Nineteenth century General Land Office surveyors wrote descriptions of landforms, soil, water, vegetation and wildlife in their field note books while they were surveying in the midwest and western United States. These note books are used by researchers reconstructing the ecology of an area during a particular slice of time.
Surveyors vary in how much detail they included and how easy it is to read their handwriting.
The Archives and Special Collections has a copy of one field note book for Yankton County, Dakota Territory, dated 1860 through 1866. Part one is the field notes for the exterior boundaries of township no. 92 north of range no. 54 west, and townships no. 93, 94, 95 and 96 north of ranges no. 54, 55, 56 and 57. Part two is the field notes for the subdivisionsal and meander lines of township no. 92 north of range 54 west, and townships no. 93, 94, 95 and 96 north of ranges no. 54, 55, 56 and 57.
Other GLO survey field notes can be seen at the State Archives of the South Dakota State Historical Society or online at the South Dakota Digital Archives.