divided into sections. enlarge
Surveys of the United States
of the land surveys conducted in the original thirteen colonies were not
standardized. These early surveys included little information on vegetation
or other natural features. The need for a more systematic and reliable
land survey grew with westward expansion following the Revolutionary War.
The federal government needed a way to parcel out and describe the location
of lands for sale to settlers. The settlers needed to be able to locate
and document their claims accurately.
the Continental Congress of the United States established the General Land
Office through which land was sold, and the Office of the Surveyor General,
which was responsible for surveying the land. A commission devised a new
plan for locating, describing, and parceling out lands. Thomas Jefferson
was a member of the commission that prepared this plan. The plan stipulated
that lands be surveyed prior to settlement and that the surveys be conducted
in a consistent and standardized manner.
another act of Congress directed that territory be surveyed into townships,
six miles square, which were bounded by lines running true north and south,
and east and west. Each township was to be divided into 36 sections, one
square mile each, by lines running north, south, east and west. The sections
were numbered from one to thirty-six. Instructions to surveyors directed
them to describe vegetation and the general character of the land they
surveyed in greater detail.
survey of Illinois began in 1804 at the southern tip of the state. It worked
its way north and was finished in 1855. Land surveys in Illinois involved
surveying forest and prairies. Trees played an important part in surveying.