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October 3, 1997

Jerry Adamson came to Noble county in 1969 when his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Smith Adamson, moved here from Carrier, where Jerry had graduated from high school. Although he was stricken with polio at the age of 4, Jerry recovered to the point where only his left hand was weakened, but he claims he can now perform any task required of him. He went on to earn a degree in agriculture education from Oklahoma State University, and that enabled him to hire on with the U.S. Forest Service. He retired from that career, three years ago after working primarily in Arizona and New Mexico. These days he spends his time largely traveling around the country in his pickup with a smaller trailer attached, accompanied by his faithful Doberman. Home base, when he's there, is Baxter Springs, Kansas.

Jerry has fond memories of the years he spent on a farm in southern Noble county, just off a road leading to Lake McMurtry. Somewhere in that area he found two devices that would not be easily recognized by the average person. They are called surveyor's monuments, or brass caps, as engineers, surveyors and many ranchers in Western states refer to them. They are not often seen because they are used only in special situations, Jerry says. Having two in the same proximity and not used as planned puts them in the category of rare indeed. The story is sufficiently interesting that Jerry has taken the time to write about these two specific brass caps. Most of what follows is in his own words:

"It is a long way from Oklahoma to where these caps were intended to be used," he says. "A quick lesson in history tells us that when the West was settled, our forefathers had learned some facts of life. Animals have been 'marking' their territories as a natural act for many years. Man also has territorial instincts that cause him to erect walls, fences and monuments. In settling the West, it became important to monument that land so ownership could be established. The original surveys of the 1800s were performed with instructions to monument with: 1. Stone, with pits and a mound of earth; or, 2. Stone, with mound of stone; or, 3. Stone with bearing trees, or even to a pit with charred stake or quart of charcoal. The idea was to mark the survey with the 'greatest permanency.' In many situations, it was difficult to find a suitable marker, so it was difficult to identify the monument from the rest of the terrain. It became obvious that re-monumentation must occur before settlement could be effective.

"By the early 1900s the settlers and government officials had learned that permanent monuments to be used for marking or identifying land boundaries were a necessity. These two brass caps (in Noble county) are mounted on a two and a half inch (inside diameter; three-inch outer diameter) thirty-six inch long wrought iron pipe, definitely a longlasting object. They were also filled with concrete so that when the pipe rusted away, a concrete core would survive to help with identification. This was an improvement over a marked stone with mound of earth."

We'll have more on Jerry Adamson's tale of the two brass caps in southern Noble county in the next Northwest Corner.