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.
To know the value of generosity, it is necessary
to have suffered from the cold indifference of
Phase One: The Florence McGlasson Gabelmann Memorial
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
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
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.
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
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