Don Alonzo Spaulding

Remaking Places

Don Alonzo Spaulding spent much of the 1830s traveling and surveying land in Illinois—dividing it based on the grid system. This survey method created townships and ranges split into 640-acre sections that ignored natural boundaries and artificially flattened territory to make it easier to understand for prospective settler colonizers.

Native nations like the Potawatomie had made Illinois home for generations before the existence of a single 640-acre square on a survey map. These maps helped rationalize Native places into unoccupied territory ready to be claimed by white settler colonizers. Spaulding was part of this process. He prepared land for white settler colonization in the wake of the violent removal of Native peoples.


Object Label:

Spaulding Survey Map

An 1830s survey of Rockvale Township in Ogle County by Spaulding.

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

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