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BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES
195° 12'22", two hundred forty-nine thousand two hundred and fortysix feet, by the towns of Mount Washington, Egremont, Alford, West Stockbridge, Richmond, Hancock, and Williamstown, in Massachusetts, and Copake, Hillsdale, Austerlitz, Canaan, New Lebanon, Stephentown, Berlin, and Petersburg, in New York, to bound 112, a granite monument set in ledge and earth on an open easterly slope about seventyfive feet west of a private roadway, in latitude 42° 44'45.201" and longitude 73°15'54.904'' at the northwest corner of Massachusetts, also in the east line of New York and in the south line of Vermont, and marking a corner in the boundaries of the towns of Williamstown, in Massachusetts, Petersburg, in New York, and Pownal, in Vermont.
The term "azimuth" as used in this description is the angle which a line makes at its point of beginning with the true meridian, reckoning from the south around by the west.
This location of the line was approved by Massachusetts May 8, 1901, and by New York June 9, 1910 (Massachusetts Acts of 1901, chap. 374; New York Acts of 1910, chap. 447).
Massachusetts is one of the very few States that has had her boundary lines adequately marked and by frequent inspection maintains the marks in good condition. In addition to the marking of her exterior lines the State has also had comprehensive surveys made of interior township boundaries. The lines and corners are controlled by an accurate system of triangulation; therefore if any number of marks were destroyed the exact positions for new ones to replace them could be readily ascertained from the triangulation data. The results of these surveys are published by the State Harbor and Land Commission in a series of folios, which give plats of the lines, positions of triangulation stations, descriptions of boundary marks, extracts from laws by which the lines were fixed, and some historical matter.
In 1663 Charles II granted a charter to the governor and company of the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, of which the following is an extract (Thorpe, 1909, p. 3220):
... all that parte of our dominiones in New-England, in America, conteyneing the Nahantick and Nanhyganset Bay, and countryes and partes adjacent, bounded on the west, or westerly, to the middle or channel of a river there, commonly called and known by the name of Pawcatuck, alias Pawcawtuck river and soe along the sayd river, as the greater or middle streame thereof reacheth or lyes vpp into northt countrye, northward, unto the head thereof, and from thence, by a streight lyne drawn due north vntil itt meets with he south lyne of the Massachusetts Collonie; and on the north, or northerly, by the aforesayd south or southerly lyne of the Massachusetts Collony or Plantation, and extending towards the east, or eastwardly, three Eng. lish miles to the east and northeast of the most eastern and northeastern parts of the aforesayd Narragansett Bay, as the sayd bay lyeth cr extendeth itself from the ocean on the south or southwardly, vnto the mouth of the river which runneth towards the towne of Providence, and from thence along the eastwardly side or banke of he sayd river (higher called by the name of Seacunck river), vp to the falls called Patuckett falls, being the most westwardly lyne of Plymouth Collony, and soe from the sayd ffalls, in a streight lyne, due north, untill itt meete with the aforesayd line of the Massachusetts Collony; and bounded on the south by the ocean; and in particular, the lands belonging to the townes of Providence, Pawluxet, Warwicke, Misquammacok, alias Pawcatuck, and the rest vpon the maine land in the tract aforesayd, together with Rhode Island, Blocke Island, and all the rest of the islands and banks in the Narragansett Bay and bordering vpon the coast of the tracts aforesaid (Fisher's Island only excepted),
This charter was in force until 1843, when the constitution adopted in 1842 became effective.
For a history of the northern and eastern boundaries, see Massachusetts, pages 66–69.
In 1703 substantially the present western boundary was adopted by an agreement made between the commissioners from the two colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut, namely, "A straight line from the mouth of Ashawoga River to the southwest corner of the Warwick purchase, and thence a straight north line to Massachusetts." This line was actually run by Rhode Island and is still known as the Dexter and Hopkins line, but Connecticut would not accept the line as thus marked. Rhode Island appealed to the King, and the agreement of 1703 was confirmed in 1726. In September 1728, commissioners from the two colonies met and ran the line.76
The Connecticut-Rhode Island boundary line was established by the 1840 Joint Commission for that section of the line north of the mouth of the Ashaway River
The present State of Rhode Island was settled by Roger Williams and other immigrants, who left Massachusetts Bay and established themselves at Providence in 1636.
In 1643 a patent was granted for the Providence Plantations, from which the following are extracts (Thorpe, 1909, v. 6, p. 3210):
And whereas there is a Tract of Land in the Continent of America aforesaid, called by the Name of Narraganset Bay, bordering Northward and Northeast on the Patent of the Massachusetts, East and Southwest on Plymouth Patent, South on the Ocean, and on the West and Northwest by the Indians called Nahigganneucks, alias gansets; the whole Tract extending about twenty-five English Miles unto the Pequot River and Country.
And whereas divers well affected and industrious English Inhabitants, of the Towns of Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport, in the tract aforesaid, have represented their Desire,
Do, give, grant, and confirm to the aforesaid inhabitants of the Towns of Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport a free and absolute Charter of Incorporation, to be known by the Name of the Incorporation of Providence Plantations, in the Narragansett Bay, in New England.
75 The legal name for this State is "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."
76 For agreements of 1703 and 1728 and decisions of English council, see Rhode Island Hist. Soc. (1835, v. 3, p. 204-213).
BOUNDARIES OF THE
In 1630 the Plymouth Council made a grant of Connecticut to Robert, Earl of Warwick, its president.78 This grant was confirmed by King Charles in 1631, and on March 19 of that year the earl conveyed his title to Lord Say and Seal, Lord Brooke, Sir Richard Saltonstall, and others, associated under the name of The Plymouth Company (Dwight, 1840, p. 19).
A charter was granted by Charles II to Connecticut in 1662, of which the following is an extract (Thorpe, 1909, v. 1, p. 535):
and by the 1888 Joint Commission for that section of the line south of the mouth of the Ashaway River.
Previous to this date the latter section of the line had only been defined as "the middle channel of the Pawcatuck River." The commissioners interpreted this description as the thread of the stream rather than the middle of the navigable channel. A survey was made of the river, and a series of straight lines approximating the thread of the stream was established with all angle points tied by coordinates to the government triangulation net. Reference points were set at infrequent intervals to tie this line to the ground.
The following description of the line is taken from Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, January, 1846, p. 12:
We, do give, grant and confirm unto the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, all that Part of Our Dominions in New England in America, bounded on the east by Narraganset River, commonly called Varroganset Bay, where the said River falleth into the sea; and on the North by the Line of the Massachusetts plantation ; and on the South by the Sea; and in Longitude as the Line of the Massachusetts Colony, running from East to W'est, that is to say, from the said Narragan set Bay, on the East, to the South Sea on the West part, with the Islands thereunto adjoining.
Beginning at a rock near the mouth of Ashawoga River (now called Ashaway), where it empties into Pawcatuck River, and from said rock a straight course northerly to an ancient stone heap at the southeast corner of the town of Voluntown, and from said rock southerly in the same course with the aforesaid line, until it strikes Pawcatuck River. From the southeast corner of Voluntown a straight line to a stone heap at the southwest corner of West Greenwich; from thence a straight line to the southwest corner of the ancient town of Warwick, and which is now a corner of the towns of Coventry and West Greenwich; from thence a straight line to the northwest corner of the town of Coventry; thence a straight line to the northeast corner of Sterling; thence a straight line to the southwest corner of Burrillville, and thence a straight line to a stone heap upon a hill in the present jurisdictional line between the States of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and at all of said corners, excepting said Warwick corner, we have erected monuments of stone, marked R. I. and C., and have also placed similar monuments on all the principal roads crossing the line, and at other suitable places.
Prior to this time the two colonies of Connecticut and New Haven had continued separate, but they were united under this charter, which was accepted by them April 20, 1665 (Thorpe, 1909, p. 529). The Duke of York having been granted a charter in 1664, by which the lands west of the Connecticut River were embraced in his jurisdiction, the question of boundary immediately arose. About this time Col. Richard Nichols, George Cartwright, Sir Robert Carr, and Samuel Maverick had been appointed commissioners by the King and clothed with extraordinary powers to determine all controversies in the colonies. The matter was referred to them, and, after a full hearing, they determined that the southern boundary of Connecticut was the sea (Long Island Sound) and its western boundary the Mamaroneck River and a line drawn north-northwest from the head of salt water in that stream to Massachusetts. The territory south and west of these lines was declared to belong to the Duke of York. It was supposed that this west boundary would run about 20 miles east of the Hudson River, but it was discovered later by surveyors from Connecticut that it actually intersected the Hudson near the present site of Tarrytown.
In 1674 the Duke of York received a new charter in substantially the same terms as that of 1664. New controversies concerning jurisdiction led to a new agreement, dated November 28, 1683, between the governors of New York and Connecticut, which fixed the boundary substantially as it now exists between the two States
And we have caused the ancient monument which was erected at the Warwick corner in November, 1742, to be reset and a large heap of stones to be made around it. Said monument is marked with the letter C. on one side, and on the other RHODE ISLAND and the traces of other letters and figures, [Rhode Island Acts and Resolves, January, 1846, p. 12, 13, 14].
In 1935 negotiations on a resurvey of this State line were initiated, and during the years 1937, 1938, and 1939 the Connecticut Geodetic Survey ran a triangulation net along the line and completed strip maps of the entire line on which all reputed monuments were located. The Connecticut and Rhode Island State Line Agents submitted a joint report on March 7, 1941. With the onset of World War II, all activity was terminated on the State lines, and no action was taken on this report (Connecticut Agent, 1943).
77 For an excellent historical description of the boundaries of Connecticut, see Bowen (1882).
78 For a historical description of this and other royal grants of the Connecticut area and of lands now in Pennsylvania and Ohio formerly claimed by Connecticut, see Western Reserve Univ. (1923, p. 37–57).
and was sanctioned by the King. This agreement is as follows: 79
BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES
on Long Island Sound. For some cause, action was then suspended until 1731, when the commissioners of 1725 surveyed and set off the oblong or equivalent territory given to New York, defining and marking its boundary, which was to remain forever the dividing line between the respective colonies. The line ran substantially as at present (New York Stat., 1829, p. 61-65; New York Rev. Stat., 1882, v. 1, p. 127-128) and is as follows:
It is agreed that the bounds meares or dividend between his Royall High** Territory in America and the Colony of Connecticut forever hereafter shall begin att a certain Brook or River Called Byram Brooke or River which River is between the Towns of Rye & Greenwich that is to say att the mouth of the said Brooke where it falleth into the Sound at a Point Called Lyon's Point which is the Eastward Point of Byram River, and from the said Point to goe as the said River Runeth, to the place where the Common Road or Wading place over the said River is and from the said Road or Wading place to goe North North west into the Country soe farr as will be Eight English miles from the aforesaid Lyons Point, and that a Line of twelve Miles being measured from the said Lyons Point According to the Line or Generall Course of the Sound Eastward where the said twelve miles Endeth Another line shall be Runn from the Sound Eight miles into the Country North North West and alsoe that a fourth line be Runn that is to say from the North most end of the line first menconed unto the Northmost end of the Eight mile line being the third menconed line which fowrth line with the first menconed Line shall be the bounds where they shall fall to runn. And that from the Eastward End of the fowrth menconed Line (which is to be twelve miles in Length) A Line Paralell to Hudson's River in every place twenty miles distant from Hudson's River shall be the bounds there between the said Territory or Province of New Yorke, and the said Collony of Connecticut soe fart as Connecticutt Doth Extend Northwards that is to the South line of the Massachusetts Collony.
Only it is Provided that in case the Line from Byrams Brooke Mouth North North West Eight Miles and the line that is thence to runn twelve miles to the end of the third foremenconed line of Eight Miles Doe Diminish or take away any Land within twenty miles of Hudsons River that then soe much as is in Land Diminished of twenty miles from Hudsons River thereby shall be added out of Connecticut bounds unto the Line aforemenconed & Parallel to Hudsons River and Twenty miles Distant from it the addition to be made the whole Length of the said Parallel line and in such breadth as will make up Quantity for Quantity what shall be diminished as aforesaid.
A survey of the southwestern part of the boundary was made in 1684 and ratified by both parties. It was then decided that in accordance with the agreement a tract of land estimated at 61,440 acres should be permanently released to Connecticut by New York, in exchange for which New York should receive an equivalent area in a tract of uniform width between the Sound tract and the south line of Massachusetts, but for various reasons the survey of the equivalent lands was not made at that time.
This settlement of the boundary dispute was not satisfactory to the settlers in the tract added to New York who for the next 40 years endeavored to have the line moved west. Four sets of commissioners appointed successively for this purpose were unable to come to an agreement. A fifth set, appointed in 1725, entered into articles of agreement settling the manner of the survey, but they ran only the line bounding the tract
Beginning at Lyon's Point, in the mouth of a brook or river called Byram river, where it falls into Long Island sound, and running thence up along said river to a rock at the ancient road or wading place in said river, which rock bears north 12°45' east, 550 rods from said point; then north 23°45' west, 2292 rods; then east-northeast, 13 miles and 64 rods, which lines were established in the year 1725, by Francis Harrison, Cadwallader Colden, and Isaac Hicks, commissioners on the part of the then province of New York, and Jonathan Law, Samuel Eells, Roger Wolcott, John Copp, and Edmund Lewis, commissioners on the part of the then colony of Connecticut, and were as the magnetic needle than pointed: then along an east-north-east continuation of the last-mentioned course, 134 miles, and 21 rods to a monument erected in the year 1731 by Cadwallader Colden, Gilbert Willett, Vincent Matthews, and Jacobus Bruyn, junior, commissioners on the part of said province, and Samuel Eells, Roger Wolcott, and Edmund Lewis, commissioners on the part of said colony; which said monument is at the southeast corner of a tract known and distinguished as the oblong or equivalent lands; then north 24°30' west, until intersected by a line run by said last-mentioned commissioners, on a course south 12°30' west, from a monument erected by them in the south bounds of Massachusetts, which monument stands in a valley in the Taghkanick mountains, 121 rods eastward from a heap of stones, in said bounds on the top or ridge of the most westerly of said mountains; then north 12°30' east, from a monument erected by said last-mentioned commissioners said place of intersection, and standing on the north side of a hill, southeasterly from the easternmost end of the long pond, along the foresaid line to the aforesaid monument erected in the south bounds of Massachusetts, being the northeast corner of the oblong;
For more than a century no further controversy arose, but after 1850 questions of jurisdiction were raised, and in 1855 Connecticut made a proposition for a new survey. Several sets of commissioners were appointed (see footnote 79); but no agreement being reached, finally, in 1860, pursuant to an act of the Legislature of New York, the line was run by the New York commissioners, Connecticut not being represented.
The first section of the act of the New York Legislature is as follows:
19 Report of the commissioners appointed in 1856 to ascertain the boundary between the States of New York and Connecticut, transmitted to the Legislature of New York Apr. 10, 1857. Albany; includes map and historical data.
1. The commissioners appointed by the governor to ascertain the boundary line between the States of New York and Connecticut are hereby empowered and directed to survey and mark, with suitable
NEW YORK monuments, the said line between the two States as fixed by the survey of 1731.60
The territory included in the present State of New Twenty years later other commissioners represent
York is part of that claimed by both France and ing the two States agreed to accept the survey of 1860, England by right of discovery. It was included in the and their report (New York Rev. Stat., 1882, v. 1, p. 136),
territory of Acadia, for which a charter was given by which was ratified the same year, was as follows: Henry IV of France in 1603, and was included also
We agree that the boundary on the land constituting the western within the limits of the Virginia colony, chartered by boundary of Connecticut and the eastern boundary of New York James I of England in 1606, which embraced all that shall be and is as the same was defined by monuments erected by
part of America between 34° and 45° north latitude. commissioners appointed by the State of New York, and completed
Much of the territory west of the Hudson River was held in the year 1860, the said boundary line extending from Byram Point, formerly called Lyon's Point, on the south, to the line of
by the French and Indians and was a source of disthe State of Massachusetts on the north. And we further agree that pute for many years. The Indian treaty of 1684 gave the boundary on the sound shall be and is as follows: Beginning England nominal control, but the French were not at a point in the center of the channel, about 600 feet south of the
finally dispossed of their claim until nearly a hundred extreme rocks of Byram Point, marked No. 0, on appended United
years later. The Dutch in 1613 established trading posts States coast survey chart; thence running in a true southeast course 344 statute miles; thence in a straight line (the arc of a great circle)
on the Hudson and claimed jurisdiction over the terrinortheasterly (82.27 miles) to a point 4 statute miles due south of New tory between the Connecticut and Delaware Rivers, London light-house; thence northeasterly to a point marked number which they called New Netherlands. The government one, on the annexed United States coast survey chart of Fisher's island was vested in the United New Netherland Co., charsound, which point is on the longitude east three-quarters north,
tered in 1616, and later in the Dutch West India Co., sailing course down on said map, and is about 1,000 feet northerly from the Hammock or North Dumpling lighthouse; thence following
chartered in 1621. said east three-fourths north sailing course as laid down on said
In 1664 King Charles II of England granted to his map easterly to a point marked number two on said map; thence brother, the Duke of York, a large territory in America, southeasterly to a point marked No. 3 on said map; so far as said
which included, with other lands, all that tract lying States are coterminous.
between the west side of the Connecticut River and the This agreement was confirmed by the Congress of
east side of the Delaware. The Duke of York had prethe United States February 26, 1881 (21 Stat. L. 351).
viously purchased, in 1663, the territory on the New The line of 1860 was so poorly marked that the Legis- England coast which had been awarded to the Earl lature of New York in 1887 and the Legislature of Con
of Stirling, and in 1664, with an armed fleet, he took necticut in 1902 ordered a resurvey, which was made
possession of New Amsterdam, which was thenceforth in 1909–10. In that survey the line of 1860 was followed
called New York. This conquest was confirmed by the as closely as possible. Where old boundary stones of
treaty of Breda in 1667. suitable size were found, they were reset in concrete
The following is an extract from the grant of 1664 to bases, and about 100 new ones were added, made of
the Duke of York (Thorpe, 1909, v. 3, p. 1637): cut granite 12 by 12 inches by 9 or 10 feet, set in con
We have given James Duke of York all that part of the maine land crete bases 4 by 4 feet in section and 5 or 6 feet deep.
of New England beginning at a certaine place called or knowne by (See p. 75.) This survey was approved by the State
the name of St. Croix next adjoyning to New Scotland in America legislatures in 1913 and formally ratified by congres- and from thence extending along the sea coast unto a certain place sional act of January 10, 1925 (43 Stat. L. 731) in which called Petuaquine or Pemaquid and so up the River thereof to the the description of the boundary is given including
furthest head of ye same as it tendeth northwards and extending from
thence to the River Kinebequi and so upwards by the shortest distances and bearings of the lines through Long Island
course to the River Canada northward and also all that Island or Sound
Islands commonly called by the severall name or names of Matta For the history and present location of the eastern wacks or Long Island scituate lying and being towards the west of boundary of Connecticut, see Massachusetts, page 67,
81 The boundaries of New York are described in considerable detail in and Rhode Island, page 72. For the northern boundary,
Report of the Regents of the University on the Boundaries of the State see Massachusetts, page 67.
of New York: (State) S. Doc. 108, 1874, v. 1, 350 p.: 1884, v. 2, 867 p.
Volume 2 includes an index for both volumes and contains copies from S0 See report (Feb. 8, 1861) of the commissioners appointed to ascertain unpublished manuscript relating to the boundaries and a vast amount of the boundary between the States of New York and Connecticut, in which historical matter, copies of royal grants, copies from field notes, and will be found a complete account of this controversy.
reports of surveys.
Cape Codd and ye narrow Higansetts abutting upon the maine land
75 between the two Rivers there called or knowne by the severall names of Connecticutt and Hudsons River together also with the
BOUNDARY LINES OF THE STATES said river called Hudsons River and all the land from the west side of Connecticutt to ye east side of Delaware Bay and also all those severall Islands called, or knowne by the names of Martin's Vineyard and Nantukes otherwise Nantuckett.
The Dutch recaptured New York in July 1673 and held it until it was restored to the English by the treaty
New York by the cession of 1781 to the United States of Westminster, in February 1674. The Duke of York relinquished all its claim to land west of the meridian thereupon, to perfect his title, obtained a new grant
through the west extremity of Lake Ontario between in substantially the same terms as that of 1664, of
the north boundary of Pennsylvania and the 45th which the following is an extract (New York [State] parallel, and the peace treaty of 1783 cut off the rest Univ., 1874, v. 1, p. 10):
of the area claimed by it west of its present limits. (See
fig. 18). All that part of the Mayne land of New England, beginning att a certaine Place called or knowne by the name of St. Croix next adjoin
Massachusetts prior to 1786 claimed under its charters ing to New Scotland in America; and from thence extending along title to the soil, but not to the sovereignty, of a large the Sea-Coast into a certaine place called Petuaquine or Pemaquid, area west of the Hudson River that was also claimed and soe upp the River thereof to the furthest head of the same as itt
by New York; but by agreement of commissioners tendeth Northwards and extending from the River of Kinebeque and so upwards by the shortest Course to he River Canada Northwards;
representing the two colonies, signed December 16, And alsoe all that Island or Islands commonly called by the severall
1786, Massachusetts released to New York all land east name or names of Matowacks or Long Island, Scituate lyeing and being of a meridian commencing on the Pennsylvania line 82 towards the West of Cape Codd, and the Narro Higansetts, abutting
miles west of the Delaware River and extending northupon the Mayne land between the two Rivers there called or knowne
ward to Lake Ontario, except an area of 3,600 square by the severall names of Conectecutte and Hudsons River, Together alsoe with the said River called Hudsons River, and all the Land
miles east of that line to be selected by Massachusetts from the west side of Conectecutte River to the East side of De la between the rivers "Owega and Chenengo" (New York Ware Bay; and also those severall Islands, called or knowne by the [State] Univ., 1874, v. 1, p. 219-220). names of Martin-Vinyards and Nantukes, otherwise Nantuckett.
The next reduction in area was in 1791, when the conBy these grants to the Duke of York and the con- sent of New York to the independence of Vermont was quest of the Dutch possessions in America, it can be made effective by Congress. This left New York with seen that New York originally had a claim to a much substantially its present boundaries, the distances along larger territory than is now included in its limits. The which are as follows: (see New York State Engineer and successive changes in area may be sketched as fol- Surveyor, 1911, p. 30). lows:
The total length of the State boundary is 1,430 milesIn 1664 the Duke of York sold the present State of
Canadian line, 445 miles; Vermont line, 171 miles; MasNew Jersey to Lord John Berkeley and Sir George
sachusetts line, 50/2 miles; Connecticut line to Long Carteret.
Island Sound, 81 miles; along the ocean around Long In 1682 the Duke of York sold to William Penn his
Island to the New Jersey shore, 246 miles; New Jersey title to Delaware and the country on the west bank of line, 927/2 miles; Pennsylvania line, 344 miles to the the Delaware, which had been originally settled by the
beginning of the Canadian line in the middle of Lake Swedes but had been conquered by the Dutch and by
Erie. The boundaries are fixed by accepted agreements them surrendered to the Duke of York.
and are marked by natural watercourses or by monuIn 1686 Pemaquid and its dependencies were an
ments. nexed to the New England government by a royal
For the history and settlement of the eastern boundorder of the former Duke of York, who had succeeded
ary of New York, see Vermont, pages 64, 65; Massato the throne of England.
chusetts, page 70; and Connecticut, pages 73, 74. By the charter of 1691 to Massachusetts Bay, all claim to any part of Maine was extinguished, and the
A bill passed by the Legislature of New York, apislands of Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, and others
proved March 29, 1922, provided for the resurvey of adjacent (previously known as Duke's County, N.Y.)
a part of the State boundary said to be in dispute, were annexed to Massachusetts Bay.
extending from the northwest corner of Connecticut
about 12 miles southward. The territory west of the Connecticut River to a line within about 20 miles of Hudson River, now forming The northern boundary was fixed by the treaty of parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, was, by agree- peace in 1783 and by the commission under the sixth ments and concessions made at different times, sur- article of the treaty of Ghent. (See p. 12.) The 45threndered to those colonies, respectively.
parallel part of the boundary is an extension of the