GLO Notes Manuscript

General Land Office Research

Department of Landscape Architecture

Iowa State University 

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 GLO Notes Manuscript

glonote5.gif (66326 bytes)This is an example of the original manuscript version of the survey notes written by GLO deputy surveyors in the field.  The surveyors used ink pens and leather-bound field books made specifically for their work.  Their hand writing was rather florid and ornamental by today's standards.  That, along with abbreviations and creative spelling,  makes it difficult to read.  Mosquitoes were no help either ("too many mosquitos [sic] for taking notes" P. Kent, July 31, 1837, T68N R5W (Lee County)).  Fortunately, the Federal and state governments joined together in the 1930s to fund a project to type the notes using manual typewriters.  This work was part of a jobs program called the Works Progress Administration (WPA).  The WPA typists worked in the Secretary of State's office in Des Moines.  The typescript form of the notes that resulted from the WPA project is much easier to read.

In the example below, the field notes were written by GLO deputy surveyor Perrin Kent.  The township he was surveying is identified as Tier 69 North and Range 07 West.  This township would later become part of Lee County, Iowa (the northwest corner of the county).  Kent completed his survey of this township on September 23, 1837 (a few days after he surveyed the section lines described in the example field notes below).

Kent surveyed approximately 15 townships in Iowa for the GLO.  All are located in Des Moines and Lee Counties.  We can safely assume that Kent was one of the more experienced GLO surveyors who worked in Iowa because (in addition to surveying township subdivisions) he also surveyed township exterior lines.  According to Original Instructions Governing Public Land Surveys of Iowa (Iowa Engineering Society, Ames) by J.S. Dodds (1943, p. 198), Kent surveyed town lines for approximately 10 townships in southeast Iowa.  Town line surveys came first.  They provided the framework for the later surveys of township subdivisions.  For more information about GLO surveying practice, see A Guide to Understanding, Interpreting, and Using the Public Land Survey Field Notes, Natural Areas Journal 8(4):245-255, by Max Hutchinson (1988).  QH76 J68

t69r07ps.gif (83733 bytes)Page 170 of Kent's field notes describes the one-mile section line between sections 8 and 9. Page 171 describes the one-mile section line between sections 4 and 9.  Click the township map on the left to enlarge it.  The two one-mile section lines described by the notes below are highlighted in yellow on the map.


          T69N R07W 5 Mer
 C.L   North on the line between
          Sections 8 & 9
  6.73 Enter scattering timber NW
30.15 Brook 32 lks course East
33.75 Pond 75 lks
37.00 Brook 5 lks coursed N
39.66 Elm 4 in dia
40.00 Set post for qr Section
          W Ash 8 S66W - 16
          Maple 12 N1E 15
42.75 Brook 6 lks SE
46.36 Hickory 6 in dia
60.00 leave bottom & ascend ridge W
80.00 Set post corner for
          Sections 4, 5, 8  9
          Bur Oak 24 N29W 66
          Span Oak 20 S87E 96
          Land Broken 2nd rate
          Hickory Bur Oak W Oak
          Elm Blk Oak Hazle


                 V 8 30'
          T69N R07W 5 Mer
 C.L   East random on
          the line between Sections
          4 & 9
  5.00 Descend hill to bottom
14.50 Brook 50 course North
29.15 Do       4 course NW
44.50 Cabbin North 5 chs occup
           ied by John Henderson
60.50 Enter Prairie SW & NW
61.78 Enter field N & S
80.56 Intersection of post
          Land on creek 2nd rate
          Ballance of timbr[?] west
          of P. 3rd rate -- White Oak
          Hickory S Oak Bur
          Oak Lynn Walnut &c
          West corrected on this
          Line between Sections 4 & 9
38.66 Bur Oak 18 in dia
40.28 Set quarter section post
          Bur Oak 12 N58E 17
          Do          12 S53E 31
80.56 Section corner
                  20th [?] Septr 1837

Last update:  19 June 2002