(Misc edits for clarity, I hope. 26-nov-2007)
I rode through Snow Prairie on Day 2 of my trip to Holmes County, Ohio, back in September 2003. It’s in Branch County, Michigan.
Snow Prairie is named after Eleazer Snow, a person who is said to have fled the area during the Black Hawk war. Usually the county histories don’t name names of the people who did that, but Eleazer Snow was no longer around when they were written. He seems to have been considered fair game for that and other not-so-nice things that were said. I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to learn more about him to corroborate or disprove the things that were said about him in the Branch County history, without anything to show for it.
On this particular day I was heading towards Gilead Township, to stop at the site where Bishop Philander Chase attempted to build a seminary after he had left Kenyon College under disagreeable circumstances. I thought it an appropriate route since one of my destinations was Kenyon College, where I was planning to spend a day in the archives with Bishop Chase’s papers.
I got to thinking about Gilead Township yesterday while working on my wiki article about Climax Prairie . One of the early buyers of land on Climax Prairie was a David Page. I found more information about him — he had served in the militia at the time of the Black Hawk war, and was one of the very earliest settlers at White Pigeon in St. Joseph County. He had bought several pieces of land from the government.
But it was strange to see that one of his very earliest land purchases was in Gilead township, at a site right next to Gilead Lake — right next to the public access where I had once stopped to make myself a cup of coffee. It’s less than two miles from Snow Prairie road.
This seemed to contradict what I thought I knew about settlement patterns. How did he possibly know to select a site down there at such an early date? He moved to White Pigeon in 1827. In 1827 that piece of land in Gilead Township was a long ways from anywhere. I puzzled over that one for a while before figuring out what had happened.
It turns out that makers of the BLM-GLO database had transcribed that land patent wrong. I had just been writing about how it’s a good idea to check the actual photocopies of the land patents, and here was another reason why. Whoever did the transcribing read “range eleven west ” and wrote “range 7 west”. Or perhaps wrote the section number down as the range number.
Range 11 made a lot more sense. That puts it just outside of White Pigeon, about a mile from the above photo (taken in June 2007) near where Page had purchased other land. And it also helps explain why I couldn’t find certain other land records near White Pigeon. But if it’s because of other transcription errors, I haven’t yet been able to find out where those errors got the records misfiled. Maybe I’ll just have to wait for serendipity to strike again.
There is a small, unholy pleasure in being able to find someone else’s mistake. But I don’t have a lot of room to talk. I once misread east for west, and ended up having to ride hard to the west for an extra ten miles to get to my intended campground before dark. This one with the David Page land patent was a mistake of 24 miles, but it didn’t cause me any extra riding.