Public Land Survey System/County's Remonumentation Program
Allegan County Surveyor
Under the Land Ordinance of 1785, the federal government, in order to provide for the sale and settlement of the public lands obtained in the Treaty of Paris, began surveying the public domain lands and formed the basis of the Public Land Survey System. The Ordinance established that the lands could not be transferred from the federal government until they were surveyed.
This surveying began in the Northwest Territory in what is now Ohio with the first land patent issued in 1788. Lands were to be divided into townships of 36 - 1 square mile sections. The General Land Office or GLO was created in 1812 to manage the public domain lands (later to become part of the Bureau of Land Management in 1946). Also In 1812, congress designated six million acres of land for military bounties used for payment of service in the military. Two million acres of these acres were in Michigan near the western shore of Lake Erie and northerly of the Northern boundary of Ohio (which had not been determined yet). Therefore, beginning in 1815 and ending in the 1850’s the lands that became the State of Michigan were surveyed and divided. The townships which make up Allegan County were mainly subdivided in the 1830’s. During the surveys a wooden post was driven every ½ mile on the perimeter of each section to monument the section corners. Two bearing trees were observed at every post to further witness the location of these corners.
These section corners are the controlling points for most property boundaries in Michigan and all other Public Land Survey States. Since their establishment by the GLO, county surveyors have worked to maintain and perpetuate section corner positions. Early County Surveyors placed stones and clay tiles or other objects that wouldn’t break down at these corners to keep their location known. Later surveyors placed ferrous iron objects at these locations for the convenience of locating them with a dip needle and later electronic metal detectors.
Over the years many section corner positions were lost due to road, utility, clearing for agriculture and fence construction. The loss of these corners increased the probability of property line disputes and increased the cost of surveys which rely upon these corners. Dozens of counties had eliminated the office of the county surveyor making it even more difficult to keep track of and maintain records for these corner positions. In 1990 the state legislator wisely saw it was time to create a program to re-monument all section corners in the state and to provide for a statewide perpetuation of these corner’s positions. ACT 345 of 1990
was passed allowing for each county to apply for an annual state grant for the perpetuation of the county’s section corners. This grant is funded by a portion of the recording fees for documents recorded at the Register of Deeds
in each county. The county surveyor (if elected) acts as the County Representative (as defined by the act) and chairs a board of peers who review the remonumentation and maintenance of the county’s section corners.
A stone (from the late 1800’s) is located and perpetuated with an Allegan County Remonumentation monument at the quarter corner common to Section 28 & Section 29 of Trowbridge Township. The corner’s position was reviewed by the Allegan County Remonumentation monument in September of 2015.