Who surveyed this line?

Posted:

1809 Treaty Line marker in Cambridge City IN

(August 29, continued)  This marker is in Cambridge City, at the intersection of the National Road and Boundary Street.   The rest of my day’s ride was going to take me south-southwest along the 1809 treaty line sometimes known as the Twelve Mile Boundary.  There are places where modern roads follow the line.

I got to thinking that despite several stops along this treaty line over the past few years I still didn’t know some of the most basic things about it.  Who was the surveyor, for example?   The treaty itself was a significant event in the conflicts leading to the War of 1812.    Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa gained a lot of credibility for their resistance movement when hitherto skeptical Native people saw that the Americans really were as hungry for their land as the two brothers had been trying to tell them.

I have seen vague references to conflicts between surveyors of the line and Indians who objected to their work, but to get to any specifics that might be available, I figured that getting the name of the government surveyor would be a good start.

A few google hours later, I still don’t know.   But I did find a good lead.

Actually, this wasn’t the first time I had seen “Early Indiana Trails and Surveys” which was written by George R. Wilson for the Indiana Historical Society Publications in 1919.   But it was the first time I had seen the above map from it.  It shows the names of the federal surveyors of Indiana townships and treaty lines.  (If you click on the title you will go to a higher-quality page view of the book at Archive.org.)

Actually, I don’t know whether those are the surveyors who surveyed the township boundaries or the ones who did the interior section lines.   For Michigan surveys those were two separate contracts, usually done by different surveyors.    But it’s something to start with.

I’ve highlighted in green the two new treaty lines that needed to be surveyed after the 1809 treaty.   The left one is sometimes called the Ten O’Clock Treaty Line.   The one along which I was going to ride this day is sometimes called the Twelve Mile Treaty Line, because it was twelve miles from the older Greenville Treaty Line.   (On the map it looks it wasn’t a straight enough line to parallel the Greenville line for its entire distance, though.)   I’ve marked the location of  Cambridge City in red.

Wilson gives details about some of these survey lines, and mentions several incidents that might make good bicycle destinations.   And he says there is even more in the surveyors’ field notes.

But he seemed to quit with the Ten O’Clock Treaty line.   He says the surveyor of that one was a John McDonald.  But did the same McDonald also have the contract for the Twelve Mile line?   He doesn’t say.   So I’ll have to keep looking.

1809 Treaty Line marker in Cambridge City INThis photo is where Boundary Street intersects with the National Road.   Note that it’s not a right-angle intersection.

This article is tagged and categorized as follows: