"Necessity is the mother of invention." Perhaps we've all heard this quote numerous times. it is precisely this idea; that spawned the formation of Smith Mapping Service.
Up until the late fifties, land ownership maps weren't readily available for most counties in Arkansas. With an ever-expanding timber industry, the need for such maps was becoming greater and greater.
T.P. Smith, who had made his living during the fifties buying and selling timberland, saw the need for land maps. In 1959, he approached an appraisal company about buying the rights to an older Dallas County ownership map. An agreement was made and Smith Mapping Service was established. Mr. Smith made the necessary name changes to bring the Dallas County map current to that date and had a paper negative made from which prints were made. He then sold these maps for $25.00 each. He had found a need(necessity), then filled that need(invention).
His office was a small 9' X 12' building beside his home in Fordyce, AR. From that humble beginning, Mr. Smith began the process of compiling land maps of surrounding counties; first Ouachita County, then Grant County and others. Between ownership map projects, he made city brochure maps for many of the small towns and cities in south Arkansas.
By the mid to late sixties, Mr. Smith had more work to do than he had time for, so two of his sons, James and Don came into the business. More office space was needed, so the little office was tripled in size. By the late seventies, the business again outgrew available office space so a decision was made to build a new office building which was completed in December of 1979 and moved into the early part of 1980.
The partnership worked like a well-oiled machine for over twenty years. Ownership maps were compiled on about fifty of the seventy-five counties in Arkansas.
In 1989, Don sold his interest in the business to James and headed south to Louisiana to make maps. Soon after, Mr. Smith, the father, had to retire from the business because of failing health. Sadly on October 5, 1990, at the age of 77, he passed away. During his 30 years in the business, he had traveled countless miles; sold numerous maps and ads and made many friends. His presence and leadership in the business is missed even until this day.
James has been at the helm of the business since 1989 along with his wife Jeanie. They are determined to carry on in good manner what Mr. Smith started back in 1959.
According to James, the compilation of good, accurate ownership maps has always been, and will continue to be, the goal of Smith Mapping Service. Their maps aren't cheap, but as the old saying goes, "you get what you pay for". On average, it takes nine months of research and development to compile a county ownership map, so when looked at from this perspective, perhaps SMS maps are quite reasonable in price. With a business at 50+ years and counting, their customers must agree. The Smith family must be doing something right to stay in business that long.