Rectangular Survey System

Land Ordinance of 1785

  • It created a standard U.S. land unit, the 6 mile square township.
  • Each township contained 36 square miles with each square mile being called a section.
  • Each section has 640 acres.
  • Every township boundary was to be physically marked ahead of settlement.
  • Each corner of each of the 36 was also to be marked.
  • This was called the Rectangular System
  • Thomas Jefferson, a surveyor, instigated this system with the help of Hugh Williamson, a Pennsylvania mathematician who designed it from the Dutch farmlands, whose field designs dated back to early Roman occupation.

Corner Perpetuation Program

  • Indiana was sectioned off in 1807. Copies of those original notes are in this office. Today we have a program called the Corner Perpetuation Program that is designed to help Ripley County re-establish those section corners.
  • What does this have to do with your property? By using Jefferson’s Rectangular System and having surveys tie into those corners, deeds can be written so that every piece of property can be easily located.
  • Our staff is trained to read surveys and deeds and will take the time to help you understand what all those lines and numbers mean.

Useful Information

  • A chain is 66 feet.
  • A rod is the same as a pole or a perch, which is 16.5 feet.
  • There are 640 acres in a square mile.
  • A section is 1 square mile.
  • An acre is 43,560 square feet.
  • A link is 7.92 inches or (.01 x 66 feet).
  • A quarter section is 1/4 of a square mile=160 acres.
  • A quarter quarter section is 1/4 of a quarter section = 40 acres.
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