Here’s a profession where history reading is a critical skill:
Caption: Robert Young writes down the measurements recorded by state-of-the-art digital equipment held by survey party chief Barry Brown.
See excerpts of the story, about George Washington’s profession, below the fold.
J. G. Domke is a free-lance reporter, reporting to the Star-Telegram. Domke got an article into today’s Star-Telegram, “Surveying combines history, technology.” The article says:
It might be easy to say that your land goes from the fence to the road and that you own 100 acres, but in reality you might own less and the fence may be on the neighbor’s property. The only way to know for sure is to have it surveyed.
Land transactions in Texas are especially closely scrutinized from a history viewpoint. Ownership of the land and the underlying, generally separated mineral rights dictate who can get rich off the oil, coal or other minerals, and who can keep surface occupancy (you may own the land, but you must vacate to let the coalminers strip mine the coal underneath . . .).
Due diligence work even has a specialist in Texas that many other states don’t have: A Texas Landman, generally an expert in deeds and surveys, and one the lawyers go to in order to figure out sticky ownership challenges, especially where oil rights are split to the descendants of a landowner, three or four generations ago (do you know off the top of your head what 1/24th of a 1/6th interest is?).
Especially in commercial real estate, such a leasing or licensing land for towers for cellular telephone systems, all the paper must be scrutinized as far back as recorded history for that piece of land, before the banks will sign-off on the deal.
Mr. Domke writes:
The fence is simply for keeping cattle from getting loose,” says Robert Young, president of Frontier Surveying. He has to find the original markers and then, with state-of-the-art tools, find the property boundary.
Corpus Christi-based Frontier Surveying specializes in meeting the needs of its clients — energy companies, drilling and pipeline companies — who have to pay royalties to property owners and those who own the mineral rights to the land.
Young says in North Texas he might have to research records dating back to the 1840s, when the Republic of Texas gave away land and issued “empresario contracts” to bring people to Texas. In South Texas, he goes back to Spanish land grants to find the true property lines.
Why do I say it requires a knowledge of history?
Ben Thomson, director of surveying for the Texas General Land Office, says that throughout Texas there are gaps between two properties or overlapping property lines that force courts to go way back to the original land sale, and which send surveyors out into the field.
“My job is to know the true history of the state of Texas,” Young says. “They teach history in school, but they don’t go into the depths of the sovereignty and the fact of how did Texas get this land settled.”
There were 5,000 surveyors in Texas a couple of decades ago, but only about 2,500 today, and they have an average age of 63. With the boom in natural gas drilling, and the boom in residential development, and the various technology booms, demand is increasing for surveyors and Landmen.
Who said there are no practical applications for history?