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Hennessey and Company / Standard atlas of Walworth County, Wisconsin : including a plat book of the villages, cities and townships of the county, patrons directory, reference business directory and departments devoted to general information analysis of the system of U.S. land surveys
(1907)

Analysis of the system of United States Land Surveys


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'l These lines are termed "Range Lines."  They divide the land into strips or divisions ,;x miles wide, extending North and South, parallel with the Meridian.
Each division is called a Range. Ranges are numbered from one upward, comm    cing at the Meridian; and their numbers are indicated by Roman
characters. For instance, the first division (or first six miles5 west of the Meridian ib Range 1. West; the next is Range II. West; then comes Range III.,
IV., V., VI., VII., and so on, until the territory governed by another Principal Meridian is reached. In the same manner the Ranges East of the Meridian
are numbered, the words East or West being always used to indicate the direction from the Principal Meridian. See Diagram 3.
Commencing at the Base Line, at intervals of six miles, lines are run East and West parallel with the Base Lie. These are designated as Township
Lines. They divide the land into strips or divisions six miles wide, extending East and West, parallel with the Base Line. This plan is followed both
North and South of the Base Line until the territory governed by another Principal Meridian and Base Line is reached. These divisions or Townships are
numbered from one upward, both North and South of the Base Line, and their numbers are indicated by figures. For instance: The first six mile division
, orth of the Base Line is Township 1 North; the next is Township 2 North; then comes Township 3, 4, 5, and 6, North, and so on. The same plan is
followed South of the Base Line; the Townships being designated as Township 1 South, Township 2 South, and so on. The "'North" or "South" (the
initials N. or S. being generally used) indicates the direction from the Base Line. See Diagram 3.
These Township and Range Lines, crossing each other, as shown in Diagram 3, form squares, which are called "Townships" or "Government Townships,"
which are six miles square, or as nearly that as it is possible to make them. These Townships are a very important feature in locating or describing i piece
of land. The location of a Governnent Township, however, is very readily found when the number of the Township and Range is given, by merely
.counting the number indicated from the Base Line and Principal Meridian. As an example of this, Township 8 North, Range 4, West of the 5th Principal
Meridian, is at once located on the square marked * on Diagram 3, by counting eight tiers north of the Base Line and 4 tiers west of the Meridian.
TOWNSHIPS_OF LAND.
'O WNSHIPS are the largest sub-
r      '  ivisions of land run out by the
United States Surveyors.  In the
Governmental Surveys Township
Lines are the first to be run, and a Township
Corner is established every six miles and
marked. This is called "Townshipping."
After the Township Corners have been care-
fullylocated,the Section and Quarter Section
Corners are established. Each Township is
six miles square and contains 23,040 acres,
or 36 square miles, as near as it is possible
to make them.     This, however, is fre-
quently made impossible by: (1st) the pres.
enee orflakes and'large dtreams; (2nd) by
State boundaries not falling exactly on
Township Lines; (3rd) by the convergence
of Meridians or curvature of the earth's
surface; and (4th) by ;naccurate surveys.
Each Township, unless it is one of the
exceptional cases referred to, is divided
into 36 squares, which are called Sections.
These Sections are intended to be one
mile, or 320 rods, square and contain 640
acres of land. Sections are numbered
consecutively from 1 to 36, as shown on
Diagram 4. Beginning with Section 1 in
the Northeast Corner, they run West to
6, then East to 12, then West to 18, and
so on, back and forth, until they end with
Section 36 in the Southeast Corner.
Diagram 4 shows a plat of a Township
U6 it is divided and platted by the govern-
ment surveyors.   These Townships tre
called Government Townships or Congres-
sional Townships, to distinguish them from
Civil Townships or organized Townships,
as frequently the lines of organized Town-
ships do not conform to the Government
Township lines.
SECTIONS OF LAND.
DIAGM
IAGRAM 5 illustrates how a section     ,   . -.-                     I
may be subdivided, although the    "I   2--i
Diagram  only gives a few of the j      S,. I
many subdivisions into   which  a
section  may be divided.    All Sections
(except fractional Sections) are supposed to be 320 rods, or one mile, square and therefore
contain 640 acres-a number easily divisible. Sections are subdivided into fractional parts to suit
the convenience of the owners of the land. A half-section contains 320 acres; a quarter-section
contains 160 acres; half of a quarter contains 80 acres, and quarter of a quarter contains 40 acres,
and so on. Each piece of land is described according to the portion of the section which it
embraces-as the Northeast quarter of Section 10; or the Southeast quarter of the Southeast
q uarter of Section 10. Diagram 5 shows how many of these subdivisions are platted, and also
owsthe plan of designating and describing them  by initial letters as each parcel of land on the
Diagram is marked with its description.
As has already been stated, all Sections (except Fractional Sections which are explained else-
where) are supposed to contain 640 acres, and even though mistakes have been made in surveying,
as is frequently the case, making sections larger or smaller than 640 acres, the Government recog-
nizes no variation, but sells or grants each regular section as containing 640 acres "more or less."
The Government Surveyors are not required to subdivide sections by running lines within
them, but they usually establish Quarter Posts on Section Lines on each side of a section at the
noints marked A. B. C. and D. on Diagram 5.    After establishing Township corners, Section
Lines are the next to be run, and section cor-
ners are established. When these are carefully
DIAGRA         5.               located the Quarter Posts are located at points as
nearly equidistant between Section Corners as
possible.  These corners when established by
Government Surveyors cannot be changed, even
though it is conclusively shown that mistakes
have been made which cause some sections or
N. E. 114           quarter sections to be either larger or smaller
(ii                                than others.- The laws, however, of all the
ccStates provide certain rules for local surveyors
to follow in dividing. Sections into smaller
0arcels of land than has been outlined in the
o                        160                overnmental surveys. For instance, in divid-
co                                 ing a quarter section into two parcels, the dis-
.1/                                ance between the Government Corners is care-
fully measured and the new post is located at a
80 A.            point equidistant between them. This plan is
t.  of S.W. E.                    followed in running out "eighties," "forties,"
s..     S."E./4       "twenties," etc. In this way, if the Govern-
(2A.    t of S. E.'Y  ment division overruns or falls short, each
portion gains or loses its proportion.  This is
of S E. 34
kA to A.)    40 A.       not the case, however, with Fractional Sections
SUBDMDfIG       A  SECTION.            along the North or West sides of a Township,
or adjoining a lake or large stream.
DIAGRAM 3,
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Vi    v IV III tj   I    InI   I   IV  V
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1                   0
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EAM  4,                                              02
 i                     -                                                  AIS  L A IN
0_ __    0              ..8.      04 *  A.  g- - - -  - - -    - -  - - -  - -
3               2               a             --------------------
Vl~~ T iY iU                        £ Ii n 1  i
S to12                                      FRACTIONAL PIECES OF LAND.
C    ONGRESSIONAL       Townships vary
10  t considerably as to size and boundaries.
Mistakes made in surveying and the
fact that Meridians converge as they
run North cause every Township to vary
14                           more or less from the 23,040 acres which a
perfect Township   would  contain.  See
Diagram 4. In arranging a Township into
Sections all the surplus or deficiency of land
is given to, or taken from, the North and
West tiers of Sections. In other words, all
Sections in the Township are made full-
640 acres-except those on the North and
t4West, which are given all the land that is
left after forming the other 25 Sections.
TIBE          Diagram 4 illustrates how the surplus or
defir:ency is distributed and the Sections it
f,'ects. It will be seen that Sections 1, 2,
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 18, 19, 30 and 31, are the
"Fractional Sections," or the Sections
which are affected if the Township overruns
22625                                or falls short. Inside of these Fractional
Sections, all of the surplus or deficiency of
land (over or under 640 acres) is carried to
the "forties" or "'eighties" that touch the
Township Line. These pieces of land are
called "Fractional Forties" or "Fractional
Eighties," as the case may be. Diagrams 4
34a6and 6 show the manner of marking the
acreage and outlining the boundaries of
these "Fractions."
Diagram 6 illustrates how the surplus or
deficiency of land inside of these Sections is
distributed and which "forties"or "eighties"
it affects. From this arrangement it will be
seen that in any Section that touches the North or West Township Lines, the Southeast Quarter may
be full-160 acres-while another quarter of the same Section may be much larger or smaller.
Frequently these fractional "forties" or "eighties" are lotted as shown in Diagram 6. They are
always described as fractional tracts of land, as the "fractional S. W. 4 of Section 6," etc. Of course
those portions of these Sections which are not affected by these variations are described in the usual
manner-as Southeast j of Section 6. As a rule Townships are narrower at the North than at the
South side. The*Meridians of Longitude (which run North and South) converge as they run North
and South from the Equator. They begin at the Equator with a definite width between them and
gradually converge until they all meet at the poles. Now, as the Range lines are run North and South,
it will at once be seen that the convergence of Meridians will cause every Congressional Township
(North of the Equator) to be narrower at its North than at its South side, as stated. See Diagram
4. In addition to this fact, mistakes of measurement are constantly and almost unavoidably made
in running both Township and Range
lines, and if no new starting points
were established  the lines would                     DIAGRAM        6.
become confused and unreliable, and           R.
the size and shape of Townships             LoT 4.   Lot 3.     LOT 2.     .oT 1.
materially affected by the time the
surveys had extended even a hundred                i   85         83       o80.5
miles from the Base Line and Princi-       62 AC. o A
pal Meridian. In order to correct                   ACRES.      ACRES.     ACRES.
the surveys and variations caused           53 R.
by the difference of latitude and          LOT 5.
straighten  the lines, "'Correction
Lines" (or Guide Meridians and             29 AC.                   Q  ACRES.,
Standard Parallels) are established at        A     ACRES.             AC
frequent intervals, usually as follows:CD8R           sR0
North of the Base Line a Correction           R.       SO R    _
Line is run East and West parallel        LOT 6.                     160 Rods.
with the Base Line, usually every         4   A
twenty-four miles.  South of the          32 AC.
Base Line a Correction Line is usually                 cc
established every thirty miles. Both        PB.        U           160 ACRES.
East and West of the Principal            LOT 7.      <0
Meridian "Correction  Lines" are                       0
usually established every 48 miles.       37 AC.,      OD
All Correction Lines are located by
careful measurement, and the suc-          74 R.     80 Rods.         160 Rods.
ceeding surveys are  based  upon           PLAT OF A FRACTIONAL SECTION.
them.
ENTERED ACCORDING TO ACT OF CONGRESS. IN THE YEAR  BY GEO. A.. OGLE  C.O. It THE OFFICE OF THE LIBARIAN OF CONGRESS AT WASHINGTON. D. C.
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