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Odd 19th Century Usage in Field Notes

Discussion in 'General Land Surveying' started by Kent McMillan, May 9, 2013.

  1. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    You never know what's going to pop up when you examine a set of field notes written in 19th century Texas. So many of the surveyors were from somewhere else and they often brought some of the practices from that elsewhere with them.

    The surveyor who drew this memorable North arrow on the inset sketch on the face of the field notes he filed in the Texas GLO also used a term I've never seen before.

    [​IMG]

    His description runs along a line to a monument on that line that he calls a "designation point", giving bearing tree calls to identify it. It isn't a witness corner in that in several cases where the designation point occurs, there are also marked corners called for at the terminals. Generally, he wrote an excellent and detailed metes and bounds description, unusually detailed for the time, in fact. Is "designation point" a term used in 19th century surveying that anyone else is familiar with?
     
  2. Dave Ingram

    Dave Ingram 5-Year Member

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    Have not seen that before. Posting the entire description might help with context.

    But from what you have described sort of sounds like a point on line - a semi-random traverse station if you will. Or perhaps an adjacent property corner that exists from a prior grant.
     
  3. Pablo

    Pablo 4-Year Member

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    North arrow is interesting and simple. But that splat in the Northerly corner of the sketch is scat from possible one of the many known diseased insects of Texas. Did the surveyor die in Texas or did he survive and get a chance to escape?

    Pablo B-)
     
  4. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    > Have not seen that before. Posting the entire description might help with context.

    In the context of the description, a "designation point" is merely a mark on line. "Rock mound set on line" or "stake on line", both with bearing tree calls would be exactly equivalent in meaning in the context of the description. In effect, the surveyor was designating that his line ran through that exact point, thus introducing a possible angle point, but the terminology is unusual. When I get a chance, I'll run him through ancestry.com to see where he came from.
     
  5. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    > North arrow is interesting and simple. But that splat in the Northerly corner of the sketch is scat from possible one of the many known diseased insects of Texas. Did the surveyor die in Texas or did he survive and get a chance to escape?

    Those field notes passed through many hands before ending up in the mylar-jacketed files of the present day GLO. That stain could as likely have come from the drafting room of the GLO where the notes were examined. The sketch of the survey was drawn at a scale of 1' = 2000', by the way. The idea in theory was that it made determining how it fit into the jigsaw puzzle of land grants that were filling up a particular county map a bit easier.
     
  6. Robert Hill

    Robert Hill 5-Year Member

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    looks like BBQ sauce. :-|
     
  7. Kris Morgan

    Kris Morgan 5-Year Member

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    > You never know what's going to pop up when you examine a set of field notes written in 19th century Texas. So many of the surveyors were from somewhere else and they often brought some of the practices from that elsewhere with them.
    >
    > The surveyor who drew this memorable North arrow on the inset sketch on the face of the field notes he filed in the Texas GLO also used a term I've never seen before.
    >
    > [​IMG]
    >
    > His description runs along a line to a monument on that line that he calls a "designation point", giving bearing tree calls to identify it. It isn't a witness corner in that in several cases where the designation point occurs, there are also marked corners called for at the terminals. Generally, he wrote an excellent and detailed metes and bounds description, unusually detailed for the time, in fact. Is "designation point" a term used in 19th century surveying that anyone else is familiar with?

    I've seen some odd verbiage in patent notes. I agree that it was probably a hold over from another venue. Many surveyors perished in the Civil War, and came from afar to locate land in Texas as you are aware.

    However, with this context, it would seem that you are following a learned individual, and I wonder how many scripts the man was locating in the area. Or, was this his attempt at an "initial point" for location of many many grants and all of the others are tied to it as well, like he was in the middle of nowhere with no tracts to tie to.

    Or it could be his way of saying "BEGINNING". I find that when following certain old surveyors, then used 10 words when 2 would suffice.
     
  8. RFB

    RFB 5-Year Member

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    That line to the right of the north arrow must be the bearing basis.
     
  9. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    > Or, was this his attempt at an "initial point" for location of many many grants and all of the others are tied to it as well, like he was in the middle of nowhere with no tracts to tie to.

    No, the "designation points" were all just what appear to be incidental points on line, but with bearing trees to identify them.
     
  10. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    > That line to the right of the north arrow must be the bearing basis.

    Actually, one interesting detail of that sketch is that it shows Survey No. 319 oriented approximately to magnetic North, which apparently it was. The 1847 surveyor who located No. 319 stated that he'd run the lines with his compass adjusted for a variation of 9°45'E, however. You see this infrequently in 19th century Texas surveying, but it happened.
     
  11. RADAR

    RADAR 5-Year Member

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    Merriam Webster defines Designation as: the act of indicating or identifying

    Maybe he was simply indicating or identifying points he had set on line, in areas with ample reference points. Therefore making it easy for future surveyors to follow in his footsteps....
     
  12. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    > The sketch of the survey was drawn at a scale of 1' = 2000', by the way.

    Make that 1"= 4000 varas. Must be Friday.
     
  13. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    > Maybe he was simply indicating or identifying points he had set on line, in areas with ample reference points. Therefore making it easy for future surveyors to follow in his footsteps.

    Yes, I'm reasonably certain that was the purpose of his intermediate monuments set on various lines. The novelty is his use of the term "designation point".
     
  14. Larry Best

    Larry Best 4-Year Member

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    I know nothing of the Public Lands Surveying you are discussing, but I do know a picture of a chicken when I see one.
     
  15. Paul in PA

    Paul in PA 5-Year Member

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    "Designate" To Mark Out Or Make Known from Black's

    "Designation" the act of pointing out by marks of description.

    Perhaps he was a lawyer.

    Paul in PA
     
  16. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    > I know nothing of the Public Lands Surveying you are discussing, but I do know a picture of a chicken when I see one.

    Yes, that coffee or tobacco juice stain does look more than a little like a chicken on the run.
     
  17. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    "Designate" To Mark Out Or Make Known from Black's

    > "Designation" the act of pointing out by marks of description.
    >
    > Perhaps he was a lawyer.

    But he didn't call the corners of the grant "designation points" as well although they also point out the boundaries in a similar fashion. I think it has to be a regional usage from somewhere other than Texas. I'll have to look that 1875 County Surveyor up in the US Census to see where he might have been from.
     
  18. Kent McMillan

    Kent McMillan 4-Year Member

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    [​IMG]

    For the record, it turns out that the responsible surveyor, Jonathan W. Cummings, was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania in 1824, and so would have been about 51 when he made the survey that produced the field notes in question. I gather that one of his brothers died at the Alamo. Evidently Jonathan was educated in Pennsylvania, so "designation point" may be a usage from either there or Maryland.

    He was the son of a David Cummings, who a local history of Connellsville, Pennsylvania describes this way:

    >David Cummings was a gentleman of classical education, and in early life taught select schools. He was an officer in the army during the War of 1812, and was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Beaver Dam in Canada; with other captive American officers carried to England, where he was held for six months until exchanged, suffering great hardship.

    >After the war he became a mail contractor under the government, and as such first found his way into western Pennsylvania, and eventually settled in Connellsville where he soon became a man of note. He represented Fayette county in the legislature at the sessions of 1823 and 1824, and was the first man in the legislative body who made an effort to establish a general system of education by common schools.

    >Some years thereafter leaving Connellsville, he removed to Mifflin county where he was first engaged in the building of the Pennsylvania canal, from Huntingdon to Lewistown, he afterwards becoming superintendent of the canal, as also collector of the port of Harriburg. He died at Lewistown, February 5, 1848,
     
  19. Holy Cow

    Holy Cow 5-Year Member

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    I have used the term "key point" to designate locations monumented that did not meet the strict definiton of a boundary survey. One example involved locating block and alley corners along one side of a small town street for about three blocks. The adjoining tracts were not fully surveyed, only four critical corners per block, being the northwest corner of the block, the northwest corner of the north-south alley running through the center of the block, the northeast corner of that alley and the northeast corner of the block. Some of these "key points" had found monuments while others required installation of a monument.
     
  20. rochs01

    rochs01 5-Year Member

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    I thought it was a turkey strutting its stuff.
     

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