When doing my research at the Robertson County Archives in Springfield, Tenn., I ran across a treasure amongst their holdings. I was researching property deeds in the early 1800s for my Lawrence Clinard, and happened upon their Robertson County Survey Book 1824-1898 of Tennessee Land Grants. To learn more about Tennessee Land Grants visit: http://www.ancestry.com/wiki/index.php?title=Tennessee_Land_Records
I opened it to find my Lawrence along with his sons, Joseph and John in the survey book…
What’s so great about this survey book is you have the tract drawn out, along with the property description, neighbors on the property boundaries, sometimes mention of land grants and their numbers, and the chain bearers that helped carry the chains for the survey. These were usually family, friends or neighbors so gives you some relationship identity. The surveyors are Anderson Stewart and Thomas Shaw. I’m pretty sure that the Millers were related to Lawrence’s wife, Rosina Miller, but have not been able to prove it yet.
Here’s some old survey information to help you do your calculations…
When deciphering the survey description, the little hand pointer is the “beginning” corner.
1 Acre = 43,560 square feet – 1 Acre = 160 poles
A pole used for surveying was a wooden poled that was 16.5′ long. It was also sometimes called a perch.
A surveyor’s chain was made of 100 links and measures 66 feet long.
There are exactly 640 acres in a square mile and many of the land grants were in parcels of 640 acres
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Mansker Station Heritage Days & Bowen House survey
A few years ago, my mother and I visited Historic Mansker Station in Goodlettsville, Tenn., for their spring Heritage Days. This special event fit perfectly with my survey book discovery as they were re-enacting a surveyor plotting off the land for the Bowen House as they would have done it back in the early days of Tennessee.
So when you look at the original survey plats, this is what it would have looked like… Their surveyor is pictured in the red coat – you can just imagine him as Anderson Stewart, surveyor for Robertson County in the 1800s with his elegant handwriting and detailed drawings… His assistant is in the burnt orange jacket.
The chain bearers stretch the chain between two points for the surveyor to get his measurement. They then drive a stake and move to the next section.
They had to post guards around the perimeter as Indians were still a menace then. They would have been trekking through the wilderness – there were no cleared fields at that point. Can you imagine the ticks and chiggers they must have suffered from after a day of surveying???
Keeping a safe perimeter around the Bowen House while they survey…
After we watching them working on the survey a while we headed up to the Bowen House for a tour. This was our first time to visit.
Now, back to those survey book pages.. I’m sure you’ll want to know if your ancestor is in the survey book so here are the index pages.
That’s all for now! Hope you find a nugget of your history amongst these pages. If anyone knows anything about the surveyor in Robertson County, A. Stewart, let me know. I can’t seem to find any details about him.