About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents
 
advertisement


Subscriptions
Software Reviews
Sponsored By

Continuing Series
     RTN
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By


Product Reviews
Partner Sites

machinecontrolonline 


lbszone.com

GISuser.com

GeoJobs.biz

GeoLearn

 

Spatial Media LLC properties

Associates

ASPRS

newsnow 

Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

John Austin Survey Print E-mail
Written by Jack Chiles, LS   
Thursday, 30 April 2009

A 1.722Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

To become an owner of land in 1824 under Mexican law one had to do certain things­pay a fee, take possession of the land, perform certain rites, and reside on and cultivate the land for a minimum of two years (this also meant defending one's life and properties against any war parties of American Indians that happened to ride your way).

John Austin came to Texas as a member of the "Old 300", the first group of American settlers brought to Texas by Stephen F. Austin under an agreement with the Superior Government of the Mexican Nation. He may or may not have been a cousin of Stephen's, but we do know that they were, at the very least, good friends. John Austin petitioned the Commissioner to the Government, Philip Hendrick Nering Bogel (also known as the Baron de Bastrop), to be allowed to settle approximately 8,880 acres of land "situated on the creek called Buffalo Bayou".

John's petition was granted and Mr. Austin took possession of the land on July 21, 1824, and a patent was issued from Mexico to Mr. Austin. Unfortunately, John lived only eight years after gaining title to his land. He died in August of 1832 and his widow eventually sold most of the patent to two brothers named Allen, who, in turn, had the land surveyed by two brothers named Gail and T. H. Borden and subdivided the land into a town named for a Texas hero--Sam Houston (Figure 1).

If you are a resident of Houston, you probably know the rest of the story. Mr. Austin's two leagues of land are now at the center of this great city. But where, really, are the corners of this old patent?

I have had the privilege of performing surveys in the downtown area on occasion. While performing research for one such project, I came across some notes in a City of Houston Survey Field Book dated February 13, 1914 (Figure 2). These notes depict a concrete monument being set in the same location as an old "bois d'arc stake" which was one of the original stakes set in July of 1824, marking the southeast corner of the John Austin Survey, the first Abstract in Harris County, Texas. To a surveyor, this is akin to finding a map of buried treasure, and I, for one, could not resist the lure of recovering this historical monument.

In surveying, the doctrine of "following in the footsteps of the original surveyor" is paramount. To recover an original property corner, probably one of the first pieces of property ever surveyed in Harris County, is very rare. Most of Harris County has been surveyed and resurveyed so many times, with resultant construction, that almost all of the original patent corners have been destroyed. When I approached two old friends, Mike Hoover and Bill Merten, about relocating the original corner of the John Austin Survey Abstract, they were skeptical at first. However, after I sent them copies of the field notes, they too, became excited.

On Saturday, February 9, 2008, I set out with Mike, Bill, and three other comrades set out to find and perpetuate this concrete monument. The site is just easterly of the Central Business District of Houston, an area populated with warehouses and railroads tracks. When we arrived at the site, we were able to locate the control points which were used by the earlier City of Houston employees to reference the monument. These centerline control monuments were set in 1868 as part of a then-citywide control survey and are stories in themselves. We then occupied these control points, turned angles and measured distances and marked an "X" on the ground.

With no monument visible, we used a magnetic field detector to ascertain whether or not there was metal underground. The detector indicated the presence of metal right where the monument was supposed to be. Now, everyone wanted to dig. We had gotten but a few inches deep when we hit pay dirt. A square concrete monument approximately 8 inches by 8 inches with old square iron rebar was right where it was supposed to be (Figures 4 & 5).

We then made ties to nearby planimetric features, using a compass and tape (as a ceremonial gesture to history) so that anyone possessing a copy of my notes would be able to again locate this historical surveying landmark.

While the surveyors of 1824 had compasses and maybe a Gunter's chain, maybe a rope with knots tied to indicate feet or varas, we had decided to perpetuate the position of the monument by establishing geographic coordinates for the monument. We set up a GPS receiver and let it gather data for an hour. I processed the resultant data using City of Houston CORS monuments as base control and I now have a position for the concrete monument and the nearby street centerline monuments. These positions are expressed as coordinates (Northing and Easting) using the Texas Coordinate System of 1983. These coordinates and the Project map have been delivered to the City of Houston Survey Department and the City of Houston File Room, thereby making this data available to the public.

When one finds a treasure map and then the treasure to boot, he has to gain an even higher appreciation of his chosen profession. Not too many careers offer a combination of archaeology, field research, quasi-legal determinations, the use of mathematics and space technology simultaneously.

Author's Note: The author thanks Mike Hoover, RPLS, and Bill Merten, RPLS, LSLS, for their surveying knowledge, equipment and encouragement.

Jack Chiles began surveying as a green rodman in January of 1976, although there have been surveyors in his family since the early 1700s. He is a Registered Professional Land Surveyor in Texas and currently resides with his family in Houston. 

A 1.722Mb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

 
< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Editorial 
Thought Leader: The Short Cut Method
I began my quest to become a land surveyor many years ago in Nebraska. I had the good fortune to have had a job wandering around the state retracing mile after mile of GLO surveys. These large scale boundary surveys offered all sorts of learning experiences. One of the object lessons came ....
Read the Article
Jason E. Foose, PS 
Decided Guidance: Boundary Fixed by Common Grantor
The case of Atwell v. Olson presented the Supreme Court of the State of Washington with the question of whether an agreed line between grantor and grantee is binding on subsequent owners? Here's another look at a grantee's meaning of the word "half." Unlike the case Wood v. Mandrilla ....
Read the Article
Barnes and Tucker 
Surveying the Colorado River Aqueduct
During the 1920s, the city of Los Angeles was burgeoning. Demographics were changing and geographic boundaries were being pushed out in all directions. Oil was booming, industrialization was in full swing, and water was in high demand. Southern ....
Read the Article
John Stenmark, PS 
Indoor Mobile Mapping Takes Off at LAX
Airports are key components of the global transportation infrastructure. They are complex, expensive investments that require tight management. In order to achieve efficient operations and optimized return on investment, it's essential to have ....
Read the Article
Larry Trojak 
Station to Station
Though most facets of the construction process stand to benefit from building information modeling (BIM), general contractors and construction managers could gain the most from the push toward its implementation. BIM, after all, is designed to help ....
Read the Article
Dave Lindell, PS 
Test Yourself: Thinking Inside the Box
A square's diagonal is intersected by a line from another vertex to the midpoint of an opposite side. A circle is inscribed in the triangle opposite the midpoint as shown. What is its radius if the side of the square is "s"? ....
Read the Article
 
Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM 
Vantage Point: A Few Words
"Proceed to the route." These are words I sometimes hear from my car's GPS--as if I would be asking for directions if I knew how to get to the route in the first place. Yes, this is a machine's response that does not take human frustration into account. But even human communication can take ....
Read the Article

deliciousrssnewsletterlinkedinfacebooktwitter

Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
please
contact Amerisurv


Google
 
AMERISURV TOP NEWS

Trimble Intros
S5 Ti-M

GOT NEWS? Send To
press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content

Sponsor


News Feeds

 
Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps
Careers

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.

 

Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 

twitter

 




The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
905 W 7th St #331
Frederick MD 21701
301-620-0784
301-695-1538 - fax