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Original County Surveyor Files for McHenry County, IL

Hr Green, Inc.

Phyllis K. Walters, McHenry County Recorder, is pleased to announce the recovery of approximately 120 years of County Surveyor land records. These invaluable records of McHenry County date from the predominantly unsettled prairie to 1957, and contain surveying and geological information, as well as historical data on the development of McHenry County.

The first surveyors used a compass and chain to survey the land, and according to the Recorder’s Office, the first elected county surveyor was John Brink, in 1843. Charles H. Tryon was elected in 1888 and later worked with his nephews Charles Leon Tryon and George Leslie “Link” Tryon until 1957 when the County Surveyor office was abolished statewide. George started a private land surveying business which later became McHenry County Surveying owned by Don Perry and in 1991 turned the uniquely cataloged records over to Smith Engineering Consultants (now known as HR Green). Later in 1998, John Smith and Smith Engineering Professional Land Surveyor, Mike Reed, decided to further preserve the documents by scanning each to a digital file.

The County Surveyor held vast knowledge about the county and reviewed, approved and signed off on any disputes, decisions or divisions of property. Although there were few county surveyors, they meticulously retained their records and worked together.

Some examples of historic data noted in the records were original town and road names, creeks, rivers, lakes, fueling stations including gas pumps and buried tanks, the melting of the glacier at Glacial Park, archeological sites and even Native American burial mounds.

Pictured from left to right: is Timothy J. Hartnett, Mike Fischer, Phyllis K. Walters (Recorder) and Cathleen Cwick (Network Analyst).

Pictured from left to right: is Timothy J. Hartnett, Mike Fischer, Phyllis K. Walters (Recorder) and Cathleen Cwick (Network Analyst).

Tim Hartnett, Principal/VP and Mike Fischer, PLS of HR Green, Inc. (HR Green) presented the records to the Recorder’s Office earlier this month. Also donated were digital images, scanned by HR Green, numbered according to the original archiving system. Five “pocket” field books carried by the original federal government surveyors were also given, and Recorder’s staff has scanned the pages containing many historic notations. The books are undergoing a de-acidification and preservation process for future display at the Recorder’s office. HR Green is pleased to return the original documents to their rightful home so other real estate professionals, and the public, have the ability to view and utilize the land information. Tim Hartnett said “HR Green took great pride in the preservation of the documents and are honored to donate these items to the County Recorder Office to maintain their place in McHenry County History.”

Recorder Walters plans to integrate the information, and digital images contained in the surveyor land records, into the office’s computer system, making all the information available to people who utilize the office and of course, the public.

Commenting on the value of the County Surveyor records Recorder Walters said, “I am so pleased to bring these significant records back to the county and to the Recorder’s Office. Now, the many people who perform research will benefit from their preservation, including surveyors, engineers, title and utility companies, historians and various governmental departments to name a few.”

Possibly in the future, data could be shared with the County GIS Department and used within GIS interactive maps.

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