Preserving the real places and the real stories of Texas.

Real Places 2019: The Bexar County GIS Initiative

Digitally Imposing The Past Onto The Local Landscape

Breakout 2B

Day/Time: Thursday, January 17, 11:15 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
Location: Creekside II, 2nd Floor
Speakers: John F. Reynolds, University of Texas at San Antonio; Eric Lomeli, Bexar County; Jessica Nowlin and Clinton McKenzie, Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio

This session will showcase the use of historical Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for documenting local history. GIS enables the overlay of old maps on modern versions to better track change over time in a local context. In honor of the 300th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of Mission San Antonio de Valero in 1718, Bexar County has partnered with the University of Texas at San Antonio to draw up a set of web-mapping applications exploring the county’s early history. This collaboration resulted in a series of interactive story maps merging geographic data, visuals, and narratives to illustrate how the area’s natural and constructed environments have evolved. Topics covered include prehistoric archeological sites, initial settlement patterns of the Spanish colonists, the acequia system, farms and ranches, and the late-19th-century built environment.

American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) members can earn Certification Maintenance (CM) credits for this activity (or many activities at this event). When CM credits are available, they are noted at the end of an activity description. More information about AICP’s CM program can be found at

CM | 1.25


John F. Reynolds is a professor emeritus at The University of Texas at San Antonio, where he taught U.S. history for about 30 years. He earned his doctorate from Rutgers University and his undergraduate degree from Michigan State University. His expertise covers the fields of American politics, public history, and local history, especially that of San Antonio and Bexar County. Reynolds also experiments with various technologies associated with the digital humanities field, including GIS, HTML, multimedia, and quantitative methods. For the past two years, he has been the principle investigator of a project funded by Bexar County to develop online modules about its history for the 2018 tricentennial.


Eric Lomeli has worked for Bexar County since 2007 and currently serves as GIS Supervisor. He has a doctorate in GIS Management from the University of Redlands, as well as a master’s degree in Latin American Studies and a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a member of the San Antonio Conservation Society and was certified by the Tour Guide Association of San Antonio in 2011. The Bexar County GIS Team has spearheaded historical GIS projects as part of its strategic objective to provide location-related information of interest to the community. The team’s participation in the 2014 San Antonio Founders Day event was recognized as the “Most Innovative Use of History” for its GIS web-mapping applications of 1896–97 Historical Points of Interest.


Jessica Nowlin is a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy and Classics and a GIS specialist at the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In 2016, she completed her doctorate in Archeology at Brown University. Her research interests include issues of colonialism, cross-cultural interaction, digital heritage, and historical GIS. She has recently shifted her focus to Central Texas by working with the Bexar County Historical Mapping Project to help build datasets and visualizations of archeological and historical materials related to the history of settlement in the county.


Clinton McKenzie is an archeologist at the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), specializing in historic archeology and archival research. A lifelong resident of San Antonio, he has a bachelor’s degree from UTSA, a master’s degree from Trinity University, and is currently enrolled in the doctoral program at UTSA. He is a 40-year member of the Southern Texas Archaeological Association and is serving as its chair for 2018. He has been the Texas Historical Commission Archeological Steward for Bexar County for 12 years and is also a member of the Bexar County Historical Commission. McKenzie’s areas of expertise are historic material culture, particularly ceramics, and the Spanish Colonial history of San Antonio.