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Surveying Land

As settlers began to arrive in Iowa, first they needed to buy land. The federal government had to measure and map the land before it could be sold. This process is called surveying.

When the land was surveyed it was laid out in townships. A township is a square section of land that measures six miles by six miles.

Each township contained 36 sections. Each section was 640 acres or one mile by one mile.

Division of a township - 36 sections, starting with 1 in the upper right hand corner.

But a pioneer farmer couldn't plant a whole section. Most pioneer settlers started with 80 acres. That way several pioneer families would live on a single section of land.

When the government had surveyed the land, they set up a land office where they sold the land at auctions.

Land usually sold for $1.25 per acre. That was a lot of money in the 1830s and 1840s.

Another way the settlers got their land was from the railroad companies. The government gave railroad companies the land to encourage them to build railroad lines in the new territories.

The railroad companies would sell some of it to farmers for a much higher rate. They advertised the land sales with beautiful posters describing the land and the terms of payment.

By 1842, nearly half of the state of Iowa had been surveyed and was open for pioneer settlement.

See if you can solve the following History Detective Challenge Questions.


History Detective Continued...

 

 
   
  For Students:
Introduction Quick Facts Pioneer Homes
Scavenger Hunt Life as a Pioneer History Detective
Mystery Photo Pioneer Library
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