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Joseph C. Brown (died 1849) was a surveyor for United States General Land Office who during his professional career performed several of major surveys in the Louisiana Territory.

Among his notable surveys were the following:

1.  Initial point of the 5th Principal Meridian (1815) - Brown established the initial point of the 5th Principal Meridian which was to be used for surveying lands in the Louisiana Purchase in the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota. Brown established the baseline on October 27, 1815 at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Prospect Robbins surveyed north from the mouth of the Arkansas River on the Mississippi. Where the two lines met was the Initial Point which is in Louisiana Purchase State Park in Arkansas.

2.  First plat of St. Louis, Missouri (1815-1818) - Brown's starting point in the survey was the home of Auguste Chouteau.

3.  Indiana Territory Line between Missouri and Indian Territory (1823) - Brown surveyed the line south from its origin at the confluence of the Kansas River and Missouri River and then surveyed the Missouri-Arkansas line. Virtually all Native Americans south of the Iowa line were to be moved west of line.

4.  Santa Fe Trail (1825)

5.  Commons of Carondelet (1834)--Brown was retained to re-survey the lands first surveyed by Soulard (1797) and Henri Rector (1818) (only the field notes survived). Elias T. Langham, surveyor general at St. Louis, ordered Brown to re-trace and re-establish the lines of Rector's survey, and when the result of the work was returned to his office, he approved the survey and the same was duly filed in the office of recorder of land titles in Missouri, who thereupon certified that the title was by him duly confirmed of the village of Corondelet to their claim as commons of six thousand arpents of land, as shown by that survey. There is no evidence that this survey was ever brought to the attention of the Land Department in Washington until June, 1839, and the survey was the subject matter of a number of US Supreme Court Cases over the remainder of the 19th Century.

6.  Honey War line (1836)-- Brown's most controversial survey was the re-survey of the Sullivan Line, which caused Missouri to claim its border extended 13 miles into Iowa. When Missouri tax collectors attempted to collect revenue from the new territory they were run out of the state. In the process they cut down three trees with honey bee hives for partial payment. The source of the debate was the definition of the Des Moines Rapids. When Missouri entered the Union in 1820 it said its border extended from the rapids on the River Des Moines. Brown couldn't find the rapids at the said intersection with the river-and hence-said the rapids were further north. The Supreme Court was to repudiate what was called "Brown's Line" and uphold the Sullivan Line as the border (although resurveyed).


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