July 10, 2021 — 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Colonial Surveyor visits CARPENTERS’ HALL


The first surveyors in America arrived with the Jamestown Company in 1621.  Given the goal of quickly settling Virginia and the vagaries of Royal Charters for Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolina colonies, surveyors were critical to establishing order in the colonies.

The role of the surveyor was to transfer land from the crown to private ownership.  The survey was completed using a compass on a staff, called a Jacob’s Staff, and a 33′ Gunter’ chain.  It was the responsibility of the buyer to be the pilot, showing the land’s boundary to the surveyor and to hire two chain carriers.   Once the fieldwork was completed, the surveyor drew a plat and wrote a description of the property.  The survey plat and description were copied and entered into the county survey book, and the originals were sent to the Governor.  Upon entry of the warrant with survey plat and description, the Secretary of State issued a land patent signed by the governor and marked with the colony’s seal. 

Later as significant municipal buildings like Faneuil Hall, the Pennsylvania Statehouse, Carpenters Hall, and significant manor homes like Mt Vernon and built, it was critical that detailed and clear surveys were prepared to aid the architect not only in the design but also in the ultimate construction of these buildings.

During the Revolutionary War, George Washington, himself well-schooled in surveying, commissioned a battalion of surveyors and geographers to map the terrain ahead of the army.    A knowledge of the terrain, location of roads, fords, and various other aspects of the land was vital to the ability to effectively move the army and wage war.


FREE Interactive Program

This will be an interactive program where participants are encouraged to employ the tools and techniques of the 18th Century Surveyor and actively measure a section of the back lawn of Carpenters Hall.  Participants will be allowed to site lines using the compass and range poles.  They will be allowed to measure those lines using the Gunters chain as well as measure splines off that lines for irregular boundaries.  Finally, participants will be encouraged to use these measurements to draw maps and write property descriptions (which they may take away). 

Published by Michael Carver

My goal is to bring history alive through interactive portrayal of ordinary American life in the late 18th Century (1750—1799) My persona are: Journeyman Brewer; Cordwainer (leather tradesman but not cobbler), Statesman and Orator; Chandler (candle and soap maker); Gentleman Scientist; and, Soldier in either the British Regular Army, the Centennial Army, or one of the various Militia. Let me help you experience history 1st hand!

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