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Resolved, That relying upon the Legislature of Connecticut to correct the errors of its Commissioners, we deem no legislation necessary on the part of this State, in relation to this subject at the present time.
S. P. ALLEN, Clerk.
At different times and for long periods in its early existence, the province of New-York was disturbed by contentions with the neighboring colonies, respecting their intervening boundaries.
Territorial limits were fruitful sources of amusing, as well as of serious disputes between the Dutch government of New Netherland and “the English from the East," through half a century, much of that time engrossing attention to the exclusion of other matters.
After the surrender of this province to the English, the “dividend lines" between it and the colony of Connecticut, for sixtyseven years divided and estranged brothers, the contentions, at times, " involving character and life even.”
An early historian records in jubilant language that "it remained for the year 1731 to be distinguished for the complete settlement of the boundary disputes, an event, considering the late colonising spirit and extensive claims of the people of New England, of no small importance."
Since that date, this boundary has for so long a time been supposed to be well defined and established, that previous to the present agitation, the subject was commonly thought to be void of interest, except as a curious matter of colonial history. The first public intimation to the contrary was given by Connecticut, in the adoption by the Legislature of that State, at its session in May, 1855, of resolutions alluding to sundry differences and disputes, and appointing Messrs. William H. Holly, of Stamford, and Jason Whiting, of Litchfield, commissioners, to meet such
as might be deputed from this State, and with them to ascertain the said boundary line, and erect suitable monuments, at such places as they should deem necessary to prevent any future mistakes concerning the same.” They were authorised to employ necessary surveyors and chainmen to assist them," and were required to report their proceedings to the Legislature of that State. These resolutions having been transmitted to the Governor of New-York, the Legislature on his recommendation, at its session in 1856, adopted concurrent resolutions providing that three commissioners should be appointed and commissioned by the Governor, with powers similar to those conferred by Connecticut. They were directed to report to the Legislature, not only their doings, but also “ the expenses attending the same."*
In accordance with these resolutions, his Excellency Governor Clark, on the 9th April, 1856, appointed and commissioned on the part of this state, Ben. Field, of Albion, Orleans county, Samuel D. Backus, of Brooklyn, and Jonathan Tarbell, of Keeseville, Essex county, of whose appointment notice was communicated to the Connecticut commissioners.
Having no knowledge of any disputes or other occasion for the proceeding, except such as might be derived from the resolutions under which we received our appointment, we entered upon our duties anticipating their easy and speedy performance.
A meeting of the New-York Commissioners was appointed for the 27th day of May. A preliminary meeting with the Commissioners from Connecticut, took place, by pre-arrangement, at the village of Portchester, on the 3d of June, when a joint board was organized, and on the motion of one of the Connecticut members, Mr. Field was selected as chairman.
On this occasion our attention was given to the investigation of the existing difficulties and the means of their removal. “Lyon's Point” and other localities on Byram river, referred to in the official descriptions of the line, were examined; the chairman was verbally empowered to procure a suitable engineer; and the board adjourned to meet at the same place on the 23d of the month. . See resolutions, &c., appendix A.
The procurement of an officer of the General Government to conduct the survey was at first contemplated, but this intention was subsequently relinquished, and Mr. C. W. Wentz, of Albany, a gentleman of character as a citizen, and of distinguished reputation as an engineer, was selected for that delicate and responsible duty, and the Connecticut commissioners were duly informed of that fact. Mr. Wentz at once took steps for organising a surveying party, and we again met at Portchester, at the time appointed, when the survey was commenced.
In the mean time we gave the subject as careful an examination as circumstances would permit, finding it beset with difficulties, and embracing questions at once of extreme delicacy and great legal importance.
THE ORIGIN AND PRESENT CONDITION OF THE BOUNDARY. The dividing line between this State and the State of Connecticut is derived primarily from an agreement made between the two governments in 1664, establishing it at twenty miles east of the Hudson river, with an adjudication stating the starting point and direction of such a line, according to the belief of the parties at the time. The agreeement, though really made was not executed, but was superseded by the adjudication which was supposed to have the same effect.*
This settlement proving to be grossly erroneous, led to an angry controversy, and in 1683 a new agreement t was made on the same basis as the former, providing however for the retention by Connecticut of certain territory on the sound, settled during the disputes, by persons from that colony, and the transfer to New-York of an equivalent along the northern portion of the line.
In accordance with this agreement, a partial survey was made the next year. The lines then run were resurveyed in 1725, and the residue of the boundary established and the requisite indentures executed in 1731. Copies of the various agreements, reports, laws and explanatory documents relating to these surveys, or extracts therefrom, will be found in connection with the second part of this report or in the appendix. • See appendix H. and I. See appendix M.
Since the last mentioned date there has been no official action of either State affecting this line. The doubts which have arisen during the century and a quarter which has passed, spring both from imperfections and errors in the work of the former surveyors, and the temporary character of the marks adopted to designate the lines which they established.
The lapse of time, the troublous years of the revolution, and the gradual settlement of the country have, on portions of the line, obliterated all trace of their operations, and at the time of our survey, doubts and uncertainties were found to exist along its entire length. Ranges of marked trees had long since disappeared; many of the heaps of stone originally erected had been scattered, leaving no memorial of their location, while modernized monuments presented their claims for recognition, confusing and distracting without satisfactory proof of their authenticity.
Traditions were found inconsistent and contradictory, varying the line in places to a considerable extent. Local surveyors, employed to ascertain detached portions of the line, by taking their direction from various traditionary points, had differed widely from each other and increased rather than diminished the general doubt. Along the whole distance the greatest uncertainty existed and a distrust and want of confidence in all the supposed lines rather than a disposition to contend for any. Residents near the border refrained from voting in either State, while officers of justice and collectors of revenue from both hesitated to exercise their authority up to any clearly defined limit. These circumstances were taken advantage of by those who desired to evade the payment of taxes or the severity of the law.
Each section of the line presents features peculiar to itself which are detailed in their order, beginning at Long Island Sound.
All the surveys, under the direction of the present commission, were made by the projection of 'straight lines, no reliance being placed upon the magnetic needle, either in pursuing straight courses or turning angles. The former surveys were