The Registre d’Arpentage is French for “register of land surveying.” Created between 1798 and 1806 by surveyor Antoine Pierre Soulard (1766-1825), the plats, or maps, found within the register are often called the Soulard Surveys. The purpose of the Registre was to certify and locate grants made by the French and Spanish governments. At the time of the creation of his surveys, Soulard worked for the Spanish government but wrote in his native language of French. After the Louisiana Purchase, he was appointed Surveyor General of Upper Louisiana and continued his Registre in English.
Because of conflicts of interest, Soulard was replaced as Surveyor General in May 1806, at which time the Registre ends. Not all French and Spanish land grants are found in Soulard’s Registre; many others are found in the Papers of Original Claimants and in the record books of the board of land commissioners. However, some well-known settlers in Soulard’s Registre include Daniel Boone, Moses Austin, Jacques Clamorgan, and Auguste and Pierre Chouteau. Although rare, women such as Pelagie Sarpy and Marie Vallé also had land grants recorded.
This collection consists of 710 surveys. For each claimant person in the register, a plat of the survey is found, usually with a brief description of boundaries and its situation in relation to other landmarks or villages. Rather than the public land survey system used later in Missouri, the surveys under the French and Spanish were done under an older system called metes and bounds. In the metes and bounds system, natural boundaries such as rivers and lakes were used along with small stones and trees, often marked with the claimant person’s initials. The unit of measure was the French arpent, which equaled 6/7ths of an acre.
Rights and Reproductions
Copyright is in the public domain. Items reproduced for publication should carry the credit line: Courtesy of the Missouri State Archives. To order a reproduction from the archival TIFF file, inquire about permissions, or for information about prices, contact Missouri State Archives at: (573) 751-3280 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
How to Use This Collection
The collection may be browsed in its entirety, or searched by subject, date, quantity of arpents, situation (in this case meaning location), river, city, county or creator. Please note the Library of Congress Authority Headings list Antoine Soulard as Anthoine Soulard. To assist searching by name, a separate index has been set up, utilizing the original Registre d’Arpentage index pages. The names in the Index were often Anglicized. For instance, while the image from the Registre may say Dn Santiago MacKay, the image is indexed as James MacKay. Although the Missouri State Archives does not provide translations, a help sheet is provided to assist with common phrases found in the Registre.
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