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Kansas Society of Land Surveyors   |   PO Box 757 Andover, KS 67002   |   316.680.5159     
The Government Land Office (GLO) Project

The Kansas GLO Project was started at the instigation of Fran Lopata of Little Rock, Arkansas who forwarded a set of GLO Notes on CD-ROM for the state of Arkansas to her son, a Kansas land surveyor. A native Kansan, she asked if Kansas had the same kind of information and when the reply was "no," she wanted to know "Why not?"

As a result, a cost benefit analysis was done to determine how to accomplish the same kind of project for Kansas: Where would we get the information, what type of format and equipment should be used, what would it cost, what was the potential time frame for completion, and what would the potential return/utilization be? With those questions in mind, KSLS, placed Cameron Howell, RLS in charge of the project and the necessary fund raising in 2002. The project would be accomplished in three phases: Funding, Acquisition of microfilm, and Conversion to "data-based" digital images. Each phase had to be funded prior to contracting. Very few folks just give away money so some unique methods were used to raise the needed funding.

Eugene Cloutier
To know the value of generosity, it is necessary to have suffered from the cold indifference of others.

Phase One: The Florence McGlasson Gabelmann Memorial Library.

We received our first $3,500.00 donation to purchase the copies of the original GLO notes in return for establishing a memorial library – containing the microfilm copies of the original GLO notes – in honor of the mother of the donors.

"The Florence McGlasson Gabelmann Memorial Library," was established on October 8, 2004 at a reception held at the Kansas State Historical Society. The reception was attended by members of the Gabelmann family, the Board of Directors of KSLS and The Executive Board of The Kansas Historical Society, members of the Kansas State Board of Technical Professions, as well as invited guests, to witness the transfer the nearly 150 rolls of microfiche to the Kansas State Historical Society.

Members of the Board of Technical Professions, Mrs. Fran Lopata (center), Cameron Howell, RLS, GLO Project Manager at the Topeka reception.





The next series of donations came as a result of having two NGS monuments in Leavenworth County named after the donor families involved. (Some people ‘buy’ stars and have their names attached to a specific star and registered “somewhere” for all time. Our donors, thankfully, believe in a more concrete method.) Result: Two monuments (DF7122 "Lopata" and DF7132 "Gabelmann") have been set and Blue-booked. The Lopata Foundation donated a total of $30,000 which provided the funds for the digitization and databasing of the documents copied from the National Archives.
This donation was received in three installments to coincide with the completion of different phases of the digitization, databasing and production of master discs.

Dr. Allan Fromme
People have been known to achieve more as a result of working with others than against them.

Phase Two: The data set to be used had to be as error free as possible. It was decided to use only original data from the National Archives. This would provide a "pristine" data set and eliminate additional transcription errors The data could be acquired in microfilm format. This would be easy to convert, store, and ship The NARA system is not user friendly so we enlisted the aid of the Kansas State Historical Society. Pat Michalis and Bob Knecht were of great assistance in the ordering process.

Albert Einstein: Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Phase Three: Conversion and data basing presented several issues. The end product had to be very user friendly, compatible over a broad range of platforms, and able to be output to printers and/or other applications.

Because most survey firms and other identified end-users are not necessarily computer gurus, a stand-alone set of disks that would run on any IBM-compatible pc or laptop, and that would not require extraordinary computer skills to operate was essential. Each disc has a built-in program that brings up the data and allows the user to move among the links.

The importance of this project cannot be underestimated. And the potential utilization of these records is equally as broad.

For surveyors: Every section in Kansas was surveyed under the direction of the General Land Office. The stones, stakes and pits that were placed in the 1800's still control all property today. Every land survey not in a platted subdivision must use these corners. It is expected that the availability of these notes and plats will result in a savings of more than $250,000 a year in survey costs alone.

For GIS personnel: As a base layer for property descriptions, the format of the plats takes relatively little "massaging" to drop in.

During the course of the project additional users were identified: Geography and natural resource personnel could identify and accurately plot ancient stream banks and terrain conditions;
genealogy folk could use the records to locate original tracts and patents not available elsewhere, historians can accurately plot trails and roads shown on the original plats.
For the naturalist, tree masses and species are available. Soil quality and terrain types are also listed in the notes.

The Kansas Society of Land Surveyors is proud of this project and committed to others like it. Future projects should, and are, being planned.

Andrew Carnegie
Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision; the ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

To order a set of GLO discs, please click on the Historical Records Merchandise tab on the left. All proceeds benefit the KSLS Charitable Foundation's scholarship funds.


Our Mission: The Kansas Society of Land Surveyors is an organization dedicated to the promotion of the common good and welfare of members engaged in the practice of Land Surveying, to foster high standards of professional ethics and practice, to promote the study of Land Surveying problems and the education of Land Surveyors (thus encouraging public faith in the reliance of Land Surveyors and their work).
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