|Line Creek Land Grants and
| NEW! Click here for a publication containing all
the grant maps and information.
I have attempted to put together some maps of the land grants and some land
purchases on Line Creek. The earliest is dated 1799, the latest 1889; most of
the grants were issued in the 1830s and 1840s, with the most active period
between 1845 and 1850.
There are six maps, the links are below. I've struggled with the best way to
present this information and this is what I've done:
First, I arranged the maps by date, not by person or location. Second, each
grant is clickable; that is, you can click on a tract and a new browser window
will open giving the survey date, acreage, the property's history, and some
other information. Of particular interest is the land's history. Be sure to
read that information closely to find who owned and/or lived on the land at a
particular time, since many times the person who had the survey performed was
not the land's grantee or first owner. And third, I've added an index of sorts
for each map, cross-referenced by grant letter. The indices contain a list of
individuals who had some involvement with the land.
to 1825 /
to 1844 /
to 1850 /
to 1860 /
to 1889 /
James Cooper's land, 1890-1892
A discussion on surveying and the accuracy of both the surveys and my maps is
About the maps' errors: I feel confident the placements of the grants on the
maps are correct to at least within 500 feet (and probably to about 350 feet)
in a northwest-southeast direction, and within a hundred feet or so
northeast-southwest. As I get GPS readings on more anchor points the
uncertainty should decrease. A 500-foot error range is really not that bad, all
things considered; we're dealing with an area 7 miles long.
The reason there is any error at all is related to surveying issues. In general
the grant surveys are surprisingly (at least to me) good; they have an average
circumference error of 0.86 percent or about 86 feet per survey. Also
surprising was the fact that the later surveys (roughly after 1860) tended to
be worse than the earlier ones.
The most accurate in terms of error, 0.08 percent, was one of the 1845 Isaacs'
50-acre surveys. The most impressive was Lewis Sowder's 1845 survey which
encompassed 275 acres in an odd shape with 14 corners and few long lines. It
had a circumference of more than three miles, but the error was less than 21
Making errors concerning acreage was much more common and worse, though also
less important to us, than actual surveying mistakes. They just weren't very
good at figuring the area of irregularly-shaped objects. Extreme examples
include Silas Harper's 1854 80-acre survey which was actually 112 acres, and
one of Alfred Warren's 1845 50-acre surveys which was really only 31 acres.
Even the aforementioned Sowder survey was off by 37 percent in area. On
average, the areas were miscalculated by about 12 percent.
Surveying during the 1800s was much different from the computerized, Global
Positioning System-based method used today. A surveying crew typically
consisted of four men, the surveyor, two chainmen, and one marker, who used a
compass and a surveying chain to measure the angles and distances. The most
common chain was four poles long, with 100 links (a pole is 16.5 feet; a link
is 7.92 inches). So these chainmen stretched their 66-foot-long chain as
straight as they could, down ravines, around trees, up hills. Along a
quarter-mile line, the chain would be moved 19 times, with each move offering a
chance to deviate ever so slightly from the correct line.
Apart from errors in the process, the tools had errors inherent in their use.
The chains had an acceptable error of about one link per three to five chains,
or about 0.2 to 0.3 percent. The compass was subject to the fluctuations of
magnetic north over time and localized magnetic anomalies. A deviation of only
a fraction of a degree at each corner could make a big difference in getting
the survey to "close," or for the beginning and ending corners to be
the same. The odds of getting a highly accurate survey were stacked against our
surveying ancestors, so we're fortunate to have the good ones we have (and I
haven't even mentioned the skill, or lack thereof, of many surveyors).
Unfortunately, the corners and lines of many of these good grants have long
since disappeared or become ambiguous; after all how many "to a rock on
the bank of the creek, thence to a white oak by the old fence"
descriptions can be found 150 years later. So I've had to rely on landmarks
which haven't changed and are readily identifiable today. The two most
important landmarks I've used are the Harper Cemetery and the mouth of Laces
Fork. I've learned one feature I had hoped to get a GPS from, called the
"Ivy Rock House" and which was a corner to about five different
surveys over several decades, was destroyed during strip mining activities
several years ago. I'm beginning to believe strip mining may have caused us
significant problems in both Pulaski and Rockcastle.
A few bad surveys can mess up a lot of things and there are some poor ones on
Line Creek. And, as luck would have it, the most important set of surveys are
among the worst.
Beginning in 1890 the Cooper heirs
divided James Cooper's
land, which was most of Line Creek, amongst themselves. It was subdivided
and allotted to his children and his widow. But the surveys which were done on
these new divisions, nine in all covering several thousand acres, not only
don't match with some previous survey lines, they don't even match with each
other in some critical areas. That has presented some problems.
I've tried to reconcile those later surveys with the original grants, using the
original lines when possible.