New Historical Marker Added At Ohio-Michigan State Line

ohio_mi_marker2Statement of Significance
1815 Michigan Meridian
It all began with the signing of the Treaty of Detroit on November 17, 1807 by the Chippewas, Ottawas, Wyandots and Pottawatamies. The tribes ceded approximately 345,600 Acres between Detroit and the Auglaize River and east of a line drawn due north from Fort Defiance. Prior to the War of 1812 the Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, limited the national debt to 80 million dollars. After the war the debt inflated to about 125 million dollars and a need for revenue was apparent. Congress, in addition to needing land for military warrants, was also going to sell the land as ceded from the tribes. On March 9, 1815 Surveyor General Edward Tiffin proposed to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, Josiah Meigs that surveying be started. In April of 1815 Tiffin contracted with Benjamin Hough to survey the Meridian from Fort Defiance north to the baseline at a rate of $2.50 per mile. The survey was started September 29, 1815 by Benjamin Hough, assistant Alexander Holmes, Hough’s son in law Allison Looker, Thomas Evans and about 9 other men helping to clear line, hunt, cook and haul equipment. The crew ran north from Fort Defiance for 42 miles before branching in different directions. The 42nd mile marked the southwest corner of the proposed 2 million acres of military lands. Until this point most of the meridian actually fell in Ohio and most notably the disputed territory which prompted the Toledo War. In November of 1815 the surveys ceased due to poor field conditions and the lack of promise to provide soldiers with land fit for cultivation (officially suspended on April 2, 1816). Surveys did not resume until July 16, 1816 and when completed created a confusing second initial point.

The Michigan Meridian and accompanying baseline control all townships and ranges across the state of Michigan and that portion that now lies within Ohio. The quality of work and the hardships that the survey crew endured while surveying the meridian shall be remembered and honored. The Michigan Meridian is only part of the vast public land survey system that spans the western United States.

Statement of Significance
1915 Ohio-Michigan State Line Survey
In 1787 when the Northwest Ordinance was drafted based on an inaccurate map drawn by geographer John Mitchell, the problems began. Ohio thought the language from the Ordinance drawing an East-West line from the southern tip of Lake Michigan included present day Toledo and the Mouth of the Maumee River. The Michigan Territory held the Ordinance Line and when surveyed Ohio found the problem and changed their constitution to read “a line drawn directly from Lake Michigan’s southern extremity to the most northerly cape of the Miami (Maumee)Bay”. Commonly known as the Harris Line, William Harris surveyed the line based upon Ohio’s Constitution. John Fulton, as ordered by the Michigan Territory, surveyed the Ordinance Line, or Fulton Line and officially created the “Toledo Strip”. After the bloodless Toledo War and sour feelings on both sides Ohio was granted the 400 square miles of the Toledo Strip and by order of President Andrew Jackson granted Michigan Statehood and was granted 9000 square miles of the Upper Peninsula.

As originally surveyed by William Harris in 1817, retraced by The Ohio Boundary Commissioners Surveyors and again retraced by General Land Office Surveyor Andrew Porter the line was finally permanently retraced and monumented by Samuel Stinson Gannett and crew in 1915. The 48th Legislature of Michigan approved Act 84 of the Public Acts of 1915 and the 81rst General Assembly of Ohio approved House Bill 701 to jointly finance the survey. The survey resulted in 72 granite monuments being set over 69.92 miles between July 12 and October 26, 1915. The entire survey cost $7,197.98 or $102.95 per mile and was known as one of the cheapest state line retracement surveys ever performed, yet one of the most accurate.

The monuments came from the largest open face granite quarry in the world – Mount Airy, North Carolina. The monuments were shipped to Toledo and the top 18 inches were dressed and cut by Lloyd Walker Brothers of Toledo.

S.S. Gannett, Geographer of the United States Geological Survey was known as a state line boundary retracement specialist. Over his career he surveyed the state lines between New Hampshire/Vermont, Maryland/West Virginia, North Carolina/Tennessee and Idaho/Washington. He was the son of the Henry Gannett, Chief Geographer of the United States Geological Survey.

The Ohio-Michigan Boundary settled one of the most deeply disputed state lines in the United States. The granite monuments still exist today and when checked with modern survey instrumentation one can only marvel at the accuracy used to run and establish this historic state line.


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