Map of , Geauga Co., OH, [between ca. 6 Apr. and 18 May 1837]. Featured version copied 24 May 1837 onto oversized page that was tipped into Geauga County Deed Record, vol. 24, p. 99; cartography in handwriting of Willard Beals; surrounding text in handwriting of ; Geauga County Archives and Records Center, Chardon, OH. Transcription from a digital color image made of original in 2011. For more complete source information, see the source note for Deed to Caroline Grant Smith, 11 Dec. 1836.
Single page, measuring 28⅜ × 21¼ inches (72 × 54 cm). Horizontal lines (three above the map and fourteen below) were inscribed in graphite. The top and bottom recto edges were folded inward into a gate fold. Then, the map was folded in half and adhered to the gutter edge of Geauga County Deed Record, vol. 24, p. 99. Tears at the folds have resulted in missing text. Due to preservation concerns, this fragile map was removed from the volume after 1997 and was conserved. The map was pasted onto cream-colored cardstock. The cardstock verso was later reinforced with nine letter-size pages of white cardstock and placed between sheets of Mylar and sealed with double-sided tape. This document remained in the possession of the Geauga County Recorder’s Office from its recording date until 1997, when volume 24 of Geauga County Deed Record was transferred to the Geauga County Archives and Records Center.
An official map of , Ohio, was created in spring 1837, during a time of development and population growth. The map drew on similar past efforts. In mid-1833, JS directed the ’s first efforts at city planning in Kirtland. In accordance with a 2 August 1833 revelation calling for the laying out of the city of Kirtland, drew a plat that reenvisioned the town with the in the center block, serving as the city’s sacred focal point, and twenty half-acre lots in each of the forty-eight surrounding blocks. That 1833 plat was maintained by Kirtland to track the land sold or allotted to individual church members.
Town planning and land apportionment and acquisition continued in in the years following. In late October 1835, JS “made some observations” to his scribe “concerning the plan of the City which is to be built up hereafter on this ground consecrated for a of .” Though contemporary records shed no light on JS’s observations at that time, by fall and winter 1836 he and other church leaders had purchased a substantial amount of land in and around Kirtland. In addition, land purchased for the church in Kirtland had been divided into smaller allotments that could be sold to the growing number of church members.
As the population grew, so did the need to regulate land sales and allotments. In April 1837 JS and other Kirtland landowners approached Willard Beals, a surveyor from Troy Township, about drawing an official map of Kirtland that would be recognized by Geauga County officials in land transactions. The process to create a new survey of Kirtland may also have been part of church leaders’ plan for developing the city. According to , on 6 April JS “presented us in some degree the plot of the city of Kirtland (which is the strong hold of the daughter of Zion) as it was given him by vision, it was great marvelous & glorious. the city extended to the east, west, North, & South, Steam boats will come puffing into the city our Goods will be conveyed upon railroads from Kirtland to many places & probably to Zion. houses of worship would be reared unto the most high beautiful streets was to be made for the Saints to walk in Kings of the earth would come to behold the glory thereof & many glorious things not now to be named would be bestowed upon the Saints, but all these thing are better imagined than spoken by the Children of Jacob.”
In April, likely in response to JS’s visionary description of , Beals was commissioned to perform the survey and draw the map. He completed the survey and submitted his map to the recorder, , on 18 May 1837. Sixty-eight landowners in Kirtland, including JS, approved the survey and acknowledged its accuracy before it was filed with the county. Beals earned $576.75 for his work, which included six days of surveying the land and the drawing of the map. Shortly after Beals created the map, the block and lot numbers associated with it began appearing in land and tax records.
Although it is not known if JS was directly involved in creating this map, he was one of the landowners who initiated its creation and paid Beals for the work, and the receipt suggests he played a leading role: “Joseph Smith jr & others to W.W. Beals To making official Map of the City of containing 4494 Lots.” The map resembles the earlier Kirtland city plat and the plat of the City of Zion, suggesting that Beals had access to these church documents or that he worked directly with JS and other church leaders while drafting. The Beals map, like earlier city plats that JS oversaw, highlights the centrality of the in Kirtland. City life was to continue to revolve around the House of the Lord, with six lots set aside in the city’s central block for that edifice. In addition to the central block, plotting 224 residential blocks with twenty lots in each is also similar to the earlier design and reflects how JS and church leaders configured lots at that time. This map, much like the church’s earlier city-planning maps, does not take into account the area topography and omits the Chagrin River and the major roads that ran through the town. The streets on the new map are laid out like those in the earlier Kirtland plat, though in that plat they are unnamed and in Beals’s map featured here they are named after church leaders or members. There are 225 blocks arranged in a fifteen-by-fifteen-block pattern. The blocks are numbered in a serpentine pattern, beginning with block 1 in the northeast corner and ending with 225 in the southwest corner. That is, blocks 1–15 run north to south along the easternmost column, and then 16–30 run south to north in the next column, and so on. Each block is divided into twenty lots, organized in two rows of ten lots. The center block, 113, has only fourteen lots designated. Where the easternmost six lots would be is an open space, the north third of which is taken up by a drawing of the House of the Lord.
There are two contemporaneous versions of this map. The one featured here is the official version as delivered to and recorded by the county recorder. A copy made by Beals for church leaders is now at the Church History Library. The two versions are nearly identical, except that the official version contains an explanatory addendum stating that the landowners had approved the plat map. Damage to and subsequent conservation work done on the featured copy rendered some words and characters illegible; footnotes and brackets below compare the text to the copy held at the Church History Library.
Pioneer and General History of Geauga County, 70–71. Hyrum Smith discussed the Saints’ intent to further develop Kirtland and the pressing need for town lots in a letter to Charles C. Rich in February 1837. (Hyrum Smith, Kirtland, OH, to Charles C. Rich, [Pleasant Grove, IL], 5 Feb. 1837, Charles C. Rich, Collection, CHL.)
Historical Society of Geauga County. Pioneer and General History of Geauga County, with Sketches of Some of the Pioneers and Prominent Men. Evansville, IN: Unigraphic, 1973.
Rich, Charles C. Collection, 1832–1908. CHL. MS 889.
Newel K. Whitney began a list to monitor and track the transfer of lot assignments from the 1833 plat to lots represented on the new Beals plat. (“List of Town Lots Sold by Johnson and Whitney,” [Kirtland, OH], no date, Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU; see also Oliver and Elizabeth Cowdery to John Johnson, Deed, 27 May 1837, Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 24, p. 374, microfilm 20,240, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
Situate in the Township of Geauga County and State of Ohio. Surveyed into 225 blocks 40 Rods square each excepting the centre tier running N. & S. which is 43 Rods E & W. & the tier E. of the centre is 41 Rods E & W. with Streets crossing each other at right angles 4 Rods in width and running Magnetically N & S. E & W. Each block (excepting what is before excepted) are divided into 20 equal lots containing half an acre each— Numbered as will appear by the Map——
[Stylized arrow in top left of map, indicating up is north]
[Drawing of 225 numbered blocks in 15 rows and 15 columns. The center block, numbered 113, has a drawing of the taking up the north third.]
The ground on which the stands is 40 Rods front on Smith Street and 15 Rods on Whitney and Joseph Streets. The N. side of said building is just 4 Rods South of S. line of Whitney Street and parallel, there[with, the E. an]d exactly 3 Rods W. of the W. line of [Smith S]treet—: All the Lots lying lengthwise on the W. side of Smith Street <and [a]djoining the same> are 7 Rods by 20 all the other way 4 by 23. all on the E side of said <Street> lengthwise 5 Rods by 20. the other way 4 [by tw]enty one. all others 4 by 20 Rods— The above Surveyed and certified by Willard W. Beals Surveyor for . In the Year A.D. 1837—
Be it remembered that in this the month of April One thousand Eight hundred and thirty seven. Pe[rsona]lly appeared the Persons whose names are below inserted personally known to me as part owners of the plat <and acknowledged that the plat> drawn and presented by Willard W Beals. County Surveyor, to be their free [w]ill, and that they are still satisfied therewith Justice of the Peace Seal Arnold Healey, Israel Knap, Wm McClary, , John Isham, . , Levi Osgood, Nancy Richardson Stary [Sterry] Fisk , , , Reuben Field, Wm Aldrich, John Morton, Zemira Draper, , , Willard Woodstock, , Raymond Clark, Wm Tinney <Jr.> , , Samuel Newcomb. Blake Baldwin, , , Solomon Freeman, Russel Potter, Reuben Wm. Felshaw. Melvin Wlbour, . Symon Dyke. Bachis [Bechias] Dustin Hezekiah Fisk, , , , , , , , , , John B. Carpenter , Joseph Smith Jr., , , Albert Miner,
Received 18th. & Recorded 24th. May AD 1837—. Recorder. [p. 99]