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On March 7, 1876, the Mississippi changed the location of its main channel at a place about 20 miles up the river from Memphis, since known as “the Centennial Cut-off.” The Mississippi, before this cut-off occurred, flowed northeastward along the west side of Brandywine Island, Ark. At the time of the avulsion the whole volume of the river with a head of 7 or 8 feet cut through a narrow neck of land, overcame the current flowing northeastward, and swept it backward for about 4 miles, thus reversing the direction of flow and forming a new main channel. An area of about 5 square miles of Arkansas land was left on the east side of the river, and 25 square miles of land belonging to Tennessee on the west side. In order to determine the proper location of the boundary between the two States at this place, Arkansas brought suit in the United States Supreme Court against Tennessee, which was argued in the October term, 1917. The report of this case " gives a great many references to court decisions regarding water boundaries in general. Three commissioners were appointed in 1918 1 to survey the line. Their report, filed May 24, 1921, was confirmed by the United States Supreme Court November 16, 1925.2
The north boundary of Arkansas was surveyed in 1823 and resurveyed by a joint commission of Arkansas and Missouri between 1843 and 1846, commencing at a point near the Mississippi whose latitude from sextant observation was determined as 36o. The marks consisted of tree blazes, wooden posts, and mounds of earth and stone. The 1843 line, which differ materially from that previously marked, was accepted by the legislatures and ratified by congressional act of February 15, 1848.3 Copies of the field notes of both lines are in the General Land Office records.
The part of the west boundary south of the Arkansas River was surveyed and marked in 1825, and that from Old Fort Smith to the southwest corner of Missouri in 1831.
A resurvey of the west boundary was commenced in 1857, but after the surveyors had run it 8 miles due south from the Arkansas River they were directed to return to Fort Smith and to retrace the line of the previous survey, which had been found to diverge to the west.5
A resurvey and re-marking of the entire west boundary was authorized in 1875. This work, which was completed in 1877, showed that the lines from Old Fort Smith both southward and northward diverged to the west, thereby adding to the area of
90 246 U. S. 158. 1 247 U. S. 461. 2 See 269 U. S. 152 and 271 U. S. 629. 39 Stat. L. 211. 4 Missouri, vols. 362 and 363. 6 40th Cong., 2d sess., H. Ex. Doc. 133. • 18 Stat. L. 476.
Arkansas more than 200 square miles, the boundary mark on the Red River being 4 miles 16 chains west of a due south line from Old Fort Smith.? The Cherokee and Choctaw Indians were paid for the land of which they had thus been wrongfully deprived. 8
Tennessee was originally a part of North Carolina. In 1784 the Legislature of North Carolina passed an act of cession to the United States of its western counties, and although the act was soon afterward repealed the people of Greene, Sullivan, and Washington Counties (now eastern Tennessee), believing themselves to be without proper government and inadequately defended against the Indians, revolted in 1785 and proceeded to organize an independent State to be called Frankland. A constitution was adopted, and a governor and a legislature were elected. It was planned to invite the inhabitants of adjoining areas now forming parts of Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama to join the movement and thus create a large State, but the continued opposition of North Carolina finally prevailed, and in 1788 North Carolina again gained control.
North Carolina in 1790 again passed an act ceding her western lands to the United States. The cession was accepted by act of Congress approved on April 2 of that year, and a government was provided for in “An act for the government of the territory of the United States south of the Ohio River.” 10 The boundaries described in the act of cession are substantially those of the State of Tennessee at the present day.11 (See fig. 10.)
Tennessee was admitted to the Union as a State by act approved June 1, 1796. The act of admission defined it as "the whole of the territory ceded to the United States by the State of North Caro
For the history of the eastern boundary, see North Carolina, page 149; for the southern boundary, see Georgia, page 156; Alabama, page 163; and Mississippi, page 165.
The middle of the Mississippi River became the western boundary of this area by the treaty of peace of 1783.
7 45th Cong., 3d sess., S. Rept. 714.
9 See Haywood, John, The civil and political history of the State of Tennessee, pp. 142–175, Knoxville, 1823; and Am. Hist. Rev., vol. 8, pp. 271-293, 1903.
101 Stat. L. 123.
11 There are excellent historical descriptions of the Kentucky boundaries in Carroll, J. D., General statutes of Kentucky, 3d ed., pp. 240_243, Louisville, 1903; in Staunton, R. H., Revised statutes of Kentucky, vol. 1, pp. 211-220, Cincinnati, 1860; and in Shannon, R. T., A compilation of the Tennessee statutes, vol. 1, pp. 33–62, Nashville, 1917.
121 Stat. L. 491.
Virginia and North Carolina, prior to the creation of the States of Kentucky and Tennessee, appointed commissioners—Messrs. Walker and Henderson-to run and mark their common boundary on the parallel of latitude 36° 30'. From a point on the top of the Cumberland Mountains, now the southeast corner of Kentucky, Walker ran and marked the line to a point on the Tennessee River. This line, called Walker's line, was regarded for many years as the dividing line between Kentucky and Tennessee. It has since been ascertained, however, that Walker's line was about 3' north of latitude 36° 30'.
The Indian title to the land west of the Tennessee River being extinguished by the treaty of 1819, the Legislature of Kentucky appointed Robert Alexander and Luke Munsell to ascertain the true point of latitude 36° 30' on the Mississippi and to run and mark a line east on that parallel, which was done as far east as the Ten
In 1820 commissioners were appointed by Kentucky and Tennessee to settle the boundary. Their report, ratified by the States and approved by Congress May 12, 1820, is in part as follows: 14
The line of boundary and separation between the States of Kentucky and Tennessee shall be as follows, to wit: The line run by the Virginia commissioners, in the years 1779 and 1780, commonly called Walker's line, as the same is reputed, understood, and acted upon by the said States, their respective officers and citizens, from the southeastern corner of Kentucky to the Tennessee river; thence with and up said river to the point where the line of Alexander and Munsell, run by them in the last year under the authority of an act of the legislature of Kentucky entitled an act to run the boundary line between this state and the state of Tennessee, west of the Tennessee river, approved Feb ruary the 8th, 1819, would cross said river; and thence with the said line of Alexander and Munsell to the termination thereof on the Mississippi river, below New Madrid.
In 1858–59 commissioners were appointed by Kentucky and Tennessee toʻrerun this line. The report of the commission on the part of Tennessee, giving courses, bearings, and milestones erected can be found in the State statutes.15 The report of the commission on the part of Kentucky, with latitudes and a map of the line, was printed at Frankfort by the State printer, in 1860, as a pamphlet of 98 octavo pages. Between Cumberland Gap and the Tennessee River the line is from 534 to 12 miles north of latitude 36° 30'. As a result of this and other errors in the location of its boundaries, Tennessee gained about 2,500 square miles of territory that it would not have had if the lines had been correctly located.
18 Carroll, J. D., op. cit., pp. 240–243.
14 Haywood, John, op. cit., p. 485; see also Carroll, J. D., op. cit., p. 240, and 3 Stat. L. 609. For reference to the 1826 survey of this line by Thomas J. Matthews see Tennessee Hist. Soc. Mag., October, 1920, pp. 177-184.
16 The compilation of statutes of Tennessee, by S. D. Thompson and T. M. Steger, vol. 1, pp. 223–243, St. Louis, 1873, contains descriptions of all Tennessee boundaries.
The line was run from the Mississippi eastward to the Tennessee, thence down that river to a point in approximate latitude 36° 40' 45'', and thence eastward, following the old Walker line wherever it could be identified, and where no marks were known it was run to points where the Walker line was reputed to be. At the southwest corner of Virginia is an offset from the Walker line, which had been adopted for the Kentucky boundary, to the compromise line agreed on by Virginia and Tennessee in 1803. The line was continued to the northeast corner of the State and thence about 11/2 miles southwest to the North Carolina line, a total distance of about 432 miles.
There are many angles and offsets in the line east of the Tennessee River that can scarcely be attributed to errors in surveying. It seems, however, that the commissioners who first ran the line between Virginia and North Carolina (the Byrd line) and the Tennessee north boundary (the Walker line) were allowed to change the lines at their discretion provided the commissioners for both States agreed; consequently they ran the line on an irregular course to accommodate influential inhabitants along the boundary who desired to remain in one State or the other.16
By act of January 28, 1901, Tennessee ceded the north half of the main street in the old town of Bristol to Virginia. This cession was accepted by Virginia February 9, 1901, and approved by Congress March 3, 1901.17
For a history of the boundary between Virginia and Tennessee see Virginia, page 143.
An excellent article by Park Marshall on the boundary lines of Tennessee has been published by the State Geological Survey.18
Geographic positions on the Tennessee-Virginia boundary have been determined by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey as follows: 19
A stone post 24 inches long, set 20 inches in the ground, on Holston Mountain a short distance northwest of Sutherland, at latitude 36° 36' 51.2" and longitude 81° 49' 36.3". This station is very near the State line if not on it. The observer who located it stated :
The sketch submitted with the report of the commissioners who ran out the State line in 1858 shows an offset of about 134 miles between Bristol and this station. The tree marks are found on the straight line east of the offset point but are said not to be continuous; and blocks have been cut from some
16 For a comprehensive history of this line see Garrett, W. R., Northern boundary of Tennessee, a paper read before the Tennessee Historical Society, Mar. 18, 1884, Nash. ville, 1884.
17 31 Stat. L. 1465. See 190 U. S. 75 for reference to this cession. 18 The resources of Tennessee, vol. 7, pp. 90–108, Nashville, 1918. 19 See 190 U. S. 64 for report of commissioners who resurveyed this line in 1902–3.
trees showing the age of 1802 or 1803 and have been crossed out. The only line marked through is that with this offset. Blocks with these erased marks can be had in Bristol, in the possession of Mr. Huffacre (1894).
I have found a stone post on this line in the valley of Beaver Dam Creek, about 142 miles above the village of Damascus and about 2 miles east of this station. I traced the line from this stone west to the highest point it crosses on Holston Mountain, where the station is established, and found several trees marked by both commissioners (1802, or 1803, and 1858) easily recognized at this date. The line of 1802 or 1803 is called the “ diamond line,” from the method of marking always thus ..., while the marks of 1858 are always :
In Bristol, Tenn.-Va., latitude 36° 35' 41.6'', longitude 82° 10' 41.6'', the State line passes 15 feet south of the Baptist Church steeple.
On a ridge about 5 miles west of Bristol, latitude 36° 35' 42.1", longitude 82° 15' 54.5''.
About 3 miles north of Kingsport, Tenn., latitude 36° 35' 39.9”', longitude 82° 35' 35.8''.
On Clinch Mountain, about 4 miles southeast of Fairview, Va., latitude 36° 35' 37.3", longitude 82° 49' 49.4".
On the crest of Powell Mountain, about 8 miles northeast of Sedalia, Tenn., latitude 36° 35' 38.0", longitude 83° 10° 32.3"'.
About 3 miles south of Ewing, Va., latitude 36° 35' 50.50”, longitude 83° 27' 52.6''.
The following positions are on the Tennessee-Kentucky boundary:
At the southeast corner of Kentucky, about 2 miles southwest of Cumberland Gap, latitude 36° 34' 57.1", longitude 83° 41' 28.1".
Jellico, Tenn., an astronomic station, was established in the town of Jellico, at a point 516.3 feet south of the State line, latitude 36° 35' 03.2'', longitude 84° 07' 28.8''.
About 900 feet west of the town of Dukedom, Tenn., State line monument No. 8, latitude 36° 30' 09.7", longitude 88° 43' 09.8''.20
The Geological Survey has located several other points on the boundary line near the Cumberland River.
A stone post near the Mississippi River, latitude 36° 29' 51.1", longitude 89° 29' 01.2", 21
KENTUCKY % Kentucky was included in the original limits of Virginia (fig. 10) and was a part of Augusta County, which was formed in 1738. In 1769 Botetourt County was created from a portion of Augusta County; in 1772, Fincastle from Botetourt; in 1776, Kentucky
20 See U. S. Geol. Survey Bull. 496, pp. 303–304, 1912, for this position and others farther west.
* Mississippi River Comm. Rept. for 1881, p. 35.