BY THE SURVEYOR GENERAL OF THE UNITED
STATES, FOR THE STATES OF OHIO AND
INDIANA, AND THE TERRITORY OF
JOHN H. WOOD, PRINTER.
1. The public Lands of the United States are surveyed in a uniform
mode, established by law, by lines run by the cardinal points of the
compass; the north and south lines coinciding with the true meridian, and
the east and west lines intersecting them at right angles, giving to the
tracts thus surveyed, the rectangular form.
2. The public lands are laid off and surveyed, primarily, into tracts
of six miles square, called Townships, containing, each, 23,040
acres. The townships are subdivided into thirty-six tracts, called
Sections, each of which are one mile square, and contains 640
acres. Any number, or series, of contiguous townships, situated north or
south of each other, constitute a Range.
3. To obtain and preserve a convenient and uniform mode of numbering
the ranges and townships, it is usual, in commencing the survey of an
insulated body of public lands, to run, or assume, two Standard
Lines, as the basis of the surveys to be made therein. One of these
standard lines is run due north and south, and is called the Principal
Meridian, to which the ranges are parallel [sic], and from
which they are numbered eastward and westward. The other standard line is
run due east and west, and is called the Base Line, and from which
the townships are numbered northward and southward.
4. To distinguish from each other, the systems or series of surveys
thus formed, the several Principal Meridians are designated by progressive
numbers. Thus, the Meridian running north from the mouth of the Great
Miami river, is called the First Principal Meridian; the Meridian
running north through the centre of the State if Indiana, is called the
Second Principal Meridian; that running north from the mouth of the
Ohio river through the state of Illinois, is called the third
Principal Meridian; and that running North from the mouth of the Illinois
river, through the State of Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, is
called the Fourth Principal Meridian.
5. This mode of executing the public surveys, conduces more, perhaps,
than any other which could be devised, to the simplicity, regularity, and
symmetry of the work; and to the ease and certainty with which any tract
may be identified.
6. The public lands are surveyed under the direction of the Surveyor
General, by Deputies appointed by himself. He selects for his deputies
none other than skilful and experienced practical surveyors, men of good
moral character, in whose integrity and fidelity the fullest confidence
can be reposed. — Their duties are prescribed in the following code
General Instructions, a copy of which is furnished to every deputy, for
7. Each deputy surveyor is required, before he enters upon the duties
of his appointment, to take and subscribe an oath or affirmation for the
faithful performance thereof: which oath or affirmation is to filed in the
office of the Surveyor General. The following form of this oath or
affirmation (or the substance thereof) will be used:
"I, A_________ B_______________ do solemnly swear (or
affirm,) that I
will well and faithfully perform the duties of a deputy surveyor of United
States Lands, to the best of my skill and ability, and according to the
laws of the United States, and the Instructions of the Surveyor General,
as I shall answer to God at the Great Day.
Sworn and subscribed before me, this _____ day of 183
J ___________ K ___________
Justice of Peace.
8. Each deputy Surveyor appoints his own chain carriers, markers, and
flag bearers, who must severally take and subscribe an oath, or
affirmation, for the faithful performance of the trust reposed in them;
which oath, or affirmation, may be administered by the deputy Surveyor
himself, or by a Justice of the Peace, and must be filed in the Surveyor
General.s Office. The following is the oath to be taken by the
"I, C________ D _________ do solemnly swear [or affirm]
that I will well
and faithfully perform the duties of chain-carrier in all surveys of
United States Lands in which I shall be employed as such; and that I will
strictly attend to leveling the chain, and plumbing the tally pins, in
measuring over hills or side-lying ground — to the best of my skill
ability, as I shall answer to God.
Sworn and subscribed before me, this ____ day of ______183
9. The oaths of the markers and flag-bearers may be varied to apply
to their duties respectively.
1. Before entering upon the execution of any surveys which may be
allotted to a deputy Surveyor, he enters into a written contract with the
Surveyor General, in which the surveys to be performed are described, and
the period for their completion, and the compensation per mile, fixed; and
wherein the deputy binds himself to a faithful performance of the work,
according to the terms of the contract, and pursuant to the laws of the
United States and the instructions of the Surveyor General. To the
contract is annexed a bond, executed by the deputy with approved security,
conditioned for the faithful performance of the work, in the penalty of
double the estimated amount or value of the contract.
2. The surveys must be executed, in all cases, by the deputy
contracting for the same, in his own person, or under his immediate
personal superintendence and direction. All sub-contracts are
3. In case of failure to comply with the terms of a contract, unless
such failure arise from causes satisfactorily proven to be beyond the
controul [sic] of the contractor, immediate measures are to be
taken to recover the penalty of the bond, agreeably to law. And no deputy
surveyor who shall improperly fail to fulfill his engagements, will
afterwards be employed in the public surveys; and of every such failure,
the Surveyor General is required to give immediate notice to the
Commissioner of the General Land Office.
4. And where any portion of a survey is found or suspected to be
erroneous, payment therefor [sic] will be suspended until the error
is corrected, or the cause of suspicion done away to the full satisfaction
of the Surveyor General.
OF SURVEYING INSTRUMENTS
1. You will provide yourself with a good Compass, having a
nonius and movable sights, which is to be compared with and regulated by
the Standard Compass in the Surveyor General's Office.
2. You will likewise procure a Surveying Chain, two poles, or
thirty-three feet, in length, and containing fifty-links; which is to be
compared with and adjusted by the Standard Chain in the Surveyor
General's Office. It should be made of good iron wire, of such size as to
prevent the chain from stretching by use, and yet light enough to be
readily straightened in measuring. The handles should be made of iron or
brass, at least a fourth of an inch in diameter.
3. You must be provided likewise with the measure of the
standard chain, which may be made similar to your surveying chain, of
smaller wire. And by this your surveying chain must be compared and
adjusted, at least every other day, or oftener.
4. Tally-Rods, are usually made of iron, about twelve inches in
length, having a ring at the top, in which is fixed a piece of red cloth,
or something else of a conspicuous colour [sic], that they may be
more readily seen when stuck in the ground. Eleven tally-rods is the
number required to be used. They should be counted by both of the
chain-men at the end of every "out," to see that none have been lost.
5. Your compass and chain must be frequently examined in the field, in
order to discover and rectify any error or irregularity which may arise in
the use of them.
6. The aberrations of the needle, are a fruitful source of error in
surveying. These may arise from a variety of causes. "Local attraction,"
owing to the presence of iron mineral, is generally assigned by surveyors
as the principal cause of the disturbance of the needle. But it is
believed that in many instances, the true source of the errors complained
of, is to be found in the carelessness or inattention of the surveyor, in
the use and management of his compass, or the erroneous measurement of his
lines. All these must be constantly and vigilantly guarded against, by
every means in your power.
OF THE VARIATION OF THE COMPASS.
There is a certain irregular curve line which passes around the earth
towards the north and south poles, called the "line of no
variation." On every part of this line the magnetic needle co-incides
sic] with the true meridian. But on each side of it, the needle
declines from the true meridian towards it. This declination is usually
called the "variation of the compass;" and increases gradually, but
irregularly, in receding either eastward or westward from the line of no
variation, until it reaches its maximum, beyond which it gradually
decreases again to the line of no variation. This line is not stationary;
but moves to the eastward for a series of years, and then to the westward
through another series of years, but without any regular period, or any
known proportion between the time of this movement and the
amount thereof. Hence the variation
[sequence of pages ends
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cases, thus: — suppose yourself standing at the head of the river
looking down stream; then that bank of the stream on your right hand is to
be called and referred to in your Field Notes as the "Right bank," and
that on your left hand as the "Left bank." —And these terms, thus
applied to navigable rivers, are to be used in all cases, whether in
running lines or taking meanders.
OF PRIVATE CLAIMS, INDIAN RESERVATIONS, &C.
6. Great care must be taken to describe clearly the post at which any
meanders of a river, bayou, lake, or island commence; and also all the
posts, on township or section lines which may be intersected in the
progress of the meanders.
7. The Field Notes of meanders are to be written at the end of the
subdivisions. The courses are to be inserted in a column on the left of
the page; the distances, in chains and links, in a column next to this,
and the notes or remarks on the right, opposite the proper course and
distance. The column of .distances. must be added up at the foot thereof
on each page.
8. Errors in meandering are of very frequent occurrence, arising
principally, it is believed, from bad chaining. Your special attention is
called to the manner in which this part of the work is executed; and all
possible accuracy is enjoined both in the courses and measurement, and the
entry thereof in your field book.
1. In surveying Private Claims, Indian Reservations, on other tracts
not conforming to section lines, the location thereof must be particularly
described, and the place of beginning clearly stated in your Field Notes;
also the name of the claimant in whose right the survey is made, with the
number by which it is known; and if a reservation, the quantity contained
in it, and the name of the reserve. The Field Notes of all the lines of
each tract must be complete, and are to be entered in the Field Book
separately from the notes on other tracts. The Field Notes of Private
Claims and Indian Reservations, must be entered in separate books.
OF FIELD NOTES.
1. The field books are all to be made of one uniform size, viz:
foolscap octavo; or a sheet of common sized cap paper, folded into sixteen
pages. The paper must be of good quality, and the books covered with
morocco or other leather, and neatly stitched and trimmed, and containing
space enough for all the field notes of a township. The pages are to be
ruled with red ink, and feint lined.
2. Wherever a section or township line intersects a line on a private
claim, or Indian reservation, there a corner must be established. The
particular line intersected, with its course and the name of the claimant
or reservee, with the number or other designation by which it is known,
must be noted. And from such intersection, the private claim or reserve
line must be carefully measured, each way along said line, to the end
thereof, unless it should be intersected by another section or township
line before the end be reached.
3. The course of every line of the survey of a private claim or Indian
reservation, with the length thereof, and the variation of the compass,
and date of the survey, are to be inserted in the Field Notes, which are
to be certified and signed by you.
2. On the first page of your field book of each township, insert in a
plain and neat manner, by way of title, the number of the township and
range, with the state or territory in which it lies, and by whom surveyed,
with the date of the commencement, and the date of completing the
subdivision of the same.
3. On the fourth page, draw a plan or diagram of the township, on a
scale of two miles to an inch. [On the page, "two" is crossed, "miles"
its "s" crossed out, and the word "one" is written in the margin.] On
this diagram you will accurately delineate, as near as may be practicable
by ocular observation on the spot, as you progress with the work, the
crossing and courses of all streams of water, the intersection, situation,
and boundaries of all prairies, marshes, swamps, lakes, and all other
things mentioned in your field notes, the situation of which can be
conveniently shewn [sic] on the diagram. You will also insert
thereon, in small figures, the length of the section lines closing out to
the north and west boundaries of the townships.
4. At the head of each subsequent page, on which the field notes are
written, you will insert a running title, designating the number of the
township and range, which is to be separated from the field notes by a
double red line.
5. The Field Notes of the surveys furnish primarily, the
materials from which the plats and calculations of the public lands are
made; and the source from whence the description and evidence of the
location and boundaries of those surveys are drawn and perpetuated. It is
evidently, then, of the utmost importance that the Field Notes should be,
at once, an accurate, clear and minute record of every thing that is done
by the Surveyor and his assistants, (in accordance with these [excerpt
In establishing Corners in prairie, or other places, where there
are no trees to make bearings of, the mounds are the only marks or
monuments by which to find the corners, after the post are gone. These
mounds are to be made large and well covered with sod. And the
more readily to distinguish them from anthills, etc.; you will make the
mounds at the section corners of earth taken from one pit, and directly
south of the mound. And those at the quarter section post of earth
taken from a pit directly east thereof; noting in each case the
distance of the pit from the post. And when the situation of the ground
will not admit of taking the earth for the mound from the South or East
sides thereof; as directed, note in your field book the course and
distance of such pits from the posts.