The image below is of a survey titled “Township 40 North of the baseline Range 1 East of the 3rd Principal Meridian” in Ogle County. This township was labeled this for its location in the Rectangular Survey System (explanatory PDF here). The survey shown below is part of a book held at the Ogle County Recorder’s Office and labeled “Government Field Notes” — these notes seem to be a kind of rough draft for the formal survey of the township survey dated 14 Dec. 1841 (accessible here as part of the Illinois Federal Township Plats). The formal survey seems rewritten but looks very much like this map below.
Click on photos and then click on “View Full Size” to see these images magnified.
Here is the same map, showing the area that would become modern-day Rochelle. The downtown is in the southeast quarter of the southwest quarter of Sec. 24 — basically, it’s that part of Section 24 between the “79.90” and the “640a”:Some observations:
• Since the final survey is dated 14 Dec. 1841, the information on the map must have been collected before December 1841, and, so this map would seem to be the most detailed information available on what this land looked like before there were major infrastructure changes. The fields marked on the maps perhaps could be identified as belonging to particular early settlers, as described in histories such as the 1878 History of Ogle County .
• It’s my understanding that while some these early settlers may be living on and making claims to buy this land by 1841, no one would have been able to buy the land itself (from the federal government’s land patent system) until these township surveys were completed.
• This township was named Flagg Township at the first township meeting held 2 April 1850, perhaps after early settler in Section 25, Willard P. Flagg. It may be his claim that contains the field located in the northeast corner of Section 25.
• The land that would become downtown Rochelle — in the southwest corner of section 24 in this map of Flagg Township — seems surrounded by water-logged soils referred to variously as “wet land,” “wet prairie,” “very wet prairie,” “swamp,” “slough,” and “marsh.” The fields in Section 24 and 25 and the “Road from Rockford to Ottawa” seem to be in the (from my personal observations) modestly elevated land between the wetlands marked in light blue. Thus, the reason Rochelle is where it is and is not, say, a mile southwest, has to do with elevation and drainage issues.