July 16, 2015

Living history Farms is enjoyment to hold House & Home, a travel exhibit arranged by NEH on the Road, with August 11, 2015. The exhibit encourages visitors to discover how our right of the perfect house and our suffer of what it means to “be in ~ home” have readjusted over time. The exhibit likewise explores what renders a team of residences into a community. Farmer Kelly, supervisor at the 1900 Horse-powered Farm, to be surprised that “town kids” didn’t realize how rural areas found identity in townships, sections, and quarter sections. Perform you understand what provides up a township? let’s consult the maps and also Kelly’s expertise! She says:

Growing increase in rural Iowa, ns have always had a strong understanding the what a “country mile” is, and the concepts of townships and sections. I distinctly remember life in People’s Township as a kid, going through my parents to their tiny polling location that was just for our township, and exploring People’s Cemetery near my house. Today, ns live in street Grove Township. For this reason what are sections and also townships? Well, if girlfriend lay out a grid over the map of Iowa with one mile in between every line, the square miles created are called sections. Townships are commonly made up of teams of 36 sections—so a six mile by 6 mile square. The townships room named, and also numbered. Each individual section breaks evenly into four 160-acre chunks – dubbed quarter sections.

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This network was part of a national surveying plan arisen in America’s infancy. The floor Ordinance action of 1785 produced this rectangle-shaped survey device to assist establish land property boundaries. Well-known as the public Land inspection System, the 6 mile townships, each split into 36 sections (each a square mile), permit for better description that boundaries. This added to the median farm dimension in Iowa in the 1900 era being 160 acres, together each section split nicely into four ranches of controlled size because that the modern technology available to many farmers the the time. Have you ever heard someone describe the “back forty”? If so, this term additionally has to execute with sections and also that 160-acre average. The 160-acre farm yard breaks nicely into 4 40-acre chunks called quarter-quarter sections, so that “back forty” describes the farthest out 40-acre quarter-quarter section of the farm–as you watch in this diagram native www.Familysearch.org.


Let’s get to the fun stuff – the pictures. Plat Maps space maps of counties, mirroring township divisions and numbered sections. It offers us a great overhead see of farm sizes and how those farm sizes follow ar lines. Historical plat maps help us with research study for the museum. Looking at historical plats and atlases shows that many, plenty of farms were, in fact, 160 acres, in the year 1900. Here’s a section of the Plat Map of Washington Township in Greene County, Iowa from 1896, where a farmer named Thomas Terrill lived. He retained over 40 year worth of diaries, from the moment he was 21 it rotates he died in 1912. The museum has copies of this diaries in our source library, and they are provided as primary sources for historical information. Check out if girlfriend can discover his farm.


Some points to note around this snapshot – there are a couple of farms that are specifically 160 acres, but nearly all are parcels of soil in also fractions that 640. Smaller bordering parcels of soil are also sometimes own by world with the exact same surname – presumably family members that had actually been given or sold a part of the farm. There room two college districts comprised of 4 sections each and also their particular schools presented on this piece of the map. The colleges are only two miles apart, however that supposed that they were within walking distance of every students.

Plat Maps can also show changes in population and soil ownership. The last collection of photos I’ll share v you is of whereby the farmhouse in ~ the 1900 Farm site was originally built in relation to whereby it sits now. Below is the current day Google satellite image. The existing location of the residence at the museum is roughly under the “9” of ar 29 ~ above the map, in the lower left.


Here is the exact same area in 1970, simply a few years prior to the house was relocated to its existing location. The red starred white area top top the west next of section 9 is the house’s initial farmstead.

And the exact same area in 1930.

That’s as far back as the aerial imagery goes, yet here is the plat map that the same area native 1902. The house was top top the Ida Hughes package in section 9, which is 120 acres. Pretty close to the 160-acre average. Again, the house today sits practically exactly under the 9 of ar 29. The owner of many of the soil in part 28 and also 29 should additionally be familiar if did you do it visited united state before.


As you have the right to see, rural areas were kind laid out, v schools and churches conveniently located and easy-to-measure parcels that land. Households in these areas related to the township boundaries, simply as town families relate come towns, neighborhoods and also precincts. Farm families still have that feeling of location in your township.

For comparison on populace density, here is a plat map image that includes the once-rural city of Waukee, Iowa. Today, Waukee is no much longer a rural community, and it is the fastest cultivation city in Iowa. Dallas County, whereby Waukee is located, is now one the the fastest cultivation counties in the U.S.! This is section 33 in Walnut Township, Dallas County, 1916. Remember that this reflects one square mile.


It’s neat to look earlier in time through these tools to watch how locations were organized, and also how castle have arisen and changed over time to be what we recognize today. If you’re feeling inspired, the Iowa DNR has a really neat interaction mapping routine on your website that permits users come look in ~ aerial maps the the state from 1930, 1950, 1960, 1970, and today. You can even turn top top township and also section brand on the maps. Look for the website of your existing home in past years!

Interested come learn much more about how houses and farms end up being homes and also communities? Visit the House and Home traveling exhibit in ~ Living history Farms before August 11, 2015! The exhibition has domestic furnishings and home construction materials, photographs, “please touch” interactive components, and films. Together, the objects and also images illustrate just how transformations in technology, government policy, and also consumer culture have affected American domestic life. The exhibition is free with paid admission to the museum.

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This exhibition has been made possible through NEH on the Road, a special initiative of the nationwide Endowment because that the Humanities. It has been adjusted and is being toured by Mid-American art Alliance. House & Home was organized by the National building Museum, Washington D.C., and curated by buy it Leavitt. Extr support was detailed by the residence Depot Foundation.