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Township Section Guide



Southwest Wisconsin
In 1831, a man by the name of Lucius Lyon set out to survey land in the Michigan Territory. His journey brought him to an area near what is present day Hazel Green Wisconsin.

His efforts in 1831 were to establish a beginning point or place by which all property in the state of Wisconsin is referenced to and measured from.

Lyon established a east west Base Line which is used to measure property distance north and south. This base line is the present day Illinois and Wisconsin state line.

The north south 4th Principal Meridian is used as a reference point to measure land to the east and west. This Meridian passes through the exact center of Richland County.


As you research your family tree you will likely run into property documents. These documents may contain legal descriptions as well as location information.

All Richland County property legal descriptions are based on the Base Line and 4th Principle Meridian as established by Lucius Lyon in 1831.

Richland County has 16 townships within it's borders. A township is six miles square as a rule. Our exception is the southern row of townships along the Wisconsin River.

Each of the townships is equally divided into 36 sections numbered 1 through 36. Each section is 1 mile square.
4th Principal Meridian

Township and Range Lines
Once the Base Line and 4th Principal Meridian were established, the townships could be marked.

As seen in the map to the left, township numbering started at the number 1 from the Base Line. Richland County starts at Twp 8 North and ends at Twp 12 North.

Referencing the 4th Princilal Meridian, Richland County has 2 Ranges West and 2 Ranges East.

A Township Section Map
The lines that run north to south in a township are refered to as Range Lines. These lines are measured from the 4th Principle Meridian.

The lines that run east and west are refered to as Township Lines and are measured from the Base Line.

Most townships are physically marked with corner posts.

Each section of land contains 640 acres giving the township a total of 23,040 total acres.

Units of measurement used in a land plat were as follows:

1 Mile = 80 Chains or 320 Rods or 5280 Feet.
1 Chain = 4 Rods or 66 Feet or 100 Links.
1 Rod = 5.5 Yards or 16.5 Feet or 25 Links.
1 Link = .66 Feet or 7-7/8 Inches.
1 Pole = 16.5 Feet.
1 Square Mile = A Section or 640 Acres
1 Acre = 10 Square Chains or 160 Square Rods or 43,560 square feet.
1 Square Rod = 30.25 Square Yards or 272.25 Square Feet.
1 Furlong = 220 Yards.


A section
Each section of land is divided into the properties that our ancestors farmed. A large portion of the land grants given out in the 1800's were 40 acres in size. As these properties were sold and purchased, the boundries changed. At ground level the boundries show irregularities such as streams, rivers and roads.
A section


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Last Updated 3/30/2002
Contact Dennis J. Cook at : djnsl@hotmail.com