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decree entered: January 18, 1897.



Author: Fuller

[ 165 U.S. Page 118]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER announced the decree of the court.

This cause coming on to be heard on the application of the State of Missouri, the State of Iowa consenting thereto, for decree on the report of James Harding, Peter A. Dey and Dwight C. Morgan, commissioners appointed by decretal order herein on February 3, 1896, to find and re-mark with proper and durable monuments such portions of the proper boundary line between the States of Missouri and Iowa, as run, marked and located by Hendershott and Minor, commissioners of this court, under the orders and decrees of this court of February 13, 1849, and January 3, 1851, as have become obliterated, especially between the fiftieth and fifth-fifth mile posts on the same; and it appearing that a difference of opinion has arisen in respect of certain allowances to be included in the expenses incurred in re-marking said boundary line, it is ordered by the court that Commissioner Morgan be allowed his per diem for forty-six days' services, and that the account of expenses attached to said report be completed by the addition of that per diem in favor of said commissioner, and that said report as so completed in that particular be and the same is hereby in all things confirmed, as follows:

[ 165 U.S. Page 119]

     "To the honorable the Supreme Court of the United States:

"The undersigned, commissioners, appointed by the decree of your honorable court dated February 3, 1896, to find and re-mark with proper and durable monuments such portions of the boundary line between the States of Missouri and Iowa, run, marked and located by Hendershott and Minor in accordance with decree of your honorable court dated Jan. 3, 1851, as have become obliterated, especially between the fiftieth and fifty-fifth mile posts on said line, etc., respectfully submit the following report:

"On the 27th day of February last the commissioners met in the city of Chicago and fully discussed matters pertinent to the proper performance of the duties imposed upon them. Construing the decree as applying to all portions of the boundary line in question, the commissioners decided to advertise in newspapers published in counties in Missouri and Iowa adjacent to the boundary for information regarding such parts of said line as were in dispute or had become obliterated. This was done and considerable information elicited, but as the officials of one of the States interested declined to authorize the work necessary in retracing the line, excepting where directed in the decree, nothing was done beyond the finding and re-marking 'with proper and durable monuments' such portions of the line as was necessary for its proper relocation between the 40th and 60th mile points, as shown hereinafter.

"After careful consideration it was decided to apply to Gen'l W. W. Duffield, superintendent U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey, for a detail from his corps of assistants to perform all field-work necessary in carrying out the instructions of the court. It was decided that the employment of expert officers of the Geodetic Survey corps for the services required would result more satisfactorily to the States concerned than would the selection of any private parties, as the high professional attainments of these officers and their freedom from any possible bias regarding the boundary line to be established were ample guarantees for the entire reliability and impartiality of any work done by them.

"Correspondence was accordingly had with Gen'l Duffield,

[ 165 U.S. Page 120]

     who consented to detail two of his assistants, and also to supply them with a complete outfit of all instruments and appliances necessary in the prosecution of the proposed work. This offer was at once accepted. A meeting was afterwards had in St. Louis March 11th, ult; when it was decided to meet at Lineville, Iowa, a point immediately upon the boundary line between Missouri and Iowa, for the purpose of personal investigation as to the proper point or points at which to commence operations. Two of the commissioners accordingly met at Lineville on March 18th, ult., and spent three days in the examination of the boundary line and of points on said line claimed to have been established by Hendershott and Minor in 1850. The first step taken was to decide regarding the proper points between which our work of relocation of that part of the line designated in the decree of your honorable court, namely, from the 50th to the 55th mile points on the Hendershott and Minor line, should be commenced. It appeared to us that the cast-iron monuments placed by Hendershott and Minor at intervals of ten miles would naturally be more reliable than any traditional points, and the first investigations were made as regarding the 40th, 50th and 60th mile points, these being originally marked by Hendershott and Minor with iron monuments as stated. After careful examination and much inquiry the commissioners were satisfied that the monuments marking the 40th and 60th mile points were in their original positions. As regarded the monument at the 50th mile point, whilst no positive evidence could be had as to its removal from its original position, the rumors and statements were such as to render its reliability a matter of doubt, and it was, therefore, determined to use the monuments at the 40th and 60th mile points as fixed points between which to relocate the boundary line.

"It was subsequently arranged for the commissioners to meet at Davis City, Iowa, a point on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad adjacent to the 40th mile point, where it was proposed to commence work. Gen'l Duffield was accordingly notified, and on Wednesday, April 8th, ult., the commissioners reached Davis City and met Messrs. W. C. Hodgkins

[ 165 U.S. Page 121]

     (in charge of work) and A. L. Baldwin, of the U.S. Geodetic Survey corps, detailed as per arrangements made with Gen'l Duffield. These gentlemen brought with them a very complete outfit of instruments of the best description used in geodetic work, including all necessary equipment for astronomical observations as well as field-work. We proceeded to the 40th mile point on the afternoon of April 8th, ult., and arranged for the commencement of work the following day. On April 9th, ult., a party for field-work having been organized and the necessary teams and wagons hired, the entire party proceeded to Pleasanton, Iowa, a point situated immediately on the boundary line just east of the 45th mile point. Pleasanton and Lineville subsequently became the bases of operation, our parties changing from one of these points to the other as the necessities of the work required.

"Work was commenced at the 40th mile point, as arranged. It soon became quite evident that the actual boundary line as indicated by points shown and satisfactorily identified differed from the line as would be established by the field-notes of the Hendershott and Minor survey. In order that the relative positions of the actual mile points between the 40th and 60th mile points could be properly determined, and also their true relation to the theoretical points as found in accordance with the courses and distances shown in Hendershott's report, it was deemed necessary to establish a chord or base line twenty miles in length between the 40th and 60th iron monuments to which all points actually found and definitely located or shown and claimed as being upon the boundary line could be referred and from which all points finally determined could be accurately located. For the details of the actual field-work and its results we respectfully refer to the accompanying report of Mr. W. C. Hodgkins, in charge of party (Appendix A). It is proper here to state that the field-work, done as it was in accordance with the precise methods of the U.S. Geodetic Surveys, was necessarily very slow and tedious, but its accuracy, in our opinion, cannot be questioned. The measurement of the twenty-mile base line involved a very great amount of labor, whilst the computations necessary in the

[ 165 U.S. Page 122]

     exact reduction of the measurements were also very laborious. Complete topographical notes were also taken for the entire work, but the commissioners have deemed it unnecessary to have maps prepared, as their preparation would involve a considerable expense without any corresponding benefit. The very unfavorable weather during a great portion of May and a part of June interfered seriously with the prosecution of the field-work, causing a delay of from two to three weeks.

"Careful examination was made in every instance for the precise location of the original Hendershott and Minor mile points, but out of twenty-one of these points included in the survey only nine, including three iron monuments, could be satisfactorily identified. The 42d, 43d, 44th, 49th, 54th and 58th mile points were identified and located by evidence entirely satisfactory to the commissioners. As regards the 50th mile point (iron monument), concerning the reliability of which doubt had existed, the commissioners are satisfied that it is very little, if at all, out of its original position -- its relation to the 49th mile point (which was clearly identified as Hendershott's original point) as determined by the base line confirming our judgment. After the work of relocation had commenced and preliminary work on the twenty-mile base well advanced, statements were made to the commissioners to the effect that the iron monument at the 60th mile point had at one time been moved from its original position. This being a matter of importance -- the monument in question being considered as a fixed point in establishing the base line -- an inquiry was had regarding it and a considerable amount of testimony heard. This testimony was very conflicting, but after its careful consideration and the prolongation of the base line some four miles eastward of the 60th mile point the commissioners were satisfied that the monument was occupying its original position.

"The location of the 52d mile point was more difficult and involved a much more extended investigation than for any point established by the commissioners. It was claimed and strongly urged that the original 52d mile point as established by Hendershott and Minor was at a point witnessed by two

[ 165 U.S. Page 123]

     trees -- an elm and an oak -- which trees, as well as a point established from them in accordance with Hendershott and Minor field-notes, were shown. The field-notes regarding this point and also the 53d mile point are as follows:


"'80.00 Set 52d mile post.

Bearings, elm 18 inches diameter, N. 87 4/1 degrees E. 10 2/1 links; burr oak 12 inches diameter, S. 22 degrees W. 28 links.'


"'N. 88 degrees 47 E.'


"'0.30 A pond 250 links wide; direction of its length, N. & S.

5.00 Prairie.

15.00 Timber.

30.00 Field (Stokes') fence, nearly N. & S.

57.50 Left field.

80.00 Set 53d mile post. Bearings, black oak 8" diameter, S. 53 degrees E. 15 links; black oak 6" diameter, N. 53 degrees E. 64 links.'

"The trees shown and claimed as being the original witness trees for Hendershott and Minor's 52d mile point agree very well with the field-notes as regards their distance from the 51st mile point, and also as to their relative positions to each other. The distances and bearings of these trees from the point shown and claimed as the original Hendershott mile point also agree with the field-notes closely. Beyond these coincidences, however, there is, in our judgment, nothing whatsoever to warrant a conclusion that they were ever marked as witness trees by Hendershott and Minor. In their report (10th Howard, pages 15 and 16) they state: 'In timber the number of the mile is marked on the witness trees with the letter appropriate to each State, there being one tree marked on each side of the line whenever possible. The foot of each witness tree is marked with the letters "BL."' The oak tree shown and claimed to be a witness tree for the 52d

[ 165 U.S. Page 124]

     mile point had a large 'blaze' on its trunk about five feet from the ground. Nothing whatever could be ascertained by the commissioners to in any manner indicate what, if any, marking had been inscribed on the blaze, nor could any information be had concerning such marking. At the foot of this tree, facing N. 45 degrees E., is to be seen a blaze on which is plainly discernible the letters 'B X.' The blaze on the trunk of the tree faced directly east, whilst the point to which it is claimed to refer is but 22 degrees east of north from the tree. It is the universal custom of surveyors in marking witness trees, so far as the experience of the commissioners goes, to make such marks to as to face as nearly as possible the point witnessed. The 'B X' mark faces certainly 25 degrees east, and the blaze on trunk of tree 68 degrees east of the point claimed to be witnessed. Measurements of the 'X' mark at base of tree are as follows, in tenths of one foot:


"The mark inclining to the left extends above the letter 'B' and is quite close to the upper curved line. The mark inclining to the right runs closely to the lower part of the 'B.' It would have been quite as practicable to have cut a letter 'L' as an 'X' on the blaze found at foot of this tree, and the commissioners were not prepared to accept this letter 'X' as an 'L' without stronger corroborative evidence than they could obtain. This tree, if marked by Hendershott and Minor, must have been so marked forty-six years ago. A section of the tree at a point eight feet above the ground, the tree being very uniform in size, from three feet above the ground for eight to nine feet above, was cut and sent to Prof. McBride, botanical expert at the University of Iowa, for his opinion (as expert) as to its age, &c.

"In a letter from him to Commissioner Dey, May 19th, 1896, he states;

[ 165 U.S. Page 125]

     "'I judge that the tree when felled was 70 years old. Its history runs about as follows: 59 years ago it received an injury (blaze?) of which a scar persists. The tree at the time was about 11 years (11-16) old, and not to exceed, bark included, 3 4/1 inches thick. I say about 11 years, for it takes some years not recorded on the section for a tree to attain six feet in height. 25 years later the tree had added about 2 2/1 inches to its radius. The next 17 years a little more than one inch to the radius, making the diameter of the wood (bark not counted) about 8 4/1 to 8 2/1 inches. Since this another inch of wood has been added to the radius. Calling this 17 years, (it is more rather than less, as the annual increment is constantly smaller,) we have the total since the scar, 59 years.'

"This oak tree, as shown by Prof. McBride, at a point where section examined by him was cut, was 8 4/1 to 8 2/1 inches in diameter when 53 to 58 years old. Being 70 to 75 years old, it would have been 24 to 29 years old in 1850, and its diameter where blaze was found could not have exceeded 5 inches. As the blaze shows a face of fully eight inches, it is evident it could not have been cut on a tree with a diameter of only five inches. The diameter of this tree at base, where 'B X' mark was found, is now 15 inches. Applying the proportionate growth of tree as shown by Prof. McBride, and its diameter at base could not have exceeded 8.5 inches 46 years ago, and its size was not sufficient to have received the blaze now shown.

"Regarding the elm tree, also claimed to be a witness tree for the original Hendershott 52d mile point. This tree also has a large blaze about four feet from the ground. Nothing whatever was shown to prove that it ever had any mark upon it (prior to the time of a private survey made in 1893) other than the characters 'S 28.' The latter 'S,' if it ever existed, is now totally obliterated. The figure '2' is still plainly discernible, and a part of the upper portion of a figure '8' to the right of the '2' can also be traced. Nothing was shown to prove that it was ever marked at its base with the letters 'B L,' as it should have been were it a Hendershott witness

[ 165 U.S. Page 126]

     tree. Diligent search had evidently been made at some time for this mark, as is plainly evidenced by the chopping at its base, and had the proper marks ever been found it is quite certain the fact would have been in evidence before the commissioners.

"The Hendershott notes show that at 30 links eastward of the 52d mile point the bank of a pond was reached, and that the pond itself was 250 links in width, making a distance of 280 links from the 52d mile point to the east bank of pond. The bank of this pond directly east of the 52d mile point, claimed to be witnessed by the 'elm and oak,' has evidently moved eastward to some extent since 1850, as shown by present conditions. Measurements made by the commissioners show that 280 links eastward from the point claimed as the Hendershott 52d mile point reach a point 59 links east of the present bank of the pond. Thirty chains east of their 52d mile point, as seen by their notes, the Hendershott line crossed the 'Stokes' field fence. The line of this fence is still plainly visible. A line straight from the 52d mile point, claimed to be witnessed by the 'elm and oak,' to the 54th mile point will pass at least 70 feet south of the 'Stokes' fence line, as noted by Hendershott. For more than thirty years, and after the establishing of the boundary line by Hendershott and Minor, it is claimed a road was maintained and worked as a Missouri road between the 52d and 54th mile points, and that until within the past five years this fact was never questioned. It is claimed that the line recognized by parties living on both sides of the boundary as being the Hendershott line since his survey and until within the past few years is now plainly shown for a very considerable distance between the 52d and 53d mile points by the line of what is known as the 'Fugate' fence line. It is claimed this fence was put up by one Fugate, the owner of land in and a resident of Iowa (and who was also a surveyor), and who, living as he did close to the line and present when the Hendershott survey was made, probably knew where the true line was and placed his fence on that line. This line very closely agrees with a line running directly from Sullivan's 52d mile point to the 54th mile point,

[ 165 U.S. Page 127]

     the last named having been satisfactorily identified and located by the commissioners. It is claimed to be improbable that Fugate placed his fence north of the proper line.

"The commissioners most carefully considered all the conditions relating to the point claimed to be the Hendershott 52d mile point and witnessed by the 'elm and oak,' but the more the matter was weighed the stronger became their conclusion that the trees mentioned could not have been the witness trees as claimed. Coincidences of position constitute their claim. It is proper here to state that within a short distance to the north of the 52d mile point as established by the commissioners are the stumps of an elm and burr oak which agree as well as do the other elm and oak as to distance from the 51st mile point, better as to topographical conditions, and are very similar as to the relative position required by the field-notes for the witnesses to the 52d mile point. The commissioners have no idea that these stumps referred to were those of Hendershott's witness trees, but make this statement to show that coincidences such as shown by the 'elm and oak' are not impossible. To have crossed the 'Stokes' fence, in a distance of 30 chains, starting from the supposititious 52d mile point claimed to be witnessed by the elm and oak, an angle of at least 2 degrees to the left would have been necessary, and also another angle to the right equally great in order to run directly to the 54th mile point. Hendershott's notes make no mention of any such angles. The angle recorded as having been made at the 52d mile point was 29' to the north, the course having been changed, according to the Hendershott notes, from N. 89 degrees 16' E. to N. 88 degrees 47' E. We are satisfied, from personal investigation and from points found and referred to our base line, that the original Sullivan line can be readily traced from his 51st mile point to his 52d mile point, and we believe it very probable that the Hendershott line between the 52d and 54th mile points is nearly identical with the Sullivan line. Whilst we did not adopt the Sullivan line between the points named, very good reasons could have been given for doing so. The Hendershott notes make no mention of Sullivan's line after leaving his 49th mile

[ 165 U.S. Page 128]

     point until his 54th mile point was reached. They make no mention of finding Sullivan's 52d mile point or of any trees on his line; but they say in their report (page 4, 10th Howard Report) that they 'discovered abundant blazes and many witness tress which enabled us to find and re-mark the said (Sullivan) line as directed by the court.' Also on page 7, same report, it is stated: 'But in heavy bodies of timber no difficulty was experienced in discovering evidences of the precise location of the (Sullivan) line, not only by blazes, but by line and witness trees.' (Italics are ours.) And on the same page, 'The general topography of the country, and especially the crossing of the streams, greatly facilitated us in following the line, and in some instances, when confirmed by the old blazes, enabled us to establish it with sufficient certainty.' Commencing some ten chains east of the 51st mile point, the country through which the boundary line passes was and is heavily timbered, and as before stated, the Sullivan line in the timber is at this time readily to be found. The inference that the Hendershott line eastward from the 51st mile was nearly identical with the Sullivan line is quite as strong as the contrary, notwithstanding no mention is made by Hendershott of the Sullivan line after leaving a point 6.20 chains east of the 49th mile point until reaching the 54th mile point.

"The Sullivan line, between the 51st and 52d mile points, as shown by his field-notes, crossed the east fork of Grand River (now called Weldon) three times. This line now, by reason of changes in the bed of the stream, will cross the Weldon five times. With the exception of the 'elm and oak,' there were no traditional or apparent evidences claimed as indicating the original location of the Hendershott and Minor 52d mile point. A line run eastward with the bearings given by the Hendershott notes from their 51st mile point would pass at least 40 feet south of the point indicated by the 'elm and oak.' A line run eastward, as per the Hendershott notes, from the point claimed as the Hendershott and Minor 52d mile point would pass at least 90 feet south of their 54th mile point. The commissioners carefully considered all the comparatively authentic traces of the Hendershott line, together

[ 165 U.S. Page 129]

     with the topographical conditions given in the notes of the survey. Between the 53d and 54th mile points were found evidences of the Hendershott line, which were satisfactory, and the line established by us was run from the 54th mile point, which, as before stated, was identified, directly to the 52d mile point and passing through the points found between the 53d and 54th mile points. The Hendershott notes show a line direct from the 52d to the 54th mile point.

"The line, as finally established and marked by us, between the 52d and 53d mile points is north of the boundary line as claimed for Iowa and south of that line as claimed by Missouri, and, as it happens, very nearly equally divides the narrow territory in dispute, although there was no intention to compromise the difference. We are satisfied that the line, as established by us between the 53d and 54th mile points, is very nearly, if not identical with, the original Hendershott line and in accordance with the marks of that survey. The same line was produced to the 52d mile point, notwithstanding it passes considerably south of the plainly indicated Sullivan line. The 52d mile point, as established and marked by us, was placed as nearly as possible in accordance with the notes of the Hendershott survey, evidenced by the width of the pond and also its distance from the 'Stokes' fence line.

"The field-notes of the Hendershott and Minor survey show as follows:

"At 6.30 chains eastward from the Hendershott 42d mile point Sullivan's 42d mile point was found and course changed at that point from N. 88 degrees 53' E. to N. 89 degrees 06' E.

"6.37 chains eastward of Hendershott's 43d mile point Sullivan's 43d mile point was found and course changed at that point from N. 89 degrees 16' E. to N. 89 degrees 47' E.

"7.00 chains eastward of Hendershott's 44th mile point Sullivan's 44th mile point was found and course changed at that point from N. 89 degrees 47' E. to N. 89 degrees 9' E.

"6.20 chains eastward from Hendershott's 49th mile point Sullivan's 49th mile point was found and course changes at that point from N. 89 degrees 9' E. to N. 89 degrees 16' E.

"4.07 chains eastward of Hendershott's 54th mile point

[ 165 U.S. Page 130]

     Sullivan's 54th mile point was found and course changed at that point from N. 89 degrees 16' E. to N. 89 degrees 2' E.

"2.53 chains eastward of Hendershott's 58th mile point Sullivan's 58th mile point was found and course changed at that point from N. 89 degrees 2' E. to N. 89 degrees 27' E.

"In each instance it will be seen that the Hendershott courses are changed at the Sullivan mile points. The decree of your honorable court made January 3, 1851, declared that the line should be direct between each Hendershott mile point, and it is evident that the actual courses between the points referred to above are not in accordance with the recorded courses. It was found by reference to our base line in all cases where the field-notes show a straight line between such points that when the distance recorded as a straight line was two or more miles the line is actually a curve. The ordinates measured from the base line do not show any regular rate of curvature, and the curves themselves swing to the south and then to the north, the base line crossing the boundary line three times in twenty miles. The greatest distance of base line from boundary line is at the 55th mile point, which is about 427 feet north of base. The 46th mile point is 160 feet sough and the 60th mile point 153 feet south of base.

"It is difficult to account for the discrepancies found between the recorded line as shown in Hendershott's notes and the line actually found. It is quite possible that the irregularities either grew out of the inaccuracy of the solar compass used on the surve or an inaccurate use of the instrument itself.

"We were surprised at the facility with which the Sullivan line could at the time of our survey be traced for considerable distances along the twenty miles of line included in our operations. Of twenty-one mile points from the 40th to the 60th, inclusive, Sullivan had witness trees for fifteen. Some of these witness trees can now be found, and also well defined line trees mentioned by him. On Hendershott's line only eight mile points out of the twenty-one referred to were witnessed by trees. Had the care shown by Sullivan in marking his line been exercised by Hendershott and Minor the line of the latter would have been much more fully

[ 165 U.S. Page 131]

     and satisfactorily defined. The hurried manner in which the work of the Hendershott survey was performed (151 miles of relocation, in addition to random lines, having been accomplished in 30 days) may in some measure account for the great lack of witness trees and other evidences necessary for an actual location of the boundary line of 1850. We are inclined to the opinion that, so far as regards the twenty miles mentioned, the Sullivan line can be as readily relocated as can the Hendershott line.

"The decree of your honorable court requires that the line relocated by us shall be marked with durable monuments. Twenty-one mile points included in the line relocated, being from the 40th to the 60th mile, inclusive, are now marked as required. The 40th, 50th and 60th miles are marked with the cast-iron monuments originally placed by Hendershott and Minor, in 1850. Mile points intermediate are marked with stone monuments. These are of the best quality of Missouri red granite, are twelve inches square, and from 6' 2" to 6' 6" in length. The stones stand 2' above ground (this portion being hammer-dressed) and are well finished in every particular. On the north side of each stone is plainly cut the word 'Iowa,' on the south side the word 'Missouri,' on the east side the words 'State line,' and on the west the figures denoting the number of the mile point.

"The iron monuments were reset so as to show about 18 inches above ground. The granite monuments were set with great care, their apices being exactly on the line. They were well rammed when placed in ground and will need no witness trees. Their weight averages 1050 pounds each, and we think they can safely be pronounced both durable and permanent. The amount paid for them includes all freight charges and expenses of delivery and setting.

"Attached hereto (Appendix 'B') is a statement of the expenses consequent upon the relocation and marking that portion of the boundary line between the 40th and 60th mile points, which statement is respectfully submitted for the action of your honorable body.

"Attached hereto (Appendix 'C') is a photograph of the

[ 165 U.S. Page 132]

     section of the oak tree examined and reported on by Prof. McBride.

"JAMES HARDING, "Comm'r for Missouri.

"PETER A. DEY, "Comm'r for Iowa.


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