Have you ever wondered what your land looked like way back when? Before the settlers came and the land was still virgin? Historic land records provide numerous clues to the natural landscape and vegetation that once dominated our Earth.
If you happen to be in the Fox Valley area on January 28th, plan to attend the Toward Harmony with Nature conference in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to hear the Surly Surveyor’s morning keynote presentation about the historic records and maps of the first public land survey. The Surly Surveyor will take us on a journey through Wisconsin and the Fox Valley’s presettlement landscape and describe the land and the vegetation encountered along the way.
Later in the day, the Surly Surveyor will conduct a second session that will focus on how to access and interpret the Wisconsin Historic Land Records as a part of our planning for gardens and restoration projects using native plants communities.
The Surly Surveyor is based on the work of the General Land Office surveyors from the early 1800s who traversed the Wisconsin pre-settlement landscape to make a Public Land Survey. The records and maps of the Public Land Survey provide a glimpse of Wisconsin’s landscape just prior to the extensive changes brought on by European settlement.
Rob Nurre, through the eyes of the Surly Surveyor, will show us how historic land records can provide reference points from which to assess landscape changes that have occurred in the past two centuries.
For a number of years, Rob worked as the Land Records Manager for the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands which holds the original land survey records for the State. In that role, Rob led the efforts to make some quarter million pages of these early Wisconsin survey notes and thousands of related maps available on-line.
Nurre has also worked as a consultant to the federal Bureau of Land Management, the successor agency of the original US General Land Office. Most recently, he has focused his attention on the preservation and care for the Effigy Mounds created by the Native People of Wisconsin approximately one thousand years ago, and which were occasionally recorded in historic land records.
Many states have this same type of historical land survey data available. Keywords are historic land survey records.