General Land Office Surveys as a Source for Arkansas History: The Example of Ashley County
Deputy surveyor Caleb Langtree's rather bleak assessment of a landscape in southern Arkansas captures the struggle that was the General Land Office (GLO) survey. Charged with laying the foundation for settlement of territories ceded to the nation, the surveyors that traversed the public domain of the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries toiled under adverse and outright dangerous conditions. In addition to establishing the basis of land subdivision used to this day in most of the U.S., this pioneering effort was critical to regional and national development. The work of the GLO mapped previously uncharted territories, evaluated settlement potential, and propelled vast numbers of people to remote and wild sections of America.