The purpose of these pages is to provide general land information to those researching ancestors in Delaware County, Indiana. (As always, researchers should follow up with their own verification of records.) I will comment here that some of the old surnames may have evolved into a modern day spelling; this is a fairly common occurrence in genealogy, and so one should search on any name that comes close to matching their surname. I have not made any corrections, aside from an occasional punctuation for the sake of clarity, and I have not added capitalization. The Ellis material was edited sharply for the township land entry excerpts, and that which is presented here does not represent Ellis' full work, which also contains generous amounts of family genealogy information, cultural history and poems written by him about each of the townships.
The numbering of the township sections can certainly be confusing. The numbers may appear to be completely out of order, especially to those who have not researched Delaware County land records before. Strange as they may seem, they are correct. So what caused this confusion? Well, it might help to know a little bit about the subject! Since I am not an expert on these matters, I have included information from those more knowledgeable than I on this subject. ( You may bypass this offering by going directly to the bottom of the page .)
Ellis explains that the first surveys of public land were made by the government in 1822, when congressional townships were laid out, and townships were six miles square. These were numbered beginning at a base line running east and west through the south part of the state. However, in 1827, civil townships were laid out when the county was organized, with little attention paid to the congressional lines and the two running into each other in every case. From there the subject gets pretty murky, and Ellis uses the congressional land survey information only to describe land, and the actual township land entries are referenced to the civil survey. The best explanation of how sections and townships were formed and numbered, I have found, is taken from the information presented below.
1874 Map of Delaware County, Indiana , published by A. L. Kingman, circa 1874 Indexed and Printed in Atlas Form from Wall Map, copyright 1989 (used here by permission)
SECTIONS, TOWNSHIPS AND THE RECTANGULAR SURVEY SYSTEM
Most of Indiana was originally surveyed by the Rectangular Survey System, which uses an east-west base line and north-south Principal Meridian line. The Indiana base line, located across the southern part of the state, and the meridian, just west of Indianapolis, intersect five miles south of Paoli, in Orange Co.
Additional east-west lines six miles apart are called township lines. These are drawn both south and north of the base line. Additional north-south lines are drawn east and west of the principal meridian and are called range lines. The township and range lines intersect, forming six mile squares of land known as townships. Each township can be described by its location, using the number of the township line north or south of the base line, and the number of the range line east or west of the meridian. For example, townships in Delaware County are described as Township 19 North, Range 8 East; or Township 22 North, Range 11 East. (The county maps on pages 2 and 3 have the township and range line number along the edges of the maps.)
Each township is divided into thirty-six numbered sections of one square mile each. See map below for section divisions and sizes.
Counties may have civil subdivisions called Townships which may be larger than a survey township, or cross a township or range line. Therefore, more than one section of land with the same number may be found in on civil Township, such as Harrison or Liberty Township In Delaware County. When this occurs, the exact range or township number must be used to properly locate a land section.
-from the Atlas- SECTION OF LAND Summary of some possible divisions and sizes-
a great "map" displaying how land could have been divided
Information about the Atlas: The maps in this Atlas are drawn using the named civil Townships as divisions -- the 12 Townhips of Delaware County. The index provides specific guidance when there are multiple section numbers in a Township. Note: This map is available from the Delaware County Historical Alliance, Muncie, Indiana.
The 12 townships in Delaware County are: Perry, Liberty, Delaware, Niles, Union, Hamilton, Center, Monroe, Salem, Mt. Pleasant, Harrison, and Washington.
In his book, Mr. Ellis frequently included references to those pioneers and their contributions to the history of Delaware County, but none quite so eloquent as his writings in the Niles Township chapter, regarding the character of the early settlers of the entire county:
The character of the pioneers of our county is properly within our range. They lived in a region of exuberant fertility, where nature had scattered her blessings with a liberal hand. Their liberties, the vastness of their inheritance, the dense forests, the many improvements constantly going forward, combined with the bright prospects of a glorious future in everything that renders life pleasant, deeply impressed their characters and gave to them a spirit of enterprise and independence of feeling, and a joyousness of hope. They were a thorough combination of characters, conditions and opinions. Coming as they did from various states of the union and older settlements of our own state, they found themselves here in the wild forests, and became cheered with the hope of being able to build up a family, an honor to themselves, and a fortune founded on honesty and industry, from new elements. And thus they settled down beside and with each other. All now form one society, feeling a dependence upon one another, borrowing and loaning, back and forth, not only the "newspapers," but the common utensils of the kitchen, frequently going a mile or more through the woods, by the blazed trail, to borrow a peck of flour or corn meal, that the family might subsist until tile father returned from the mill, miles away, where he had gone, with oxen and cart, or, perchance, on horse back, with the sack of grain across the horse, and the time of his return depending on the number of grists that were in before him, as each had to await his turn. His return thus depending on uncertainties would often cause much anxiety to the mother and children in the lonely cabin at home, when darkness would close in and the winds beating upon the rude home, bringing unwelcome sounds, accompanied by the howling of hungry wolves.
These were the dismal, desolate phases of pioneer life. But the years passed on and the pioneers continued their toil, ever sweetened with hope, submitting patiently to hardships, until the light of a glorious civilization and prosperity dawned on them in waving fields of golden grain and luxuriant meadows. Comfortable dwellings have risen on or near the old cabin site. And might we not appropriately term this the noonday of prosperity? In the place of the blazed pathway or trail through the forest we have the smooth gravel pike, bordered on both sides with substantial fences or hedges, behind which are finely cultivated fields of grain, rich pastures with their occupants of fat, sleek thoroughbred stock, or orchards of delicious fruits. On every hand we may observe this wonderful transformation. Let us, then, thank God, emulate and endeavor to imitate the pioneers of Delaware county. And thus having the promises already fulfilled, continue in the industry and perseverance of which we have had so glorious an example. Source: Ellis, pg 62.
Enjoy your trip through the townships... (To Perry Township)
© 2000 Virginia Fyfe