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Transcription contributed by Martie Callihan 24 November 2004

The History of Warren County Ohio
Part III. The History of Warren County by Josiah Morrow
Chapter III. Explorations - Surveys - Land Grants
(Chicago, IL: W. H. Beers Co, 1882; reprint, Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, 1992)


No part of Warren County, except the few sections west of the Great Miami, had the benefit of the beautiful and admirable system of public land surveys now followed by the United States Government The original surveys of both the Virginia Military District and the Miami Purchase were defective, the former without any system whatever; uncertainty, confusion

statute which required the breadth of each survey to be at least one-third of its length in every part, unless the breadth was restricted by mountains, water-courses or previous locations. In consequence of this want of system, there were interferences and encroachments of one land entry upon another, and great difficulty is to day experienced in tracing titles in this district.

Symmes' Purchase was laid out in ranges, townships and sections somewhat in the manner of the present system of Government surveys, but in a defective manner. The sections were numbered in a different manner. The north and south lines were run by the compass and not by the true meridian. All the north and south section and township lines between the Miami River vary from the meridian about five degrees, which was the variation of the magnetic needle at the close of the last century.

Sections were numbered thus between the Miami Rivers:

36 30 24 18 12 6
35 29 23 17 11 5
34 28 22 16 10 4
33 27 21 15 9 3
32 26 20 14 8 2
31 25 19 13 7 1

West of the Great Miami, the lines were run and the sections numbered according to the present system of surveying public lands. The lands between the Miamis were not surveyed by the General Government, but under the terms of the sale of the Miami Purchase, by the direction and at the expense of Judge Symmes and his associates.

Sections were numbered thus west of the Great Miami:

6 5 4 3 2 1
7 8 9 10 11 12
18 17 16 15 14 13
19 20 21 22 23 24
30 29 28 27 26 25
31 32 33 34 35 36

If the reader will carefully observe a recent map of Warren County, drawn on a large scale, he cannot fail to notice the zig-zag course of the section lines running east and west. The history of the plan of survey adopted by Symnes gives a satisfactory explanation of this feature of the map. For the most part, only the north and south lines were run by the original surveyors, and stakes were planted for the section corners, the subsequent purchasers being left to run the east and west lines connecting the corners. At the commencement of the survey, the principal surveyor was directed to run a line east and west from one Miami Rivor to the other for a base line. This base line was placed so far north as to avoid the most northern bend of the Ohio, and is only seven miles south of the southern boundary of Deerfield Township. Along this base line

stakes were planted at the termination of every mile. The assistant surveyors, of whom there was a considerable number, then ran north and south lines by the compass from these stakes. Along these lines stakes were also planted at the termination of every mile for section corners, and the purchasers were left to complete the survey by running, at their own expense, lines east and west to connect the section corners.

An examination of a large map of the county will show the further fact that in the third or military range, the east-and-west lines do not present the zigzag appearance to be seen in other ranges. It appears that, for some reason, Judge Symmes directed his surveyors not to place stakes at the termination of each mile in running the meridian lines through this range. Gen. Jonathan Dayton after ward employed Israel Ludlow to complete the survey of this range.

The result of this imperfect method of survey was that hardly any section in the whole purchase contains the proper quantity of land; and except in the third range, hardly a section has two of its corners on the same east-and-west line. Some sections are too large, and some too small. Section No. 31, in the fourth range, adjoining on the north one of the four sections on which Lebanon is laid out, instead of 640 acres, which it was intended to contain, measures about 840 acres. Other sections fall far short of the required amount of land. After these irregularities were found out and complained of, and litigation had arisen concerning corners of sections, Judge Symmes endeavored to correct the evil by carefully re-measuring one of the meridians and setting up new stakes from which purchasers were to determine their corners. But this would have altered every original corner, and resulted in still greater confusion. The Supreme Court of the State confirmed the old corners.

An act of Congress passed March 3, 1801, provided that the lands between the Miami Rivers which Symmes had failed to pay for, and which lie between the northern boundary of his patent and the seventh range, should be divided into sections by the Surveyor General, and both northwardly and southwardly, and eastwardly and westwardly lines should be run, but, in so doing, the magnetic meridians run under the direction of Symmes, and the corners established in his survey, were to be recognized,

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