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Title: The Government Land Survey
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In the first Congress of the United States, a committee of three was appointed to devise a method of laying off the public lands for settlement. Thomas Jefferson was the chairman of this committee and for this reason it is known as the Jefferson system of land surveying.

In all the new states and territories the land owned by the general government is surveyed and sold under this general system. In the state of Indiana, several offices, each under the direction of a surveyor general, were established by acts of Congress and the districts assigned them. The general office for the surveys of all public lands in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin was located at Cincinnati. In the surveys meridian lines were first established running north from some prominent place. These are intersected at right angles with lines running east and west called baselines. There are five principle meridians in the land surveys of the West. The first and second of which are connected with the land surveys of Indiana. The first principle meridian is a line due north on the eastern boundary of the state fromt he mouth of the Great Miami river. The second principle meridian line is a line due north from a point on the Ohio river nine degrees and twenty-nine seconds from Washington. From these principle meridians with their corresponding base lines the country is divided into townships of six miles square, which are subdivided into sections of one mile square or 640 acres each; and these are again divided into quarter sections of 160 acres each. These divisions are designated by the surveyor by appropriate marks by which can easily be distinguished from each other. If near timber, trees are marked and numbered with the section, township, range, near each section corner. If in a prairie, a mound is raised to designate the corner; and a billet of charred wood buried if no rock is near. Ranges are townships counted as east or west from principles meridians. Townships are counted either north of south from their respective base line, as township 22 north, range 7 west. Sections or square miles are numbered beginning in the northeast corner of the township with No.1, progressively west to the range line, numbered 6, and then below 7 progressively east to the range line is 12 and so on alternately, terminating at the southeast corner of the township with 36.

In the state of Indiana there were seven districts with offices attached to each open for sale and entry of public lands as follows: The Cincinnati district embraced all lands east of the old Indian boundaries, viz: beginning where the old Indian line strikes the Ohio river in range 13 east, thence with it N.N.E. to where it intersects the other Indian line in section 23 T-11 R-13 east, thence S.W. with another line in section 33, T-10, R-11, E., thence with the line N.N.NE. to its bend in section 11, R-13, E., and thence N.E. towards Fort Recovery to where it intersects the Ohio state line is section 36, T-23, R-15, E.

The Jeffersonville district, commencing on the Ohio river, is bounded on the west by the second principle meridian as far north as the line between townships 9 and 10 norht, thence east with the line between townships 9 and 10 until it makes the Indian boundary line on the south side of section 33,T-10 R-11, E., thence being the Cincinnati line with the Indian line northwesterly to the junction of the Indian line, thence to a line in range 13 on the river to the beginning.

Then came the Vincennes district, which embraced all the lands west and south of the following line, beginning on the Ohio where the second meridian first leaves the same thence north with the meridian line until it is intersected in section 1, T-9, R-1, W., by the old Indian line, thence with the old Indian boundary northwesterly until it intersects the Illinois state line and township 16 north.

The Indianapolis District, then the Ft. Wayne district and then the La Porte district, and then the lands in the Crawfordsville district. In the body of the old deeds for land in this locality used to be written, "in that body of land offered for entry at the land office in Crawfordsville," and we are more directly interested in this than any other. It was included in the lines beginning on the Illinois state line where the Indiana line strikes it in township 16, thence southeast with the Vincennes line on the Indiana boundary to intersect withy the meridian lines in section 1, township 9, range 1 west, thence north with the meridian line to the corner of townships 9 and 10. Thence east with the line between townships 9 and 10, range 1 east, thence north with the line between ranges 1 and 2 east of the northeast angle of township 26, range 1 east, thence west between townships 26 and 27 to the Illinois state line and thence with the Illinois state line to the beginning.

To get the entry of the lands within this line on had to refer to the books then in Crawfordsville. The entry of the land in this district made Crawfordsville the center not only of population but of everything pertaining to the early settlement of the county. The counties of Parke and Vermillion were surveyed and open to entry much earlier than Fountain and Warren counties. For some cause the first lands open for entry in Fountain and Warren counties were in ranges 6 and 7. The first settlers came up the river and old Maysville was on the range line numbered 6, so was Newtown and Wallace, and Hillsboro was very close to it. Wallace, Hillsboro, Newtown, and Maysville were built on this line because of it being open to settlement first. And strange as it may seem, the land takes up six miles west from the Fountain county line and three miles west and three miles east of range 6 west, clear across Fountain and Warren counties and for quite a little distance up into Benton countir was entered by people of Quaker descent who were all realted by blood or marriage. Many of the descendants still live along the line of the land their grandparents and great-grandparents took up from the government.

As the tide of emigrants flowed into Fountain county they came in two ways. Many came up the Wabash as did Peter Weaver and his son, but there were many others that came by wagons accross the state, some of them having come the entire distance from their old homes in eastern states in this manner following the old trail through Strawtown and Thorntown, thence to Crawfordsville and on to this vicinity. The record of land entries for all this section was made at Crawfordsville and the records still preserved there. The entries indicate that the land was opened up by ranges or strips six miles wide and extending at least the length of two connties. The land comprising what is now Fountain and Warren counties was taken up rapidly. It began in 1832 and within ten years all the best land was taken, altho occasional entries were made as late as 1840. Peter Weaver, it will be recalled, bought his land from the Burnetts, who had received it as an Indian grant. It was only by this means that he got in ahead of the survey.

The land survey found in Fountain and Warren counties was a poor one and has resulted in much trouble and inconvience to land owners and surveyors. The government surveyor most of this section thot the land would never be taken up and there is a story that has been handed down for nearly a hundred years to the effect that he and his crew were drunk most of the time while making the survey. Possibly they kept their hides full of whiskey as a protection against the Wabash argue so prevalent in those days, but whether this was true or not the fact remained that their work was very carelessly and inaccurately done.

It was in this first land rush that Maysville spring into being and reach its greatest importance. Cicott's trading post at Independence was naturally the headquarters for the first settlers who came to the vicinity but the presence of so many lazy pilfering Indians, who when drunk made life about the place miserable, resulted in the erection of Maysville about a mile up the river and on the opposite side. Within a short time there were stores, a hotel, and a bank- the first to be opened in Fountain county. I shall tell of this in more detail later in a separate article. Maysville was located just west of where Riverside now is and all that remains to mark the site is a few stunted cedar and apple trees and some of the niggerheads which were used as foundation stones under the houses.

Date: 1/1/1916
Origin: Historical Sketches of the Wabash Valley
Author: J. Wesley Whicker
Record ID: 00001138
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Entered By: Amber M Knipe

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