American Land Descriptions and Records

Originally, American land holdings used an ancient system of marking boundaries between each piece of land called Metes and Bounds.  About the time of the American Revolution, and under the new government of the United States, the Rectangular System was applied based upon a standard grid  laid out on the land by surveyors.

Metes and Bounds–
Physical objects
Neighbors who were named
Bearings and Measurements

Distance–Poles, Rods

Rectangular Survey–
Numbered Sections

New England–
Township, 6 miles square
Land parcels by quality

New Jersey–
Metes and Bounds
New England System

New York–
Rectangular Survey
Large Patents
Numbered Lots

Metes and Bounds
Rectangular Survey
Numbered Lots

Southern States–
Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee
Rectangular Survey

  Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina,
Delaware, Kentucky, Tennessee

Metes and Bounds

Large land Tracts and Grants
Metes and Bounds
Numbered and Surveyed Lots

Each system made distinctive patterns on the land.  These patterns are visible on maps and aerial photographs.  The Metes and Bounds system required that the people walk the boundaries on a 2-3 year rotation to implant the boundaries on the collective memory of the local community,  to replace markers that weather and time eradicated or shifted, and to cut boundary disputes between neighbors and relatives.  The local courts adjudicated when neighbors could not or would not agree.  Your favorite genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  Land records are among the core records, the very basic sources used to create a pedigree.  They are also among the most complicated research sources available.  You could check out my two books on using land records to prove your family tree.  The books are listed on my Home Page under Arlene’s Store.  If you haven’t checked recently, my books put a correct and complete genealogy with proven ancestors within your grasp.









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