A "Chain" is both an object and a unit of measurement. It's like picking up
a ruler and calling it a "foot" instead of a ruler.
The most commonly-used chain in Virginia was Gunter's, which was 66 feet
long and consisted of 100 links of 7.92 inches (10 square chains made an
acre, and the 100 links allowed the surveyor to decimalize an otherwise
arbitrary land measurement).
However, many Virginia surveyors found the full 66-foot chain too difficult
to use in the backcountry, so they used a 33' "half chain" instead. They
wound have to remember though that they were taking measurements in 66-foot
chains (the unit of measurement).
To avoid confusion, they refered to their measurements in poles (16.5
feet) which removed the question of which chain they used.
They had the capability of measuring distances to the nearest 7.92" (a link
if the chain), but didn't need that degree of accuracy for patent surveys.
In the 18th century, the surveyors are almost always rounding to the
nearest pole (16.5') In fact, many distances are all even numbers of poles
(32, 8, 256, etc.), which suggests that they were really rounding to the
nearest two poles or half chain (33').
On Friday, August 22, 2014, moveradams via <deed-mapper-users(a)rootsweb.com>
First let me say what a great resource this is. Thanks to all who have
put in the thousands of hours.
I have a question about chains and poles. My understanding is that there
are 4 poles per chain.
However, in the text portion of some of the deeds, the chains are
converted to only 2 poles.
For instance in the Albemarle County, VA deed of 25 May 1734 to James
Using two poles per chain certainly makes the property about the correct
I would appreciate a little insight on that conversion.
To unsubscribe from the list, please send an email to
'unsubscribe' without the quotes in the subject and the body of the message