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made by the compass but the variation of the needle is not stated in the official reports.* PYRAM RIVER FROM " LYON'S POINT” TO THE “ GREAT STONE AT
THE WADING PLACE.” In the description of the boundaries of this State given in the Revised Statutes, the starting point is taken at Long Island Sound, as follows :
“ Beginning at Lyon's Point in the mouth of a brook or river called Byram River, where it falls into Long Island Sound, and running thence up along said river to a rock at the ancient road or wading place in said river, which rock bears north, twelve degrees and forty-five minutes east, five hundred and fifty rods, from said point.” This description, in a note of the revisers, is said to have been compiled from documents in the office of the Secretary of State. It is not, however, identical in language with the description in any original agreement, report or confirmatory act which we have been able to discover.
In the published laws of Connecticut we find no recital whatever of the boundaries of that State.
This portion of the line is thus stated in the agreement of 1683, the first instrument fixing the boundary at this point, and that to which all subsequent action was designed to conform. 6 To begin att a Certain Brook or River called Biram Brooke or River which River is between the Towns of Rye and Greenwich that is to say att the mouth of the said Brooke where it falleth into the Sound at a Point Called Lyon's Point which is the Eastward Point of Byram River, and from the said Point to goe as the said River Runeth to the place where the Common Road' or Wading place over the said River is.” The Commissioners who surveyed the line under this agreement in 1684, reported that they 6 went to Lyon's Point on the East side of Byram River and from the mouth of the said river where it falls into the sea measured up the said river and found it to be one mile and an halfe and twenty rods bearing North halfe Easterly and so came to a great stone at the wading place where the road cuts the said river.”.
* In some of the documents respecting the old surveys, mention is made of the variation of the needle at different periods. Investigation shows that the observations referred to were made with little regard to accuracy of time or place or to attending circumstances, and that they are practically unreliable.
The constant comparison of the needle with the direct lines run on our survey, proved that its transient deviations were very irregular, and so great as to render the compass an unfit instrument where correctness is at all desirable.
The next Commissioners who re-surveyed the line in 1725, and whose purpose was only to identify and distinguish the points established by their predecessors, reported that they had 6 surveyed from Lyon's Point to the great stone at the Wading place in Biram River and found that the said great stone bears North twelve degrees and forty-five minutes Easterly from the said point at the distance of five hundred and fifty rods." This is all that is given in the agreements and reports relative either to the starting point of the line, or its course until it reaches the 6 Great Stone."
The ambiguous language of the statute, as well as of the documents from which it was compiled, together with the fact that both of the former Boards of Commissioners surveyed a direct line from "Lyon's Point to the "great stone,” gave rise to a diversity of opinion in regard to the exact location of the boundary between those points. When we first went upon the ground we found three parties; one claiming a direct line, as formerly surveyed, throwing quite a village on the eastern side of the river into New-York; another, that the line followed the eastern bank of the river; and a third, that the boundary was the bed of the stream.
This diversity of belief had led to many difficulties and considerable litigation, in respect to wharf, and bridge privileges, * and the jurisdiction over vessels, and had greatly embarrassed the officers of justice in the discharge of their duties. The tide flows in Byram river as far as the “great stone” and it is navigable for coasting vessels two-thirds of that distance.
From a careful examination of the original documents, together with the explanations given in contemporary letters &c.gt we
* In 1851, the Legislature of New-York granted a charter for a draw bridge from the vil. lage of Portchester across the Byram river to the State Line on the Connecticut shore of the said river.” Session Laws 1851, Chap. 266.
See appondix N.
were convinced that the line was established in the river itself. Lyon's Point is mentioned not as the starting place of the boundary but for the purpose of designating the position of the mouth of the river. The measurement from the point of the rock, made in 1684, was for the purpose of ascertaining how far beyond the rock the direct line must be extended to complete the distance of eight miles into the country” from Lyon's point as had been agreed; and its resurvey in 1725 was solely for a comparison and test of measurements.*
The Commissioners from Connecticut concurred with those from New York in this opinion respecting the true line. In consequence of the changes constantly being made in the banks upon a portion of the river, by the construction of wharves &c., it was deemed expedient to fix a practical line through the river following its general course, and to designate it in a permanent manner. The Commissioners accordingly caused an accurate trigonometrical survey of the river to be made, and all agreed, verbally, upon certain ranges which the line should be deemed to follow.
These have been marked by permanent monuments, consisting of copper bars, inserted in the rocks and systematically numbered. We have also caused an accurate map to be prepared, on which these ranges and the locations of the monuments are given.t
"THE GREAT STONE AT THE WADING PLACE.” . This is the brief and indefinite description of the point from which was to be commenced the survey of a line more than eighty miles in length. The “wading place” itself was long since superseded by a bridge and high embankments, causing changes in the course and bed of the stream, and rendering uncertain the precise place where the road originally crossed. Several large stones lie in or on either side of the river, any one of which in the absence of the others might be taken for the one intended, and their several claims for recognition as such were not without advocates among the residents of the vicinity. • See appendix W. + See map No. 3.
After a careful scrutiny of the traditionary evidence, one of the largest of these great stones," situated on the east side of the river near the end of the bridge, was selected from the rest as that best substantiated; but it was not till its identity had been demonstrated by the survey of the succeeding line, that it was fixed' upon by the Commissioners from both States, as beyond question the stone referred to by the former Commissioners. It is now marked by a copper bolt inserted in its summit.
THE LINE RUNNING NORTH-NORTH-WEST FROM BYRAM RIVER. The first direct course running, according to the agreement of 1683, from the “great stone” at the wading-place, “north north-west into the country so far as will be eight English miles from the aforesaid Lyon's Point," was beset with many perplexities and difficulties. The official description of its northerly termination (D) * is extremely indefinite. The Commissioners of 1725 reported in respect to it that where “the three white oak trees stood they buried some burnt wood in the ground and raised a heap of stones over it and cut the letters C R on a great stone lying in the ground there," and also marked the trees with certain letters. There exist no means of determining how far these 6 three trees” were from one another, nor the relative position or distance of the buried burnt wood or the marked rock. We could hardly hope to find any vestige of the trees.
At the place which tradition and the common consent of the neighboring residents designated as the one they had occupied, we found a stone nearly covered with earth, lying just at the edge of the traveled roadway, which, on being laid bare, disclosed the letters.“ C R,” rudely cut upon one side in an antique form. The ground around the rock was carefully dug up, and about three feet from it a small quantity of charcoal was discovered. This spot we adopted as the termination of this course and its intersection with the next line.
Except at its extremities there exist on this section of the line, no traces of the work of either of the former commissioners. None of the monuments mentioned in their reports could be found, and in some instances we failed to identify either the
• The letters in brackets refer to map No 1.
fields in which they were situated or the sites of the houses by reference to which their position had been defined.
The doubts and difficulties arising from apocryphal and discordant traditions, imperfect local surveys, distrust by public officers, and impunity in the disregard of law already mentioned as common to the whole boundary, were peculiarly prevalent on this section. A fruitful source of difficulty was the liquor traffic, carried on with all the ingenuity for which the business is famous, by the erection of a building on one side of the supposed line, connected by an under-ground passage with a vault on the other, where the stock was deposited for sale. Thus the laws of either State could be evaded at pleasure, the unsettled condition of the line allowing it to be done with impunity.
For nearly the whole distance this section of the line lies in or contiguous to a thickly settled street, skirted with dwellings, out buildings, orchards, shade trees, and ornamental shrubbery, offering obstructions to sight neither to be penetrated or removed.
It was deemed advisable that this line should be established by the present survey with the utmost accuracy, not only on its own account, but because it would afford the means of comparison with the courses of the former surveyors and might become essential in establishing the angles and directions of the remainder of the boundary. It was therefore run more than once, as more fully stated in the engineer's report.*
Although a straight line was found to deviate at several places from that designated by tradition, there was no point presenting satisfactory evidence of its establishment by the former Commissioners, nor was there any proof that their survey deyiated from the direct course which it was intended to follow. At one place, a young and thriving elm tree, a few feet west of the direct line was said to have been planted by the present generation where, according to tradition, there had been an ancient e)m in the line of the early surveyors. The Connecticut Commissioners for a time urged the recognition of this tree, as an • Bee Appendix B.