Monday: Map Day!

Mequon’s First Survey, 1836-1837

I love maps, all kinds of maps. I especially like comparing various maps of the same area as it changes over time. I have collected a number of maps that illuminate various aspects of Clark family and Clark House history, and I thought I’d start posting some for you all to use and enjoy.

Fortunately, we are in a digital golden age of historical maps, many available for free download and use. Among the best sites are the online map collections at the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. Take some time to click the links and browse.

But today’s map comes from another source, the Bureau of Land Management’s General Land Office website. Previously, we discussed the BLM/GLO as the go-to site for land patent indexes with exact descriptions and images of government land patents issued in the 30 Public Lands States. Click the link to start at the BLM/GLO homepage, then click on “Survey Search.” That will take you to this page:

Notice how “Surveys” is highlighted in black text in the left side column. For a sample search, I’ve entered “Wisconsin” as a state, and the exact town and range numbers for the Town of Mequon (T9N-R21E). Click the orange “Search Surveys” button, and you’ll get this results page:

Click the blue “Original Survey” link, and you’ll land here, on a page with the essential information about the survey transcribed in a standard format:

If you want to see where your selected survey is located within the U.S., click the small checkbox under “Map.” Then click the middle tab, “Plat Image,” and here’s it is, a magnificent digital image of the original township survey map:

Isn’t that beautiful? Click on the map image (above) to open in a new window. Zoom in, scroll around.

The main township lines were surveyed by Mullett & Brink during the first quarter of 1836, on a contract issued on August 17, 1835. The section lines were also mapped in early 1836, by Wm. A. Burt, on a contract dated January 7, 1836. The Surveyor General signed off on the map at his office in Cincinnati, Ohio, on January 13, 1837.

This is Mequon before the white settlers arrived. Many of the earliest Mequon pioneers—including Jonathan M. Clark—settled in or near Sections 3, 4, 9 and 10. Can you locate JMC’s first 80-acre patent? Look for the West 1/2 of the Southeast 1/4 of Section 3.

A year later, Jonathan purchased his second 80-acre patent, the adjacent East 1/2 of the Southeast 1/4 of Section 3. With this purchase, he owned all 160 acres of the Southeast Quarter of Section 3, Town 9-North, Range 21-East of the 4th prime meridian, otherwise known as the Town of Mequon, Washington (later Ozaukee) County, Wisconsin Territory.

You can view these survey maps on the BLM/GLO site and zoom in at very high resolution. And you can download your own copy of the maps in several formats:

  • PDF (decent resolution)
  • JPEG2 (much higher resolution, easily viewable on Macs and many other computers) or
  • SID image (very high resolution raster images that integrate with GIS mapping applications; requires MrSID viewing software, click here for info)

While on the BLM/GLO site, you can also view and download images of the surveyor’s original notes and notebooks. Naturally, these include many measurements and details of survey reference points. But the notebooks also include copious observations of land conditions (wet, dry, swampy, prairie), rivers, lakes, and the types of trees found in each mapped area. If you are interested in what an early settler encountered when he or she bought land from the government and “cleared a settlement,” be sure to read the notebooks. And enjoy the maps!