If you would like to make a map using an old deed of your own, here's how I did it.From a surveyor friend, I learned that there are two pieces of information to each step in the deed's instructions: (1) the "direction" and (2) the "distance".
The "direction" involves three parts: (a) either the word "north" or the word "south", (b) a number between one and eighty-nine, and (c) either the word "east" or the word "west". The exception to this is if the direction is due north, south, east, or west, in which case only that one word appears.
The "distance" is shown using the terms "chains"and "links". A surveyor's chain is exactly 66 feet long comprising exactly 100 links. (Each link, then, is exactly 7.92 inches, since 66 x 12 = 792, divided by 100.) There are exactly 80 chain in a mile.
Let's try it!
(For your reference, I copied below a smaller version of my map and a modified version of the deed--so you won't have to be returning to the other page all the time.)
How to Make Your Own MapMaterials you'll need:A copy or transcription of the deed, several pieces of graph paper, a protractor, a ruler, a sharp-pointed pencil, and tape or rubber cement.Take the instructions verbatim from the deed, one step at a time. Using Isham's deed as an example, let's read the surveyor's step one:"Beginning at a stake with Peter Brickey Then with George Amerine South thirty-five East Forty five Chain to a sour wood."This might be paraphrased:"1. There's a stake located at the place where Brickey's, Amerine's, and Gwin's properties meet. Set up your transit [or, in our case, your protractor] over that stake, and aim it thirty-five degrees east of south. Send out your chain carriers in that exact direction a distance of exactly 45 chain [45 x 66 =2,970 feet or just over 1/2 mile]. Amerine's property is on one side of that line [and Gwin's is on the other]. There's a sourwood tree growing on that exact spot."Translate that to your map:1. Write the word North at the top of your paper, South at the bottom, West in the left margin, and East in the right.If your starting and ending points don't match, here are some possibilities for error:
2. Pick a starting point on your graph paper and make a dot there (somewhere near the center will work for now). This will represent that stake as the beginning point. [NOTE: At some point in your mapping, you will likely come to the edge of the paper and not be able to continue, so be ready to use your tape or rubber cement to connect another piece of paper to it, being careful to keep all the lines square with each other.]
3. Lay your protractor on the paper, with:(a) the centerpoint exactly over that dot,5. Starting at the 90-degree mark in the center of the curve, count 35 degrees to the east (right) and make a mark. (This mark does not represent the sourwood tree, only the direction in which that tree lies from the stake.)
(b) the flat edge of the protractor parallel to the east-west lines on the paper, and
(c) the curved part of the protractor aimed in the direction of the first word in the instructions (in our case, south, or toward the bottom of the page).
6. Draw a straight line with your ruler connecting the stake-dot and that mark.
7. Now you have to decide what unit on your ruler will represent one chain. This will determine how big your map will be. For example, if you choose 1/16 of an inch to equal one chain, then one inch will equal 16 chain, and so 45 chain will equal two and 13/16 inches (45 divided by 16). That's going to be a little smaller map than (actually two-thirds the size of) the one I drew. I have an architect's scale (ruler) and used 3/32 inch to equal one chain, so my map will be half again the size of yours. If you choose 1/8 of an inch, however, your map will be larger than mine, and so on. The larger your map, the more accurate and detailed it will be, but the more paper and tape it will require and the more space you will need to use and store it, etc.
7. Measure 45 chain along the line you just drew from your starting-point-stake-dot and make your second dot, which will represent that sourwood tree.
8. Erase any of the line that extends beyond that second dot. Now you're ready to go to the surveyor's step two, which says, "Then with vacant Land South ten East Eleven Chain to a stake."
9. Using your last dot (the sourwood) as the starting point for the next line, place your protractor's centerpoint over it, flat edge parallel with east-west lines and the arc pointing south. Count ten degrees to the right (east) and make a mark. Connect the sourwood-tree-dot and the mark you just drew. Measure along that line eleven chain and make your third dot (which will represent that stake), again erasing any of the line left over. [NOTE: When links are a part of the distance, you have to estimate how much of a chain that will be. For example, if the distance is "ten chain and fifty links,"that translates to ten and a half chains, and so you'd make your dot halfway between your ruler's tenth and eleventh sixteenth marks.]
10. Continue until you reach your starting point. There are sixteen "steps" in Isham's deed, meaning you will draw a total of 16 straight lines to complete your map of his survey. You may find it easier to keep your place in the instructions if you type them out, then skip a line between each step and number them as I have done for you in the copy of the deed below.1. Your protractor's straightedge wasn't parallel with east-west at some point.
2. You miscounted degrees (reading the handwriting on those old deeds can be a trick--sometimes fifty looks like forty, etc.).
3. You misread, say, east for west or eighty for eight (easy to do on many photocopies!).
4. The photocopy cut off some of the instructions ("north thirty eight west" looked like "north eight west" because the thirty was at the right end of the line and got cut off the photocopy).
5. The surveyor wrote the wrong word down. You can correct this by finding the deed for the neighbor's property and checking the common line--usually he didn't make that same mistake on both.
6. The surveyor wasn't wearing his glasses when he was transcribing his notes into the records book.
7. You weren't wearing your glasses when you read his transcription.
8. You were so excited about finding the deed that you stayed up too late trying to finish your map and misread it even with your glasses on.
The deed reads as follows (capitalization that of the writer; emphasis mine):
And here are the scans of the photocopies of the microfilm of the original deed of the "Certain Tract of Land Containing Two hundred and forty-nine Acres" surveyed 18 May 1807 in Crowson's Cove, Sevier Co., TN, for Isham Gwin, photocopied by John Gwin in 2003 at the T. Elmer Cox Center for History and Genealogy in Greeneville, Greene Co., TN, the discovery of which led us to the discovery that this Isham Gwin and the Isham Gwin who lived in the Indiana counties of Harrison, Crawford, and Orange, were the same person -- and John Gwin's gggg-grandfather.