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Geo. A. Ogle and Co. / Standard atlas of Manitowoc County, Wisconsin
(1921)

Analysis of the system of United States land surveys,   pp. I-II PDF (2.5 MB)


Page I


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                                            METES AND BOUNDS
- P to the time of the Revolutionary War, or until about the beginning of
the present century, land, when parcelled out, and
      sold or granted, was described by "Metes and Bounds," and"
thatsystem is still in existence in the following States, or in
      those portions of them which h   been sold or granted when the present
plan of surveys was adopted, viz.: New York,
      Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, rirginia, North and South
Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas,
and the six New England States. To describe land by "Metes and Bounds,"
is to have a known land-mark for a place of beginning,
and then follow a line according to the compass-needle, (or magnetic bearing),
or the course of a stream, or track of an ancient high-
way. This plan has resulted in endless confusion and litigation, as land-marks
decay and change, and it is a well-known fact that
the compass-needle varies and does not always point due North.
   As an example of this p lan of dividing lands, the following description
of a farm laid out by "Metes and Bounds," is given:
 Beginning at a stone on the Bank of Doe River, at a point where the highway
from A. to B. crosses said river (see point marked C.
 on Diagram 1); thence 40'. North of West 100 rods to a large stump; thence
100 North of West 90 rods; thence 150 West of North 80
 rods to an oak tree (see Witness Tree on Diagram 1); thence due East 150
rods to the highway; thence following the course of the
 highway 50 rods due North; thence 50 North of East 90 rods, thence 450 East
of South 60 rods; thence 100 North of East 200 rods
 to the Doe River; thence following the course of the river Southwesterly
to the place of beginning." This, which is a very simple
 and moderate description by "Metes and Bounds," would leave the
boundaries of the farm as shown in Diagram 1.
MERIDIANS AND BASE LINES
                            DIAGRAM 2
PACIFIC SANDARND .......................................       CENTRAL SAtA4RD
T'IME ,               "A;WJrTEV'A    A
         Oler. ---gorN~~
    10I
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- - -  . .    -----        -           ha'a roo Ma.. ia nni.A qp.,cn p io
,no,.ljaA with its nro nenu.,imberoriname
T  HE present system of Governmental Land Surveys was adoptea Dy yCongress
on tne
    7th of May, 1785.  It has been in use ever since and is the legal method
of de-
    'scribing and dividing lands. It is called the "Rectangular System,"
that is, all
    its distances and bearings are measured from two lines which are at right
angles
to each other, viz.:+. These two lines, from which the measurements are made,
are
the Principal Meridians, which run North and South, and the Base Lines which
run
East and West. These Principal Meridians are established, with great accuracy.
Each
Principal Meridian has its Base Line, and these two lines form the basis
or foundation
for the surveys or measurement of all the lands within the territory which
they control.
    Diagram 2 shows all of the Principal Meridians and Base iines in the
United States,
e.1 f.. r- m +itthet erritorv y overned by each Meridian and Base Line may
be readily
    Diagram 3 illustrates what is meant when this method is termed the "Rectangular
System," and how the measurements are based on lines which run at right
angles
to each other. The heavy line running North and South (marked A. A.) on Diagam
3,
represents the Principal Meridian, in this case say the 5thPrincipal Meridian.
The heavy
line running East and West (marked B. B.) is the Base Line. These lines are
used as
the starting points or basis of all measurements or surveys made in territory
controlled
by the 5th Principal Meridian. The same fact applies .to all other Principal
Meridians
and their Base Lines. Commencing at the Principal Meridian, at intervals
of six miles,
lines are run North and South, parallel to the Meridian. This plan is followed
both
East' and Wet of the Meridian throughout the trritory controlled- by the
Meridian.
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