Solomon Meredith and the Initial Point of Montana (4 of 13)

Department of the Interior
General Land Office
May 9, 1867

Solomon Meredith Esq
Surveyor General
Helena Montana Terry
Pursuant to the provision by the 1st section of the act approved 2nd March 1867 "to create the office of Surveyor General in the Territory of Montana to create and establish a land office in the Territories of Montana and Arizona" you have been appointed Surveyor General of that Territory. Your salary is $3000 per annum, to begin when you shall have actually entered on duty.

1st Your powers, authority, and duties as declared by the said act to be the same as those prescribed by law for the Surveyor General of Oregon, with allowances for clerk time office rent, and fuel like that now given to the Surveyor General of that State.

The first section of the Act--approved May 26, 1864 to "provide a temporary government for the Territory of Montana" U. S. Statutes at Large Vol 13, page 86--designates the boundaries. To that act you are referred for information as to.

2nd The limits of your Surveying District--which are further represented on the diagram "A" herewith

No surveys of the public lands having yet been established in Montana and in the absence of precise knowledge of the topographical features of the country as the most inviting in agricultural facilities and Mineral Lands it is not now deemed proper to indicate to you the particular locality for surveys. It is desired however, that the field operations should be carried on in such portions of the Territory as are now most occupied and settled, and those most likely to attract immigration of Agriculturalists, or which will be required for mining purposes.

3d Your first duty will be to determine the Initial point of surveys, or the point for the intersection of a Principal Base with the Principal Meridian line to govern all the public surveys in Montana. It is desired that "Beaver Head Rock," a remarkable land mark overhanging the river of that name be selected as the initial point of the surveys, unless a more prominent and suitable point exists. It is situated in the center of the largest valley in the Great Horse Shoe Basin of the Rocky Mountains drained by the Jefferson Madison and Gallatin Forks of the Missouri river. The stage road from Bannock to Virginia City passes bythe rock which is reported to be about midway between those two places, and the Rock is said to be visible for fifty miles up and down the stream and hence eminently suitable for the Initial point of the public surveys in Montana.

4th The surveys must be made in accordance with the printed Manual of Instructions herewith marked "B" dated February 22d 1855 and the supplement of June 1, 1864 with the modification of that part of the former relating to the numbering of fractional subdivisions of lands as illustrated on diagram "B" accompanying the Manual, the modification being represented on diagram "C" herewith.

5th In order to accomodate Miners or claimants on mineral lands under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved July 26, 1866, herewith transmitted together with circular of instructions dated January 19, 1867 you will after first extending the lines of public surveys to such portions of the mining regions proceed to survey the mining claims in strict conformity to the law and these instructions the expense thereof at the cost of claimants.

6th The several amounts of the existing appropriations made by Congress for the surveying services in Montana are available as follows:

1st For compensation of the Surveyor General per act approved July 26, 1866 ..... $3000

2nd For compensation of clerks in office of Surveyor General appropriationis made for five thousand dollars but the Oregon organic act act is made by law applicable to Montana and that act only allows -----) ..... $4000
for the whole fiscal year to be accounted for in quarterly expenditures, and of course restricted to the requirements of offial business.

3rd For office rent, messenger, office furniture stationery, books fuel and other incidental expenses of Surveyor General's office as per act of July 28, 1866 ..... $3000

4th For surveying the public land in Montana at rates not exceeding $15 per mile for standard lines, $12 for township lines and $10 for section lines vis
Per act approved July 2d 1864 ..... $10000
by act approved July 28 1866 ....... $15000
............................................................. $25000

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The Best Kept Secrets in Montana Surveying Law
Curtis M. Brown, Land Surveyor and Author
How to Live in the Woods
Land Boundary Monuments, Past and Present
Solomon Meredith and the Initial Point of Montana