Our Iowa History: Surveying The Land.

(M-0037) Map No. 2. Sketch of the Public Surveys in Iowa. An original surveyor’s map of Iowa as filed in Dubuque on October 21, 1852 by George B. Sargent, Surveyor General.

Created only six years after Iowa became the 29th state (1846), our George Sargent map illustrates the latest report of townships surveyed throughout the new state of Iowa. Townships were created as the measure of the Public Land Survey System, which was first widely implemented by the General Land Office to survey the Northwest Ordinance. The General Land Office was an independent agency charged with the administration and sale of public lands of the western territories of the United States under the Preemption Act of 1841 and the Homestead Act of 1862. During a time of frenetic energy and rapid westward expansion, the Public Land Survey System was responsible for surveying, platting, and mapping much of the Western United States and Florida. Each township on this map is labeled using a single capital letter. These letters indicate each township’s status with regard to the cataloguing process of the Surveyor General’s Office. For example, any township labeled with a ‘C’ has completed the checklist, meaning that it has been surveyed and platted, the plats have been copied, descriptive lists of the township have been made, and field notes have been recorded and transcribed. Townships labeled with an ‘I’,’S’, or ’P’ however, were in various stages of that lengthy process, while townships that have an ‘O’ or are left blank have only had, or are having, their exterior boundaries surveyed.
(M-0036) Circa 1845 – Sketch of the Public Surveys of Iowa Territory map. In my office hangs a very rare survey map of Iowa Territory dating back to about 1845.
…from Iowa As It Is, N. Howe Parker, 1855, p25.
…from Iowa As It Is, N. Howe Parker, 1855, p71.
…from Iowa As It Is, N. Howe Parker, 1855, p72.
This rare Iowa map (which hangs in my office), was created by the Surveyor General’s Office in Dubuque and is dated October 21, 1852. It was published in the Report of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, 1852.

George Barnard Sargent Surveyor General – Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin 1851-1853. Born in 1818 in Boston, Sargent moved to Iowa in 1838, where he married Mary Perin, eventually having ten children. In 1847, he opened the bankhouse of “Cook and Sargent” in Davenport, and was appointed Surveyor General in Dubuque on March 24, 1851 by President Fillmore. He served in that capacity from May 8, 1851 to April 1, 1853. In 1857, Sargent was elected Mayor of Davenport, opening a new banking house on the corner of Main and Second streets. In 1869, the Sargent family moved to Duluth, Minnesota, where he died in 1875.

Click here to read the story of how a brave surveying team, working under the direction of George Sargent, established markings along the Iowa/Minnesota border in 1852, reporting back to Sargent in Dubuque in July 1852.

In 1832, following the Black Hawk War, the U.S. Government purchased land west of the Mississippi River (about fifty miles wide stretching from the Neutral Ground to the north to Missouri on the south). Burlington, the first territorial capitol, was in this parcel of land, as was Dubuque to the north, and Henry County (home of Mt. Pleasant & Wayland) as well. This land was called the Black Hawk Purchase.

In 1836, the government added a small strip of land named Keokuk’s Reserve, 400 square miles running alongside the Iowa River.

In 1837, a third purchase of land (approx. 25 miles wide in the middle and tapering off to the north and to the south) was secured from the Sauk and Fox tribes.

For the Boller family, this map shows us all we need to know about Our Iowa Heritage. 1) Johnson County (Iowa City and the Boller farm land), 2) Washington County (Kalona), 3) Henry Counry (Mt. Pleasant and Wayland), and 4) Linn County (Cedar Rapids).
Our Future Boller Homestead. Here’s the Boller farmstead as surveyed in 1845. (+) sign in Washington Township of Johnson County indicates the land has not yet been surveyed, nor platted, and nothing yet recorded in the General Land Office in Dubuque! Click here for more early maps of Iowa City.
(L-0004) In my office, I also have attained two additional maps: an 1854 Surveyor’s Map of Iowa and an 1855 Surveyor’s Map of Iowa. These two maps are identical to our 1852 map but are updated to October 21, 1854 and October 21, 1855, indicating the name of the new surveyor in charge: Warner Lewis.
(L-0060) 1855 Surveyor’s Map of Iowa.
…from Iowa As It Is, N. Howe Parker, 1855, p52.