Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Bureau of Land Management Website: More Than Just Land Patents

A small section of a survey map (above) of northwestern Itawamba County showing the Natchez Trace (labeled as the Old Natchez Road on the map) and Factors Field (note: a factor was an agent employed by merchants, residing in other places to buy and sell on their account. In the Chickasaw Nation of northeastern Mississippi a factor probably ran a trading post.)

Many genealogists and historical researchers use the Bureau of Land Management website to research land patents. However, they now have included images of the original land surveys as part of their offerings.

After a treaty with the Chickasaw Nation of northeast Mississippi in 1832, the United States government began surveying the new cession lands. A contract was awarded on 12 November 1833 to G.W. Higgins to survey this vast area of land, and during 1834 the survey was completed. Higgins and his men not only surveyed the land and plotted the same in sections, townships and ranges, but also made a record of trails, roads, farms and improvements on the land they encountered. The survey field notes along with the actual survey maps yield a wealth of historical information. Below is a list of sites that the surveyors found in what is now Itawamba County, Mississippi and recorded in their field notes.:

Kin-hi-cha's house and field
Indian house
Tap-pah-ka's house
Indian house and field (corn and cotton)
Indian prarie
Indian field
Indian field
Indian burial grounds
Indian house
Chistana's field and house
Indian burial grounds
Tunk-co-tubby's field and house
20-acre Indian field
Kin-hi-cha's field
Tusk-a-tubby's house and field
Indian field
Benjamin Wise's farm
Maxcy's farm
Allen's farm
Greenwood's Indian field

Although the field notes are not online the survey maps are. These survey maps show many old roads, trails, creeks and streams as well as various features including some fields and farms. The Itawamba survey maps show an old wagon road leading up from Cotton Gin Port through eastern Itawamba County ending near the present-day Clay community. Families living along this old road included the Wise, Maxcy, Allen and Dulaney families according to the survey notes. The maps also show various trails and even the Natchez Trace running through northwestern Itawamba County (written as the Old Natchez Road on the survey maps).

The survey maps of pre-county days are very detailed, showing every section, township and range in the present county in minute detail. In researching Itawamba County, don’t forget the Bureau of Land Management’s land survey images. They are an important companion to their patent records.


Billy said...

I just found your May 25 note and BLM map which shows "Factor's Field". I live near old Boren's Crossing, the place where I think the original Trace (as opposed to the current, paved road) supposedly crossed 20 Mile Creek. A nearby stream, called by the old timers "Factory (maybe "Factor's") Branch" empties into 20 Mile very near Duggar Creek. I wonder if that is the portion of map I see here. Any idea?
Billy Hancock

Bob Franks said...

Billy, you are correct. From looking at the old survey maps, the road going from Pratts (and Friendship Church area) down the hill into the Twenty-Mile Bottom and crossing the creek at Boren's bridge appears to be the "old" trace. That "Factor's Field" was northeast of Boren's Crossing. The area of the survey you are looking at is this area.