Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bases, Meridians and Townships, Oh My!

In order to decipher land descriptions found in Michigan deeds it is helpful to understand what system was used to survey the area (Michigan is a "Public Land" State) and how the terms used in that system are defined.

"Public Land" States (as opposed to Metes & Bounds) use terms such as: Base Line (sectionalized land); Guide Meridian, Principal Meridian, (Survey) Township, Range & Range lines, and Section.

Here's a deed I've abstracted from the Lapeer Co., Michigan, Deed Book (Liber) 49 on Page #391. Sylvester P. Marshall was my great-great grandmother's second husband. I've added some links in an attempt to pinpoint the property using the land description.

Lapeer Co., MI, Deed


25 January 1877

Sylvester P. Marshall, Lapeer to Salmon Adams, Lapeer

Witnesses: William North, J.P. & Emma Bunce

Signed by only Sylvester P. Marshall

(Attica Township) SouthEast ¼ of SouthWest ¼ of Section 23 Town 7 North Range 11 East

40 acres

Map marked T 07 North; Range 11 E

A PDF file with the Sections, including Section 23, of Attica Township, Lapeer Co., Michigan

A step-by-step example of using the legal description of a piece of land to find it on a map in Illinois. A graphical display of the Federal Township and Range System can be found here. Another explanation adding that commas are important in land descriptions.

A mural depicting Michigan's Principal Meridian and Base Lines on what was the Surveying Museum in Lansing. The museum was moved to Springfield, Illinois.

Michigan Meridian within a map of United States, putting the Michigan's Principal Meridian in geographical context.

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