Commissioner of State Lands John Thurston was in Helena Wednesday to present a piece of Phillips County history to local government officials.
Thurston brought with him from Little Rock a replica of the original general land office plat map for Township 2 South, Range 5 East. The plat is of the township that includes the current county seat (Helena) and the Phillips County Courthouse.
According to Thurston, the original plat maps were drawn from Louisiana Purchase field notes dating back to 1815. The survey took place from the fall of 1815 to mid-1850s. Notes inscribed at the bottom of the plat describe the parcel of land, when it was surveyed, by whom, and the date when the plat was certified.
The plat can be dated to surveys taken in December 1815.
The 'Fifth Principle Meridian' forms the western border of Phillips County. The northern border lies along the 'Baseline.' These two lines, which were surveyed in 1815, intersect to form the basis for additional surveys of the majority of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Arkansas' first surveys were conducted to fulfill land bounties owed to the veterans of the War of 1812.
Original historic land office records, held in trust, are currently housed in the newly renovated Commissioner of State Lands Office.
“I am proud to be able to present this plat to Phillips County on behalf of my office for the citizens of this county,” said Thurston. “It is my desire that our office continues to do its part in preserving the past so that our children and grandchildren can learn about Arkansas' land history.”
Those interested in learning more about the historic documents of the land office can visit the Commissioner of State Land 's website at www.cosl.org.