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Stone wall found

Discussion in 'Surveying & Geomatics' started by not my real name, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. not my real name

    not my real name 3-Year Member

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    Sometimes I think surveying rural stone walls is some kind of exacting science for some. The stone wall was constructed to clear a field and the property line is a convenient place to pile the stones. It is good to know the difference.

    If there is a stone wall on land that is in a rural setting, and, that stone wall is not mentioned in the deeds as being a monument, and, in fact, there is a given (compass) bearing and distance given in the deed instead, then the intent was to make a straight line between the corners marking the land.

    If the extrinsic stone wall or a fence has been standing for many years and there is no other evidence to rely upon then there may be some reason to consider the stone wall a monument, but, to make an angle point at every slight change in direction or stone that fell out of the wall is beyond the intention of the conveyance that was made.

    It was long ago. Surveyors did their best, and, made astoundingly precise measurements with greater effort than is necessary now. The stone walls that came afterward are not made of perfectly square or even similar sized stones. They were a means to place stones that were cleared from a field in an agrarian society.

    When a deed shows evidence of being surveyed long ago, and a linear regression of all the data points taken on the location of a stone wall fit within the width of these piled stones, then, I conclude that the wall builders did a good job of following the surveyed line. The record and the intent are still a straight and surveyed line.
     
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  2. Paul in PA

    Paul in PA 7-Year Member

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    Colonial surveyors might set a stone at each corner, but it took hundreds of years of field clearing to fill out some stone rows.

    I would only call it a stone wall if it was actually laid up as a wall. The majority of stone walls were laid up prior to the Civil War by contractors that brought slave labor up from the South to work through the winter. Some NE rural attics still have steel rings to lock the shackles to on the floor.

    Some stone walls were entirely built on the subject property so you might be wrong to split the walls.

    Some stone rows were built up equally by farmers on each side. Other stone rows were only contributed to by the farmer on one side. Best evidence of that is a long plowed field on one side and a heavily wooded original forest on the other. Again you would be wrong to split the stone row.

    Then there are the most recent stone rows created by modern construction equipment clearing out multiple stone rows to turn small fields into large fields. Generally the tree row on one side of the rock row is the best evidence.

    Most confusing is where two stone rows were 1 rod apart with a farm lane between them. Farmer A's deed was to the stone row to the East of the Lane, but Farmer B cleared his field of that stone row and farmed to the West of where the lane had been.

    I would break a long straight call if the adjacent deed was of several parcels, differing bearings and an iron monument in place at the break point.

    Paul in PA
     
  3. JPH

    JPH 5-Year Member

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    Well now you're after getting into the occupation vs record. Many times stonewalls were built intentionally as the boundary, and not just as a place to throw the fieldstones.

    I'm not entirely sure that most courts would hold record M-B over an old stonewall that generally follows the deed line, whether it's mentioned or not.
     
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  4. Mark Mayer

    Mark Mayer 7-Year Member

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    That old classic, Boundaries and Landmarks, by A.C. Mulford, contains the following passage with regard to field rocks along boundary lines:

    There is one other arrangement of stones which may be regarded as a very good landmark. It is a common custom to throw the small waste stones picked up on cultivated fields under the fences which border these fields. These collections of stones often furnish an excellent method of determining the general location of a long vanished fence, as you will see by Fig. 10. The belt which they occupied is often several feet wide, and they may originally have been thrown only on one side of the fence; but they are often of the very greatest service in determining the approximate position of a boundary line. They must not become confounded with the "fence stones" among which they may lie.
     
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  5. kjypls

    kjypls 2-Year Member

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    I hear what you're saying, but allow me to play the devils advocate for a minute:

    Now the surveyor is making a problem because everyone thought it was the "wall", which has now been discounted. Your client can now claim the bird bath in Franks yard is now actually on his property because of the wall wiggle. What a precious 4 sq.ft. that turns into.

    And, that's one way neighbor wars start...

    Just because something isn't mentioned in a deed doesn't mean it's not worth its $.02 when you're doing the survey. I don't hesitate to put an angle point in a wall where I feel it's needed and appropriate for the situation.
     
  6. Hack

    Hack 6-Year Member

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    The custom in this area is to locate all the angle points.I agree some overdo it.Our field crews are instructed to just "stay on the wall" to pick the angle points.
     
  7. Peter Lothian - MA ME

    Peter Lothian - MA ME 5-Year Member

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    This is interesting, I've never heard of this practice. Do you have any references to cite on this subject? I would like to learn a bit more about the time period and locations that this took place.
     
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  8. not my real name

    not my real name 3-Year Member

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    New England states were not slave states and the amount of indentured servants was minimal.
     
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  9. Hack

    Hack 6-Year Member

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    Actually it was legal to own slaves in Massachusetts and NH until the1780s.
     
  10. Tom Adams

    Tom Adams 4-Year Member

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    I haven't dealt with stone walls a lot on boundaries (so this are just some of my thoughts). But one thing to consider is if the wall is called for then the wall is the original monument. If a wall or pile of rocks exist without being called for it is simply evidence to consider as to where the original boundary was. You need to discover the intent of the wall to best utilize it's location. I know that I am repeating what others have already said, but just throwing in my two cents worth.
     
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  11. SReeserinPA

    SReeserinPA 5-Year Member

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    Walls have been a much misaligned topic in the boundary world. Like another other type of evidence, they must be weighed out for their value in determining the location of a line. Two pet peeves of mine when dealing with stone walls are:
    1. Placing multiple 'kinks' in a line described in record as straight, but the wall is not and;
    2. Calling a stone row a stone wall, in my mind there is a difference which has value in evaluating the evidence. A stone wall is a feature that has been purposely constructed to keep something either out or in. A stone row is a linear pile of stones resulting from clearing agricultural areas. While a stone row may accomplish the function of a wall, its primary intent is different and therefore may play a part in my evaluating its weight in evidence.
    My 2 cents for the day... looking forward to other thoughts and opinions to broaden my knowledge base!

    Scott R.
     
  12. Paul in PA

    Paul in PA 7-Year Member

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    Vermont outlawed the buying and selling of slaves first in 1777. But a slave from the South was still a slave when he was in the North, which is why so many runaways were returned over the years.

    What I am talking about is Southern slave owners renting their slaves to contractors that took them North during the winter. Slaves did 30% of the work on the US Capitol Building, worked alongside freemen to build the Erie Canal, but most often did mundane and menial jobs such as picking rocks from agricultural fields.

    The call from a stone to a stone in 1752 deed, does not guarantee that a stone row was built immediately or ever. After each winter new stones would reach the surface of plowed fields. Typically the stones in rock rows are large enough to be an impediment to plowing and were removed with much labor.

    An interesting note on the US Capitol, the figure on the dome was cast as plaster in France by American sculptor, Thomas Crawford, and shipped to the US. The only person available with experience to turn that plaster into a bronze was Philip Reid a South Carolina slave. By the time it was set on the dome in 1863, Philip Reid was a free man. That bronze is called the Statue of Freedom.

    Paul in PA
     
  13. kjypls

    kjypls 2-Year Member

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    Even a simple "stone row" has frequently been supplemented by wood posts and generations of barbed wire, or, used as a "base" for a rail fence to keep the rails from sitting on the ground and rotting away.

    In those cases, it doesn't need to be built up any higher than it already is.
     
  14. Hack

    Hack 6-Year Member

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    If I read this correctly you suggest holding the ends of a wall and ignoring angle points. How do you account for any unwritten rights along the wall?
     
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  15. Paul in PA

    Paul in PA 7-Year Member

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    I'll tell you how I consider unwritten rights. Assuming you had a kink in a wall that was to your benefit. Simply by rewriting your deed to put in writing such unwritten rights you would put on notice that these rights may need to honored. Having not done so it is easy for others to assume that you have failed to protect those rights and in course may lose them.

    Paul in PA
     
  16. Hack

    Hack 6-Year Member

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    Pardon me but I'm confused Paul. Initially I thought you meant you ignore angle points if the original deed called for a straight line.
     
  17. Paul in PA

    Paul in PA 7-Year Member

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    As I stated Vermont outlawed slavery in 1777. I should have added that Vermont was a Sovereign Nation after the revolution until joining the US as a state in 1791.

    Paul in PA
     
  18. Paul in PA

    Paul in PA 7-Year Member

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    I deal with deeds that have not been rewritten in 200 plus years. There most be more evidence than a bend in a stone row. to sway from a straight line. Assume I have a 100 perch line (1650'), the adjacent land may be held in more than one parcel. As such I may find an intersecting stone row between those adjacent parcels. That is sufficient to consider a kink, because it is more than just a wandering row.

    I had one were the PQ and adjacent deed were straight lines from readily agreeable points. However there were double stone/tree rows that kinked twice. The long straight common line was on both deeds, I considered a break in the course and suggested the owner that would lose land to discuss with the neighbor who had been using the land for a considerable duration. I monumented both ends and my survey showed a straight line with an area up to 23' in width marked as land in long standing use by others. It was not in my power to kink that line and no judge has said otherwise.

    Paul in PA
     
  19. Hack

    Hack 6-Year Member

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    A bit different than how we do things here in Massachusetts. With all respect I would never apply your logic here. To begin with why would you treat "readily agreeable points" any different that the rest of the wall. You held the wall end points but not the rest of the wall. Hasn't the entirety of the wall been "readily agreed to"? I would the consider the entire wall readily agreeable and for that reason show all angle points. It's pretty simple really the walls are the best evidence of the original survey and more importantly they have been agreed to and acquiesced to for hundreds of years.
     
  20. Tom Adams

    Tom Adams 4-Year Member

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    Do you have to show a bearing change for every perceived kink in the wall? If you go "along a wall that bears xx°xx'xx" from end to end", isn't that calling the wall as the line? (Not arguing, just asking)
     

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