Before becoming an officer in the colonial militia, and eventually first president of the United States, George Washington was a land surveyor. He studied geometry as a youth: his “School Copy Book” (1745) is very similar to the manuscript survey manuals in the floor case (items 18–20). At 16, he worked as an apprentice on his first survey, and was soon making his own property surveys and maps. The map on display here was completed when he was just 18 years old.
This map shows just how simple property maps could be. It also provides an example of a metes-and-bounds description:
“Beginning at two red Oak saplin[g]s on the So[uth] side long marsh and extended thence No[rth] 60º W[est] three hundred and twenty poles [i.e., 5,280 feet] to three red Oakes in rocky limestone grove thence No[rth] 22º E[as]t two hundred poles [i.e., 3,300 feet] to 2 red Oakes & one white Oak saplin[g] near a slooping white Oak thence …”