Describing Acreages & Distances
In non-rectangular land descriptions, distance is usually described in terms of either feet or rods, and square measure in terms of acres. Such descriptions are called Metes and Bounds descriptions. In rectangular land descriptions, square measure is again in terms of acres, and the location of the land in such terms as N 1-2 (north one-half) SE 1-4 (south east one-fourth or quarter), etc., as shown in the following figures:
Descriptions of land always read first from either the North or the South. Figures 1, 2, 3 & 4, notice that they all start with N(north), or S(south), such as NW, SE, etc. They are never WN (west north), ES (east south) etc.
Important: It is comparatively simple for anyone to understand a description, that is, determine were a tract of land is located, from even a long description. The secret is to read or analyze the description from the rear or backwards.
Example: Under figure 3, the first description reads E 1/2, SE 1/4, SW 1/4, SW 1/4. The last part of the description reads SW 1/4, which means that the tract of land we are looking for is somewhere in that quarter (as shown in Figure 1.) Next back we find SW 1/4, which means the tract we are after is somewhere in the SW 1/4 SW 1/4 (as shown in Figure 2.) Next back, we find the SE 1/4, which means that the tract is in the SE 1/4 SW 1/4 SW 1/4 (as shown in Figure 4.) Next back and our last part to look up, is the E 1/2 of the above, which is the location of the tract described by the whole description (as shown in Figure 3).
Metes & Bound Descriptions
It is a description of a tract of land by starting at a given point, running so many feet a certain direction, so many feet another direction etc., back to the point of beginning. Example: in figure 5 notice the small tract of land outlined. The following would be a typical metes and bounds description of that tract of land. "Begin at the center of the section, thence north 660 feet, thence east 660 feet, thence south 660 feet, thence west 660 feet, back to the point of beginning, and containing 10 acres, being part of Sec. No. etc."
View figure 5.
Important: To locate a tract of land from a metes and bounds description, start from the point of beginning, and follow it out (do not read it backwards as in the case of rectangular description).
The small tract of land just located by the above metes and bounds description could also be described as the SW 1/4 SW 1/4 NE 1/4 of the section. In most cases, the same tract of land may be described in different ways. The rectangular system of describing and locating land as shown in figures 1, 2, 3 and 4 is the most simple and almost always used when possible.
How to Read Descriptions Which Show Direction in Terms of Degrees
A circle contains 360 degrees. Explanation: if you start at the center of a circle and run 360 straight lines an equal angle apart to the edge of the circle, so as to divide the circle into 360 equal parts, the difference of direction between each line is one degree.
In land descriptions, degree readings are not a measure of distance. They are combined with either north or south, to show the direction a line runs from a given point.
In figure 8, the north-south line, and the east-west line divide the circle into 4 equal parts, which means that each part contains 90 degrees as shown. Several different direction lines are shown in this diagram, with the number of degrees each varies east or west from the north and south starting points (remember again that all description read from the north or south).
We all know what north-west is. It is a direction which is half-way between north and west. In terms of degrees the direction north-west would read, north 45 degrees west.
View figure 8.
Example of a Land Description in Terms of Degrees
At this time, study figure 8 for a minute or two. In figure 8, notice the small tract. The following metes and bound description will locate this small tract. "begin at the beginning point, thence n 20 degrees west - 200 feet, thence n 75 degrees east - 1320 feet, thence s 30 degrees east - 240 feet, thence s 45 degrees west -420 feet, thence west -900 feet back to the point of beginning, containing so many acres, etc.