Under the Republic of Texas, the County Surveyor was appointed by Congress. The Constitution of 1845 made the office elective for a two-year term, and in 1954, a constitutional amendment increased the term of office to four years. Over the years, as open land in Texas began to disappear, the importance of the office decreased and the office was left vacant in many counties. In Travis County, there was a County Surveyor in office from 1840 until 2001, at which point the office was abolished. The duties of the County Surveyor included surveying land and recording and examining field notes of surveys made in the county. Surveying is the process of mapping and measuring land to define and mark property boundaries. The County Surveyor made plats of all surveys in the county and transmitted sketches and field notes of the same to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, along with a list of all certificates or warrants on file in his office. The Surveyor was paid in fees for his services in inspecting and recording field notes, recording surveyors and plats, examining papers and records, making surveys, and designating homesteads.