"As false as the Black Prince of Hades": resurveying in Arkansas, 1849-1859

  • Authors: Bragg, Don C.; Webb, Tom
  • Publication Year: 2014
  • Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
  • Source: Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 73(3): 268-292


In April 1856, a surveyor named Granville McPherson, toiling in the rugged hills north of present-day Harrison, Arkansas, was growing increasingly frustrated. The source of his aggravation was a deeply flawed original land survey filed by one of his predecessors, Charles H. Pelham. Years earlier, Pelham had sworn under oath that he had faithfully executed an original survey of this area to fulfill a contract with the U.S. government's General Land Office (GLO). An accumulation of evidence suggested otherwise, however. Many in Arkansas were well aware of Pelham's surveying inadequacies. Indeed, McPherson had been hired to fix more than one of Pelham's suspect efforts. Even an untrained eye could compare the plat maps of Pelham and McPherson and quickly recognize the discrepancies. One can only imagine what McPherson might have uttered to himself if he saw fit to label this particular example of Pelham's work "as false as the Black Prince of Hades" in his official survey notes!

  • Citation: Bragg, Don C.; Webb, Tom. 2014. "As false as the Black Prince of Hades": resurveying in Arkansas, 1849-1859. Arkansas Historical Quarterly. 73(3): 268-292.
  • Keywords: history, Arkansas, Public Land Survey System
  • Posted Date: February 17, 2015
  • Modified Date: August 6, 2015
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