Jerry is a native of Nebraska and currently lives in Lincoln. He earned a degree in surveying from Southeast Community College in Milford, Nebraska, in 1985, and immediately began his career. During his initial 13 years of surveying he was employed by several private companies in Lincoln doing all types of surveying and drafting. In 1997, Jerry began working for Lancaster County Engineering where his expertise became boundary surveying and section corner recovery and remonumentation. He obtained licensure in the states of Nebraska in 1994 and South Dakota in 2012. Jerry has written over fifty professional articles pertaining to land surveying. He has also authored eight books pertaining to his interests in surveying, railroads, and World War II. Jerry is a frequent speaker at surveying conferences in several area states and a contributing author to The American Surveyor magazine. He has been directly involved in several historical projects in Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. His passion for surveying often takes him to the Black Hills and other locations where he endeavors to find long forgotten historical monuments.
U.S. Location Monuments
Saturday, January 9, 2021, 8:00 - 10:00 a.m.
The early discovery and extraction of the precious metals and natural resources in many regions of the western United States were often in areas isolated from the advancing Public Land Survey System. To safeguard the claims and to define the boundaries of the mineral surveys, surveyors were faced with the dilemma how to survey them so they could be accurately tied into the PLSS network once it reached those areas. The General Land Office had two options to solve this situation. A new initial point along with a baseline and principal meridian could be established, or the surveys in a particular area could all be referenced to a single point that could later be tied into the overall system. In most cases, the latter was chosen where a point was selected on a prominent location that was visible from surrounding directions. This point became known as an Initial Point, Mineral Monument, or in most cases a United Stated Location Monument (USLM). Boundary corner Number One of the metes and bounds mineral survey was tied to the USLM by bearing and distance. As more mineral surveys increased in the same area, they were also tied to this defined point or a new one was established if the existing one was deemed too far away from the survey. All of the USLM’s were eventually tied into the PLSS network which in turn tied in the entire mineral surveys as well. USLM’s were an important part of the early surveys in the western states and continue to be an important monument when retracing these early surveys. These were some of the earliest monuments in these regions and are worthy of examining how they were placed and what importance they still might have today.
Nelson Buck Masacre
Saturday, January 9, 2021, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
The lure of obtaining government contracts and surveying in the wild west brought many eastern surveyors into regions of Kansas and Nebraska that required them to step outside their familiar environments. These areas were often far removed from civilization, so the need for the basic essentials of food, water and shelter had to be well thought out in advance. Most importantly, the need for protection from hostile Native Americans was something that was foremost on their minds. The military was under no obligation to provide escorts and protection for the deputy surveyors and their crews who ventured into these uncertain areas. Some surveyors wrongly assumed that protection would be provided and were thus ill-prepared to defend themselves. In 1869, a surveyor named Nelson Buck from Pontiac, Illinois, assembled a crew of mostly young boys to come to the Nebraska Territory to survey the lines of his contract. After reaching Fort Kearny, and discovering that a military escort was not available for them, Buck made the fateful decision to go on without protection in one of the most hostile regions known at that time. His crew never surveyed a single mile and was massacred near the Kansas/Nebraska state line. The details of what exactly occurred during the fight have been shrouded in mystery for over 150 years. A fresh examination of the circumstances of this event will be discussed to separate out the many myths that have been perpetuated over the years by non-surveyors who have attempted to write the historical account of this unfortunate incident.