In the 1830s, land surveyors began to travel into the region now recognized as McHenry County. Before land could be sold, a surveyor was hired to draw township maps. Surveyors walked entire townships with their survey equipment taking notes. In McHenry County, they recorded observations of plentiful timber, tallgrass prairies, and abundant water supplies.
The Society holds numerous survey notebooks from notable McHenry County surveyors including John Brink, Charles H. Tyron, and his grandsons Charles L. and George L. Tryon. Due to their age and continual use for research, the survey notebooks require professional conservation. Bindings have separated from their text block. There are numerous loose pages, with chips and tears. The notebook paper is acidic and becoming brittle.
Conservators will resew pages to the binding. Then those pages will be surface cleaned and mended, and the text block will be de-acidified to prevent further deterioration of the paper. Once adopted and stabilized through conservation, each survey notebook will be made available in the Society’s research library for public use once again.
John Brink, the original government surveyor of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, surveyed and walked most of McHenry County’s township and section lines. Born Jan. 12, 1811, in Phelps, N.Y., Brink pursued a career as a land surveyor after school. In November 1833, he passed through the northern part of McHenry County. John Brink continued his government work until 1840. A year later, he and his wife, Catherine, moved to a farm between Crystal Lake and Cary. John Brink was elected McHenry County Surveyor in 1843. He held that post for nearly 40 years.
The following John Brink survey notebooks are featured in the Society’s Adopt-an-Artifact Program:
• Survey notes circa 1870s. Adoption Fee: $450
• Survey notes covers June, 1867 to May 5, 1869. Adoption Fee: $450
• Survey notes covers 1854-1856. Adoption Fee: $450
• Survey notes from throughout the county. Ninety-four numbered pages covers 1866-1869. Adoption Fee: $450
• Survey notes from throughout the county. Includes a number of Crystal Lake surveys. Fifty-one numbered pages covers 1894-1903. Adoption Fee: $450
• Index to John Brinks's surveys of McHenry County, 1849-1898. Brink's surveys are indexed by township, subdivisions, tracings of old surveys, and maps. Adoption Fee: $450
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