When I was younger I swore I’d never become a surveyor. However, as I got older my interest in surveying grew. I went on to work for Michael Parker, RPLS #4527, A.L. Hargraves, RPLS #2075 while I attending Angelina College. I then went on to work for  Buster Sartain, RPLS #1978 while attending UT Tyler. After working in the GIS Industry for a few years, I decided to pursue a career in surveying and worked alongside Steven Estes, RPLS #5631 while attending Lone Star College, Montgomery to earn additional credits in order to take the SIT Exam. Afterwards, I spent five years working with my father while obtaining my SIT and RPLS. Everyone mentioned above helped instill my love for surveying and I’m thankful for their investment into my career.


TSPS: Why did you join TSPS?

Connor: My father was active in the TSPS Chapter 8 - Central East Texas for many years, holding several officer positions. Chapter 8 granted me a scholarship while I was attending UT Tyler. After I obtained my RPLS, I felt it was my duty to give back to the profession and to TSPS. I reached out to Shane Neally, RPLS #5385, who was TSPS President at the time, to see how I could get involved. TSPS has allowed me to connect with many respected surveyors across the state and provided many opportunities to serve the profession and give back. I believe the numerous networking connections I have made through TSPS outweigh any of the costs of being involved. 

TSPS: What is your most memorable surveying moment?

Connor: Mr. Parker would probably want me to mention the 5-foot long Rattlesnake, with 19 rattles that I almost stepped on, the electric fence that I shoved the range pole into or the time I fell and slid down a creek bank, ending up with a water moccasin between my legs! One moment that comes to mind was when I was once surveying inside the Hexion Chemical Plant in Diboll, which entailed running a total station with hardhat, safety goggles and gloves. That day the Hexion Safety lady wouldn’t let us take a shot on a certain tank, dressed up in a hazmat suit only to take the shot herself, and then said she had to keep the range pole for safety reasons. Or even my time spent floating around in a flat bottom Jon boat on a city wastewater treatment plant’s sludge pond to take topographic shots of the pond's bottom. Overall, my most memorable moments is when I discover an original monument. This truly brings a certain thrill that only surveyors understand. 

Connor's Favorites:

Color: Blue
Food: Seafood
Animal: White Tail Deer
Singer/Band/Group: Casting Crowns, MercyMe, TobyMac, Zac Brown Band
Hobbies: History, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Astros

Connor is currently the TSPS Secretary/Treasurer and Chapter 4 Representative. 

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The Surveyors' Fight in Navarro County

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 7, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, February 5, 2019

This excerpt, Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas was submitted by Gina O'Hara, ANCO Insurance. 

The Surveyors' Fight in Navarro County, in October, 1838.

At this date the long since abandoned village of "Old" Franklin, situated in the post oaks between where Bryan and Calvert now stand, was the extreme outside settlement, omitting a few families in the Brazos valley, in the vicinity of Marlin, and was the county seat of the original Robertson County, with its immense unsettled territory. including the west half of Dallas County and territory north and west of it. It was a rendezvous for both surveying parties and volunteers on expeditions against the Indians. Its male population was much larger than the female and embraced a number of men of more or less note for intelligence and courage. Among these were Dr. George W. Hill, long a senator and once in President Houston's Cabinet, for whom Hill County was named: Capt. Eli Chandler, a brave frontiersman; E. L. R Wheelock, Cavitt Armstrong, the father of the Cavitt family of later times, and others.

There was a great desire on the part of both discharged soldiers and other citizens who had just received bounty and head-right certificates for land to have them located and the land surveyed. In the early summer of 1838, near Richland creek, twelve or fourteen miles southerly from Corsicana, three men belonging to a surveying party were surprised and killed. Their names were Barry, Holland, and William F. Sparks, a land locator from Nacogdoches. The remainder of the party, too weak for defense against the number of the savages, cautiously and successfully eluded them and returned home.

Early in October of the same year William F. Henderson, for many years since an estimable citizen of Corsicana, fitted out a surveying party to locate lands in what is now the southwest portion of Navarro County. He and his assistant each had a compass. The entire party consisted of twenty-four men and one boy and was under the command of Capt. Neill.

The party arrived on the field of their labors and encamped at a spring or water hole about two-mile northwest of what after that expedition was and ever since has been known as Battle creek.

Here they met with a large body of Indians, chiefly Kickapoos, but embracing some of several tribes, who were encamped in the vicinity, killing buffalo. They professed friendship, but manifested decided opposition to having the lands surveyed, assuring the party that if they persisted the Comanches and Ionies would kill them. But it was believed their design was only to frighten them away. After a day or two a trial of the compasses was made, when it was found one of the needles had lost its magnetism and would not work. William M. Love, afterward a well-known citizen of Navarro County, and a Mr. Jackson were sent back to Franklin for a magnet to recharge the needle, thus reducing the party to twenty-three. Early on the following morning Henderson ran a line for a mile or so, more or less Indians following and intently watching the manipulation of the compass, one of them remarking: "It is God's eye." The party, after a satisfactory trial, returned to camp for breakfast, and after that was over, returned to, and were about resuming their work, when from a ravine, about forty yards distant, they were fired upon by about fifty Indians. The men, led by Capt. Neill, at once charged upon them, but in doing so, discovered about a hundred warriors rushing to aid those in the ravine from the timber behind them. At the same time about the same number of mounted Indians charged them from the prairie in their rear. Neill retreated under heavy fire to the head of a branch in the prairie with banks four or five feet high. There was some brush and a few trees; but seventy-five yards below them was another cluster, of which the enemy took possession. This was between 9 and 10 o'clock a. m., and there the besieged were held under a fluctuating fire until midnight. Everyone who exposed himself to view was killed or wounded. Euclid M. Cox for an hour stood behind a lone tree on the bank doing much execution, but was finally shot through the spine, upon which Walter P. Lane, afterwards a distinguished Brigadier-general in the Confederate army, jumped upon the bank and dragged him into the ravine, in which he died soon afterwards. A man named Davis, from San Augustine, having a fine horse, attempted to escape through the line of Indians strung in a circle around the little band, but he was killed in sight of his comrades. A band of mounted Indians, not participating in the fight, collected on an elevation just out of gunshot, and repeatedly called out, " Come to Kickapoo! Kickapoo good Indian! " and by gesticulations manifested friendship, in which our men placed no possible confidence; but among them was Mr. Spikes, a feeble old man of eighty-two years, who said his days were few at best, and as he could not see to shoot, he would test their sincerity. He mounted and rode up to them and was mercilessly butchered. Night brought no relief or cessation of the attack, and a number of our men were dead in the ravine. The moon shone brightly until midnight. But when it sank below the horizon, the survivors determined to make an effort to reach the timber on a brushy branch leading into a creek heavily covered with thickets and trees and distant hardly half a mile. Three horses yet lived, and on these the wounded were placed, and the fiery ordeal began. The enemy pressed on the rear and both flanks. The wounded were speedily shot from their horses. Capt. Neill was wounded and immediately lifted on one of the horses, but both fell an instant later. A hundred yards from the brush Walter P. Lane was shot in the leg, below the knee, shattering, but not breaking the bone. He entered the brush with Henderson and Burton. Mr. William Smith entered at another place alone, and Mr. Violet at still a different place, terribly wounded, and at the same instant another man escaped in like manner. Once under cover, in the dark, each lone man, and the group of three, felt the necessity of perfect silence. Each stealthily and cautiously moved as he or they thought best, and the fate of neither became known to the other until all had reached the settlements. Smith, severely wounded, traveled by night and lay secreted by day till he reached the settlements on the Brazos, distant over forty miles.

The unnamed man, slightly wounded, escaped eastwardly and succeeded, after much suffering, in reaching the settlements. Henderson, Lane and Burton found lodgment in a deep ravine leading to the creek. Lane became so weak from the loss of blood that Henderson tore up his shirt to stanch and bandage the wound and succeeded in the effort. Passing down some distance, they heard the Indians in pursuit, and ascended the bank and lay in brush with their guns cocked. The pursuers passed within three or four feet but failed to discover them. About an hour before day they reached the creek and traveled down to a muddy pool of water. On a log they crawled onto a little island densely matted with brush, under which they lay concealed all day. They repeatedly heard the Indians but remained undiscovered. When night came as an angel of mercy, throwing its mantle over them, they emerged from their hiding place; but when Lane rose up, the agony from his splintered leg was so great that he swooned. On recovering consciousness, he found that Burton, probably considering his condition hopeless, was urging Henderson to abandon him; but that great-hearted son of Tennessee spurned the suggestion. The idea inspired Lane with indignation and the courage of desperation. In words more emphatic than mild he told Burton to go, and declared for himself that he could, and with the help of God and William F. Henderson, would make the trip. By the zigzag route they traveled it was about thirty miles to Tehuacano springs. They traveled, as a matter of course, very slowly, and chiefly by night. Lane hobbling on one leg, supported by Henderson. For two days and nights after leaving their covert they had neither food nor drink. Their sufferings were great, and their clothing torn into rags. On the third day, being the fourth from their first assault by the enemy, they reached the springs named, where three Kickapoos were found with their families. At first, they appeared distant and suspicious, and demanded of them where and how they came to be in such condition. Henderson promptly answered that their party, from which they had become separated, had been attacked by Comanches and lonies, and that they, in their distress, had been hoping to fall in with some friendly Kickapoos. This diplomacy, however remote from the truth, had the desired effect. One of the red men thereupon lighted his pipe, took a few whiffs, and passed it to Henderson, saying, " Smoke! Kickapoo good Indian!" All smoked. Provisions were offered, and the women bathed, dressed and bandaged Lane's leg. Henderson then offered his rifle to one of them if he would allow Lane to ride his horse into Franklin. After some hesitation he assented, and they started on; but during the next day, below Parker's abandoned fort, hearing a gunshot not far off (which proved to belong to another party of Kickapoos, but were not seen), the Indian became uneasy and left them, taking both his pony and the rifle. It should be stated that Lane's gun had been left where they began their march, at the little island, simply because of his inability to carry it; hence Burton's gun was now their last remaining weapon. But now, after the departure of the Indian, they were gladdened by meeting Love and Jackson, returning with the magnet, ignorant, of course, of the terrible calamity that had fallen upon their comrades. Lane was mounted on one of their horses, and they hurried on to Franklin, arriving there without further adventure.

A party was speedily organized at Franklin to go to the scene and bury the dead. On their way out at Tehuacano springs, by the merest accident, they came upon Mr. Violet in a most pitiable and perishing condition. His thigh had been "broken, and for six days, without food or water, excepting uncooked grasshoppers, he had crawled on his hands and knees, over grass and rocks and through brush, about twenty-five miles, in an airline, but much more, in fact, by his serpentine wanderings in a section with which he was unacquainted. His arrival at the springs was a providential interposition, but for which, accompanied by that of the relief party, his doom would have been speedy and inevitable. Two men were detailed to escort him back to Franklin, to friends, to gentle nursing, and finally to restoration of health, all of which were repaid by his conduct as a good citizen in after life.

The company continued on to the battle-ground, collected and buried the remains of the seventeen victims of savage fury, near a lone tree.

It may well be conceived that heroic courage and action were displayed by this little party of twenty- three, encircled by at least three hundred Indians — not wild Comanches with bows and arrows, but the far more formidable Kickapoos and kindred associates, armed with rifles. It was ascertained afterwards that they had sustained a loss in Killed equal to double the number of the Texians, besides many wounded. It was believed that Euclid M. Cos, before receiving his death wound, killed eight or ten.

The Surveyors' Fight ranks, in stubborn courage and carnage, with the bloodiest in our history — with Bowie's San Saba fight in 1831, Bird's victory and death in Bell County in 1839, and Hays' mountain fight in 1844, and others illustrating similar courage and destructiveness.


Of the twenty-three men in the fight seventeen were killed, viz.: Euclid M. Cox, Thomas Barton, Samuel Allen, — Ingraham, — Davis, J. Hard, Asa T. Mitchell, J. Neal or Neill, William Tremier, — Spikes, J. Bullock, N. Barker, A. Houston, P. M. Jones, James Jones, David Clark, and one whose name is not remembered.

Those who escaped were William F. Henderson, Walter P. Lane, wounded as described, and Burton, who escaped together; Violet, wounded as described; William Smith, severely wounded in the shoulder; and the man slightly wounded, who escaped towards the east — 6. Messrs. Love and Jackson, though not in the fight, justly deserve to be classed with the party, as they were on hazardous duty and performed it well, besides relieving Lane and then participating in the interment of the dead.

In the year 1885, John P. and Rev. Fred Cox, sons. of Euclid, at their own cost, erected, under the shadow of that lone tree, a handsome and befit- ting monument, on which is carved the names of. all who were slain and all who escaped, excepting that one of each class whose names are missing. The tree and monument, enclosed by a neat fence, one mile west of Dawson, Navarro County, are in plain view of the Texas and St. Louis railroad.

Note. This William Smith, prior to this disastrous contest, but at what precise date cannot be stated, but believed to have been in the winter of 1837-8, lived in the Brazos bottom. The Indians became so bad that he determined to move, and for that purpose placed his effects in his wagon in his yard, but before starting his house was at- tacked. He barred his door and through cracks between the logs fired whenever he could, nearly always striking an Indian, but all his reserve ammunition had been placed in the wagon and the supply in his pouch was nearly exhausted, when Mrs. Smith opened the door, rushed to the wagon, secured the powder and lead and rushed back. Balis and arrows whizzed all about her, but she escaped with slight wounds and immediately began molding bullets. She thought not of herself but of her little children. Honored forever be the pioneer mothers of Texas and thrice honored be such as Mrs. Smith. It was my pleasure after- wards, personally, to know her and some of her children, and to serve on the Southwestern frontier with her fearless husband, an honest Christian man. One of their sons was the late Prof. Smith of Salado College, a son worthy of such parents. Mr. Smith crippled so many of his assailants that they retired, leaving him master of the situation, when he removed farther into the settlements. There is one fact in connection with this affair that, as a Texian, I blush to state. There was an able-bodied man in Mr. Smith's house all the time who slunk away as the veriest craven, taking refuge under the bed, while the heroic father and mother "fought the good fight and kept the faith." I have not his name and if it were known to me would not publish it, as it may be borne by others of heroic hearts, and injustice might be done; besides, the subsequent life of that man must have been a continuing torture.


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