One cool day in October of 1978, Maurice DeCamp and Barb Surbrook set out to find the Township Cornerstone
Maurice knew about where it was, so Barb drove to Cooper Road to the location, walking on foot Barb and Maurice walked down fence lines, through dumps, through swamps, woods, around a pond, with no luck of finding it. They were getting ready to leave when they saw a large gatepost. This had to be it!
They were so happy they took pictures of it, had them developed, and to their dismay it was not the one. So, when Barb called John Blair to see if he knew where it was located, he said, “Yes Come over,” so Ruth Foster, John Blair, and Barb Surbrook started anew their venture of looking for the cornerstone, but this time they had plat maps. First, they tried to reach it by Territorial Road on Bill Robeson’s farm, but had no luck so Barb suggested they go back to where they had searched before. With the help of John and his Jeep and the plat maps, they finally found it – just about 300 yards from where Maurice and Barb had been earlier.
Meridian-Baseline State Park is a 108-acre state park in Ingham County and Jackson County, Michigan, that contains the intersection of the Michigan meridian and the baseline used for the Michigan Survey. The park has two monuments that show where the two mismatched baselines meet the principal meridian at the North Initial Point and South Initial Point.
Although the site was landlocked for many years, in 2014, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources acquired additional property allowing public access from Meridian Road near the Jackson-Ingham county line. Improvements made at the site included trail clearing and construction of a 10-car parking lot. After road signs, trail markers, and a bridge over the creek were added, the State of Michigan in conjunction with Ingham and Jackson counties, opened the new access to the park on October 12, 2015. In 2016, an additional boardwalk was completed in the wetlands near the markers.
The first Surveying in Michigan starts at the “Cornerstone Township.” Congress created the Northwest Territories in 1787 and from part of this expansion, present day Michigan was carved. Native Americans occupying the eastern side of the state were influenced into the 1807 Detroit treaty. They signed away their land titles along the eastern side of Michigan. After the treaty they were moved farther west.
It wasn’t until after the War of 1812 that the new lands acquired by government treaties were surveyed. Joseph Fletcher, Benjamin Hough, Alexander Wampler and Joseph Wampler as deputies of the Surveyor General were among other men that did the original work. They were paid $3 to $4 a day as they established a north-south principle meridian. A mid-state line covering 334 miles, starting at Fort Defiance, Ohio, ran through what is now Jackson County and continued on up the state to Sault Ste. Marie.
An east-west baseline was needed to begin surveying. It would run across the state along the tops of the second row of southern Michigan counties. Running from north of Detroit at Lake St. Clair 172 miles across the state to South Haven. The baseline intersects the principle meridian in Jackson County at the northeast corner of Rives Township.
Because of the errors made in Michigan’s original baseline surveying in 1815, that were later corrected in an 1824 survey, there are two places the baselines insect the principal meridian. Today, the two baseline intersections are spaced 936 feet apart at the principal meridian line. They are referred to by surveyors as the North and South Initial Points. From these exact North and South Initial Points on the principle meridian line, the Public Land Survey System of Michigan was established.
All of the six-mile square townships with their 36 one-mile square sections across the entire state from the southwest corner on Lake Michigan to Port Hope on Lake Huron in the Thumb to the counties across the Upper Peninsula, surveying started at these exact North and South Initial Points where the principle meridian and baselines meet. In a land locked, undeveloped, Meridian-baseline State Park in Rives Township.