1838 Boundary Retracement Example
Earlier this year, one of the projects I was working on involved as a part of the survey, locating the NW corner of an original grant of 14-3/4 labors of land (about 2613 acres), the J.B. Eaves Survey No. 5, surveyed in 1838 over rolling prairie in what is now a county South of Austin.
The 1838 surveyor's sketch of the Eaves Survey appearing in the patent field notes on file in the Texas General Land Office is shown below.
J.B. Eaves Sur. No. 5, Hays County, Texas
Between 1871 and 1876, the Eaves Survey was subdivided into tracts between about 100 and 200 acres in size and sold off. In the course of the surveys by which the land grant was subdivided, a vacancy was apparently discovered along the North line of the grant and a fellow named W.O. Hutchison set about acquiring title to the land that had not yet been appropriated out of the public domain. He presented a land certificate to the County Surveyor, B.C. Hardin, and placed an order for a survey to locate a portion of the land certificate to cover the vacant land. Mr. Hardin made the survey and prepared a description of the 207.2 acres of vacant land in an irregular shape irregular shape that he found to be bounded by previously surveyed and patented tracts, filed his field notes (metes and bounds description) in the General Land Office and patent was duly issued.
Mr. Hardin's field notes dated 09/25/1871 for the 207.2 acres known as the W.A. Moore Survey tied to his location of the Northwest corner of the Eaves Survey, describing it as "a Stone Mound set for the N.W. Corner of the J.B. Eaves as now claimed and as represented on the County map". The land was open prairie at the time and his field notes give no calls aside from the calls for the monuments at the corners and the calls for course and distance between them.
However, from examining the record of the surveys upon which the subdivision of J.B. Eaves Survey was based, it is pretty clear that County Surveyor Hardin had probably also surveyed off a series of tracts adjoining the West line of the Eaves more or less contemporaneously with his location of the W.A. Moore Survey. There simply weren't that many surveyors in the area in 1871 and as County Survey Mr. Hardin would have been a likely candidate to have done the work. The dates of the conveyances of the tracts along the West line of the Eaves are mostly between 09/09/1871 and 09/16/1871, basically at the same time that Hardin was working on surveying off the vacancy for patent.
In that light, examining the calls of the various tracts carved out of the J.B. Eaves Survey, it is fairly clear that the "Stone Mound set for the N.W. Corner of the J.B. Eaves as now claimed and as represented on the County map" that was considered by County Surveyor Hardin to be the Northwest corner of the Eaves Survey and used by him as the Southwest corner of his location of the junior W.A. Moore Survey was the same "Stone Mound" recited in a deed dated 09/09/1871 as marking the Northwest corner of a certain 200 acre tract on the West line of the J.B. Eaves grant.
The record calls of the intervening tracts along the West line of the Eaves Survey from the original conveyances in 1871 and 1872 place the Northwest corner of the 200 acres at a distance of 4961.2 varas (about 13,781 ft.) from the South corner of the Eaves grant.
In previous work about ten years ago, I had recovered the South corner of the Eaves Survey, a large mound of about 2 bushels of grapefruit-sized cobbles, nearly completely embedded, on the top of a low hill.
Mr. Hardin's field notes for the W.A. Moore Survey state that he ran his lines at a variation of 10°30' East, meaning that he adjusted his compass as if magnetic North had a true bearing of N10°30'E at the time of his work. 10°30' East was in fact the variation that was widely used by surveyors in that vicinity from about 1838 to about 1875. The 1838 surveyor of the J.B. Eaves grant stated that he had used that same variation in his work. So, it is quite understandable that Mr. Hardin or any other surveyor working in the area in that period would have himself adopted that value.
While that was most likely *not* the actual variation in 1871 at that locality, we can use estimates of the actual historical variation to work up an estimate of the actual directions of the lines that Mr. Hardin ran.
Estimate of B.C. Hardin's North in 1871
This double-scale sketch shows the West line of the J.B. Eaves Survey as run from the intact large mound at the South corner of the Eaves, (No. 213 at 0+00 chainage station) to remains of the Stone Mound that I found marking the Northwest corner as recognized by County Surveyor Hardin in 1871 (No.209 at 137+77.38 chainage station). The quality of Mr. Hardin's chaining is not typical of work in that area at that time, by the way. I practically fell out of my chair when I saw that his error was less than 4 ft. in about 2.6 miles.