Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Big Miami Reserve Marker in Our Yard

[I wrote the following account in July, 2005 and it is presented here modified only to the extent that names and addresses have been masked. The described line as surveyed in 2005 passes through our bedroom and exits our property approximately twenty yards behind the house.]
Imagine my excitement when, on a Monday, I saw that a little red flag had sprouted in the front yard and the BBBH said, I bet it’s the Indian Reserve Line marker. A little later, we received a phone call from the planning office telling us that the surveyor had placed the marker in our yard and that we should check to see that we were satisfied with the placement, as on Wednesday the sign would be erected.
Wednesday, I peeked out several times, and finally late in the afternoon I observed that a little white flag had been placed directly beside the red one. A closer look revealed that a little circle of silver paint had been sprayed on the lawn at the base of the flagsticks. On Thursday, the water company came by and marked the location of the feed for the hydrant in our front yard. Friday, the sewer company dropped by and marked the spot where the storm drain lies. Still no sign. Saturday afternoon (who knew anyone worked on Saturdays these days?) the gas company sent a worker to mark the location of a nearby gas line. Yellow paint and two yellow flags on white flagsticks. We now have two yellow flags, a red one, a white one, a painted silver spot, blue paint marking the water, green paint for the storm drain, and of course, the yellow paint for the gas line. Very colorful, but no “Historical Marker”! You see, these things are not done in a careless or precipitous fashion. Oh, and the next Monday, the Cable Guy painted two long orange stripes through our yard. Tuesday we left for a short trip, and when we returned Thursday afternoon the marker had been placed.

My involvement in this whole thing started over a year ago when, for whatever reason I may have had at the time, I got to musing about the stone placed across the street from our house. I was aware that the Miami Reserve line passed through town and I knew where the New Purchase boundary line was marked on the highway. Also, I had been told many years ago by someone that the stone in a front yard on Green Street lay on the line. Somewhere I had acquired the information that the line ran at a 79 degree angle to the cardinal points of the compass. So with a map of Tipton and a protractor, I was able to estimate that the line should pass through my property. I later learned by researching more carefully that the angle was 79 degrees, 51 minutes, or nearly eighty degrees. Hence the first little paint spot I put in my driveway had to be relocated by a few feet, but still lay in the driveway. Also, I got the old 1927 city plat map at the library and found just a two-block portion of the line seemed to be marked on the map. By extending it with a straightedge, I found the same results and concluded that the stone, whether or not placed there as a marker (I still don’t know if it was or not) did in fact lie on the Reserve line. The surveyor’s results show that the south edge of the boulder lies on the line, and hence the rock is entirely within the Reserve.

My next step in the process was to take a bicycle tour through town, starting at the New Purchase Marker (you may note that the fence line along the south end of the church property follows the boundary line surveyed nearly two hundred years ago.) With that as a beginning point, I looked for stones along the “guesstimated” line to the west. I found one near an alley in Sycamore street, but thought it not likely to be a true marker. However, in the 300 block of Oak Street there is a stone hard by a front stoop which almost certainly has to lie on or very close to the line. I located another stone on Douglas Street, which the later survey showed to be too far to the south. The line crosses just south of the city waterworks on, though there is no marker evident. On Main Street, there is a stone in a front yard which has a plaque on it stating that it is an original marker stone for the Reserve line. I was subsequently told that that plaque was placed by the Historical Society in the early eighties. I found a stone in the alley near Conde Street, but again it was probably placed there as d├ęcor or to keep cars out of someone’s yard. The next stone lies in the front yard of the Green Street home which I mentioned above, and the surveyor’s mark verifies that it is on the boundary.

Satisfied that I had learned what I set out to discover, I thought little about it until, a few weeks later, after a meeting I overheard a conversation about the Reserve Line. I interjected that I had done the stuff described above, and I was then told of the signage project underway to preserve this piece of history for posterity. I signed on as one desiring to place a sign if my property proved to be qualified; and I passed on a little chart on which I had marked the stones that I thought were on the line.

Thus one could conclude “and the rest is history.” However, I have since done a bit more research, as my interest was piqued by the whole project. I learned that the surveyors Allen and Benton, who did the original layout of the Reserve had an exciting time of it, and that the task required two trips to Indiana due to confrontations with the Indians; I learned that the line that passes through town was drawn to be parallel to the Wabash River which forms the north boundary of the Reserve. By 1842, the Indians had ceded all their property, except for some individual homesteads, to the whites, and were relocated to Kansas and later to Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

A fascinating account of this was written by Carl Leiter, and may be accessed, along with much additional information, at the website of the Kokomo Public Library.


Elizabeth Glass-Turner said...

Fascinating! I didn't know that bit of lore about my hometown.

It makes me want to pull out a bicycle on my next visit and follow the line.

In one of my mom's old address books, a very loose, childish scrawl had entered in bright red ink our old address on Conde St.

I think it represented my first childish awareness of place, recording one's place in relation to others' place, and my apparent misapprehension of the correct direction of the letter "e"!

vanilla said...

Thanks for visiting. My first home in this burg was on Conde Street!