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Kansas Land Survey Plat Maps and Field Notes

The map below shows the township and range grid system that was used when the U.S. government first surveyed the State of Kansas, beginning in 1855 and continuing into the 1880s. It is still used for the legal description on Kansas land deeds. Townships are 6 miles tall and are numbered north to south starting from the Nebraska-Kansas border. Ranges are 6 miles wide and begin numbering from the 6th prime meridian, which is roughly the path of Highway 81 (and bisects Wichita). Ranges east of the 6th prime meridian start with range 1 east and number toward the Missouri border; ranges west of the 6th prime meridian start with range 1 west and number toward the Colorado border. The combination of the township and range numbers pinpoint where the township is.

Kansas ranges and townships












Plat map of range 20 east, township 12 south

On the right is the original plat map for the township located at 12 south, range 20 east (marked in red on the above map), that was surveyed in December 1855 to April 1856. You can click on the map to see a larger image. This plat map shows some features that are common to all of the original maps, including:

  • Green outline of banks and riparian areas around the streams
  • A river drawn in blue
  • Squares with squiggly lines across them to represent cultivated land
  • Existing roads and trails, drawn as two parallel lines (sometimes ending abruptly wherever the surveyor stopped)
  • Exact number of acres in each section

In addition, this map shows the Delaware Diminished Reserve land and gives the names of tribal members whose farms appear on it. Most original survey plat maps do not show the names of land owners. It also includes the location of a buffalo lick in section 2.

The other part of the original survey records are the field note books. They are indexed by the township and range numbers and below is a copy of the indexes to the field notes for township 12 south, range 20 east.

The index shows that the survey field notes for this township are found in 5 books: book 580 describes the north outside line, book 578 describes the south outside line, etc. The inside "subdivision" lines of the "North Fractional," which is the area north of the river, are described in book 580, while subdivision lines in the "South Fractional," the area south of the river, are described in book 591. In addition, there are field notes for a resurvey on the east line, a "meanders" survey for the Kansas River, a survey of the island in the river, and a "Wyandotte Float" survey. ("Wyandotte Floats" were unspecified land allotments by treaty to members of the tribe, that were claimed when the tribe was removed to Kansas).

List of field notes volumes for township 12 south, range 20 east











In the field notes, the measurements are given in the left column in rods and chains, the standard unit of measure at that time. Below is a detail of page 125 from book 578, part A, of the field notes for the north line of section 2, township 12 south, range 20 east, that records the "buffalo lick" which is shown on the plat map.Field notes, section 2, township 12 south, range 20 east