A job a few years ago had me working as a consultant in retracing a 1891 GLO resurvey of a few sections of an 1873 original Survey by W.H. Norway in the coastal mountains of Santa Barbara.
In 1978, before I was really working in the business, just getting to understand the issues of retracing GLO lines, I met a prolific South Coast Surveyor named Jed Berkeley Blake, P.L.S. 4786. He had gone toe to toe with the BLM in court on several occasions and pointed out what he called "prima facie fraud" in some 1891 field notes by a surveyor named J.K. Harrington. This was in the Santa Ynez valley where a township crosses the coastal summit.
Harrington describes a 1/4 corner as a "post in a mind of rock" as established by Norway as a deputy surveyor", but Norway before him set a "sand rock, 18" x 12" x 10", Blake said, "I'd go to court on that one".
Now, 33 years later I'm acting as a consultant and crew for another accomplished P.L.S., Bruce D. Barton, #5555, and its in the same township but on the coastal side. The notes of Harrington have a similar problem. Harringtons description is different. He states this "From the witness cor. To secs. 21, 22, 27 and 28 which is a sandstone 8x10x12 ft. marked W.C . I run N, on land bet, Sec. 27 and 28. Ascending a brushy ridge."
Norway gives no dimensions and describes a "W.P." and the topography north gets this description. "The Mountains to the north are too rough and worthless to measure further." Norway was intrepid and rarely stopped by topography, and if he was, it was because it was simply ridiculous to try and even travel over it let alone measure by any means.
In discussion with another surveyor. M.L. Grant (R.C.E.7704) regarding Norway's work; Grants father (P.L.S.1239) had worked under Frank Flournoy (P.L.S.189) who had worked under Norway and was familiar with many of his methods. Particularly note keeping. Grant explained that his father had seen that Norway kept two sets of notes. One for monuments set and another for topography. His topographic notes were extensive and this made it so he did not have to search pages of notes to find monument descriptions.
Grant and his father noticed on a few lines retraced that occasionally a section line suffered switching of descriptions with another nearby line. This caused huge problems for preceding surveyors as well as them and they speculated that the telegraphed notes exacerbated this so badly that Harrington, who they were familiar with, simply set a corner and made up a description of the monument he supposedly found and continued with his survey.
In our situation we were able to unravel the switched original notes by Norway and see that Harringtons beginning point which was not tied to any preceding monument was bogus and we proceeded to find Norway's oriental monuments, BUT, there were efforts to obliterate them. Fortunately one was a pit carved into solid sandstone that was filed with fluffy red dirt fro the decaying redwood post he set.
The question is, "How much weight should the presence of prima facie evidence of fraudulent notes have in the use of the same surveyors descriptions, locations of section lines in the same township of the same year?" Would you as a surveyor be inclined to reject the notes for a specific monument altogether when there were significant inconsistencies in the monument description and adjacent topography? Or would you use them as if there was no issue?
The web pages linked are comprised of the land owners complaint to the California Licensing Board regarding retracing conducted over such lines with these problems. The owners are badly impacted and surveyors logically using the notes, after unraveling the issues, have found original monuments.