The North Carolina - South Carolina Border Surveys - 1730 to 1815

It appears that the dispute between the two Carolinas as to boundary lines began in 1720, "when the purpose to erect a third Province in Carolina, with Savannah for its northern boundary," began to assume definite shape.

However, nothing was done until January 8, 1730, when a line was agreed on "to begin 30 miles southwest of the Cape Fear River, and to be run at that parallel distance the whole course of said river." In the following June, Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina recommended that it run from a point 30 miles southwest of the source of the Cape Fear, shall be continued "due west as far as the South Sea," unless the "Waccamaw river lyes within 30 miles of the Cape Fear river," in which case that river should be the boundary.

This was accepted by North Carolina until it was discovered that the "Cape Fear rose very close to the Virginia border," and would not have "permitted any extension on the part of North Carolina to the westward." Meanwhile, both provinces claimed land on the north side of the Waccamaw river."

In 1732, Governor George Burrington of North Carolina published a proclamation in Timothy's Southern Gazette, declaring the lands lying on the north side of the Waccamaw River to be within the Province of North Carolina, to which Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina replied by a similar proclamation claiming the same land to belong to South Carolina.

Governor Johnson also claimed that when they [the two governors] had met before the Board of Trade in London to settle this matter in 1730, Burrington had "insisted that the Waccamaw should be the boundary from its mouth to its head," while South Carolina had contended that "the line should run 30 miles distant from the mouth of the Cape Fear river on the southwest side thereof, as set forth in the instructions, and that the Board had agreed thereto, unless the mouth of the Waccamaw river was within 30 miles of the Cape Fear river; in which case both Governor Burrington and himself had agreed that the Waccamaw river should be the boundary."

As to the omission of the word "mouth" in the last part of the instructions, Governor Johnson thought was "only a mistake in wording it."

As a consequence of this dispute, commissioners were appointed by both colonies, who were to meet on the 23d of April, 1735, and run a due west line from the Cape Fear River along the seacoast for thirty miles, and from thence proceed northwest to the 35° N latitude, and if the line touched the Pee Dee River before reaching the 35° N latitude, then they were to make an offset at five miles distant from the Pee Dee River and proceed up that river until they reached that latitude; and from thence they were to proceed due west until they came to Catawba town; but if the town should be to the northward of the line, "they were to make an offset around the town so as to leave it in the South government."

They began to run the line in "May 1735, and proceeded thirty miles west from Cape Fear . . . and then went northwest to the country road and set up stakes there for the boundary of the two provinces, when they separated, agreeing to return on the 18th of the following September."

In September 1735, the line was run northwest about 70 miles, the South Carolina commissioners not arriving until October. They followed the line run by the North Carolina commissioners about 40 miles, and finding it correct, refused to run it further because they had not been paid for their services. A deputy surveyor, however, took the latitude of the Pee Dee River at the 35th parallel and set up a mark, which was from that date deemed to be the boundary at that place.


In 1737, the line was extended in the same direction 22 miles to a stake in a meadow supposed to be at the point of intersection with the 35th parallel of north latitude. In 1764, the line was extended from the stake due west 62 miles, intersecting the Charleston road from distance of 61 miles.
In 1772, after making the required offsets so as to leave the Catawba Indians in South Carolina in pursuance of the agreement of 1735, the line was "extended in a due west course from the confluence of the north and south forks of the Catawba river to Tryon mountain." However, North Carolina refused to agree to this line, insisting that "the parallel of 35° of north latitude having been made the boundary by the agreement of 1735, it could not be changed without their consent . . . ."

The reasons that controlled the commissioners in recommending this course . . . were that the observations of their own astronomer, President Caldwell of the University, showed there was a palpable error in running the line from the Pee Dee River to the Salisbury road, that line not being upon the 35th parallel, but some twelve miles to the south of it, and that "the line of 1772" was just about far enough north of the 35th parallel to rectify the error, and by allowing South Carolina to gain on the west of the Catawba River substantially what she had lost through misapprehension on the east of it."

North Carolina, in 1813, "agreed that the line of 1772," should be recognized as a part of the boundary. "The zigzag shape of the line as it runs from the southwest corner of Union County to the Catawba River is due to the offsets already referred to, and which were necessary to throw the reservation of Catawba Indians into the Province of South Carolina."


In 1803, the Legislature of North Carolina passed an Act (Rev. Stat. 1837, Vol. II, p. 82) for the appointment of three commissioners to meet other commissioners from South Carolina, to fix and establish permanently the boundary line between these two States "as far as the eastern boundary of the territory ceded by the State of North Carolina to the United States. This act was amended in 1804, giving "the governor for the time being and his successor full power and authoriy to enter into any compact or agreement that he may deem most advisable" with the South Carolina and Georgia authorities for the settlement of the "boundary lines between these States and North Carolina." But this act seems only to have caused confusion and necessitated the passage of another act in 1806 declaring that the act of 1804 should "not be construed to extend or have any relation to the State of Georgia." (Rev. Stat. 1837, p. 84.)

"Commissioners of the States of North and South Carolina, however, met in Columbia, SC, on July 11, 1808, and among other things agreed to extend the line between the two states from the end of the line which had been run in 1772 "a direct course to that point in the ridge of mountains which divides the eastern from the western waters where the 35° of north latitude shall be found to strike it nearest the termination of said line of 1772, thence along the top of said ridge to the western extremity of the State of South Carolina. It being understood that the said State of South Carolina does not mean by this arrangement to interfere with claims which the United States, or those holding under the act of cession to the United States, may have to lands which may lie, if any there be, between the top of the said ridge and the said 35° of north latitude."

But, although the commissioners from the two states met at the designated point on the July 20, 1813, they found that they could not agree as to the "practicability of fixing a boundary line according to the agreement of 1808," and entered into another agreement," at McKinney's, on Toxaway River, on September 4, 1813," by which they recommended that their respective states agree that the commissioners should start at the termination of the line of 1772 "and run a line due west to the ridge dividing the waters of the north fork of the Pacolet River from the waters of the north fork of Saluda River; thence along the said ridge to the ridge that divides the Saluda waters from those of Green River; thence along the said ridge to where the same joins the main ridge which divides the eastern from the western waters, and thence along the said ridge to that part of it which is intersected by the Cherokee boundary line run in the year 1797; from the center of the said ridge at the point of intersection the line shall extend in a direct course to the eastern bank of Chatooga River, where the 35° of north latitude has been found to strike it, and where a rock has been marked by the aforesaid commissioners with the following inscription, viz.: lat. 35°, 1813.

It being understood and agreed that the said lines shall be so run as to leave all the waters of Saluda River within South Carolina; but shall in no part run north of a course due west from the termination of the line of 1772. "The commissioners who made the foregoing agreement were, on the part of North Carolina, John Steele, Montfort Stokes, and Robert Burton, and on the part of South Carolina, Joseph Blythe, Henry Middleton, and John Blasingame. (Rev. Stat. 1837, Vol. ii, p. 86).

Pursuant to the above provisional articles of agreement, North Carolina, in 1814, appointed General Thomas Love, General Montfort Stokes, and Colonel John Patton commissioners to meet other commissioners from South Carolina to run and mark the boundary line between the two states in accordance with the recommendation of the commissioners who had met and agreed, "at McKinney's, on Toxaway river, on the 4th of September, 1813."

However, these commissioners met and found, "by observations and actual experiments that a course due west from the termination of the line of 1772 would not strike the point of the ridge dividing the waters of the north fork of the Pacolet River from the waters of the north fork of Saluda River in the manner contemplated, . . . and finding also that running a line on top of the said ridge so as to leave all the waters of Saluda River within the State of South Carolina would (in one place) run a little north of a course due west from the termination of the said line of 1772," agreed to run and mark a line, "on the ridge around the head springs of the north fork of Saluda River," and recommended that such line be accepted by the two states.

Therefore, the Legislature of North Carolina passed an Act (Rev. Stat. 1837, Vol. ii, p. 89) fixing this line as "beginning on a stone set up at the termination of the line of 1772," and marked "N. C. and S. C. September fifteenth, eighteen hundred and fifteen, "running thence west four miles and ninety poles to a stone marked N. C. and S. C., thence south 25° west 118 poles to the top of the ridge dividing the waters of the north fork of the Pacolet River from the north fork of the Saluda River . . . thence to the ridge that divides the Saluda waters from those of Green River and thence along that ridge to its junction with the Blue Ridge, and thence along the Blue Ridge to the line surveyed in 1797, where a stone is set up marked N. C. and S. C. 1813; and from this stone "a direct line south 68°- 4' west 20 miles and 11 poles to the 35° of north latitude at the rock in the east bank of the Chatooga River, marked latitude 35° AD: 1813, in all a distance of 74 miles and 189 poles."

In 1807, the North Carolina Legislature passed an Act (Rev. Stat. 1837, V ol. ii, p. 90) which "fully ratified and confirmed" these two agreements, and another Act (Rev. Stat. Vol. ii, p. 92) reciting that these two sets of commissioners, "in conformity with these articles of agreement," had "run and marked in part the boundary line between the said States." This act further recites that the North Carolina commissioners, "have reported the running and marking of said boundary line as follows:

"To commence at Ellicott's rock, and run due west on the 35° of north latitude, and marked as follows: The trees on each side of the line with three chops, the fore and aft trees with a blaze on the east and west side, the mile trees with the number of miles from Ellicott's rock, on the east side of the tree, and a cross on the east and west side; whereupon the line was commenced under the superintendance of the undersigned commissioners jointly: Timothy Tyrrell, Esquire, surveyor on the part of the commissioners of the State of Georgia, and Robert Love, surveyor on the part of the commissioners of the State of North Carolina - upon which latitude the undersigned caused the line to be extended just thirty miles due west, marking and measuring as above described, in a conspicuous manner throughout; in addition thereto they caused at the end of the first eleven miles after first crossing the Blue Ridge, a rock to be set up, descriptive of the line, engraved thereon upon the north side, September 25, 1819, N. C., and upon the south side 35° N. L. G.; then after crossing the river Cowee or Tennessee, at the end of sixteen miles, near the road running up and down the said river, a locust post marked thus, on the south side Ga. October 14, 1819; and on the north side, 35° N. L. N. C., and then at the end of twenty-one miles and three quarters, the second crossing of the Blue Ridge, a rock engraved on the North side 35° N. L. N. C., and on the south side Ga. 12th Oct., 1819; then on the rock at the end of the thirty miles, engraved thereon, upon the north side N. C. N. L. 35°, which stands on the north side of a mountain, the waters of which fall into Shooting Creek, a branch of the Hiwassee, due north of the eastern point of the boundary line, between the States of Georgia and Tennessee, commonly called Montgomery's line, just six hundred and sixty-one yards."

The Legislature then enacted "That the said boundary line, as described in the said report, be, and the same is hereby fully established, ratified and confirmed forever, as the boundary line between the States of North Carolina and Georgia."

The last section of the act confirming the survey of the line from the Big Pigeon to the Georgia line, as run and marked by the commissioners of North Carolina and Tennessee in 1821, (Rev. Stat. 1837, Vol ii, p. 97) provides "that a line run and known by the name of Montgomery's line, beginning six hundred and sixty-one yards due south of the termination of the line run by the commissioners on the hart of this State and the State of Georgia, in the year one thousand eight hundred and nineteen ending on a creek near the waters of Shooting Creek, waters of Hiwassee, then along Montgomery's line till it strikes the line run by commissioners on the part of North Carolina and Tennessee in 1821, to a square post marked on the east side N. C. 1821, and on the west side Tenn. 1821, and on the south side Ga. should to be the dividing line between North Carolina and Georgia, so soon as the above line shall be ratified on the part of the State of Georgia."


 


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