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Counties, Townships And Ranges In Illinois

Range Maps for Dummies

Thanks to Ray Henderson for creating this page and giving me permission to post it here.

What does
NE1/4 of NE1/4 Sec 16 T15N-R9W 3PM
really mean?

Much genealogical information can be learned from researching land records but many amateur genealogists find them intimidating. The purpose of this page is to provide a basic overview of the land survey system used today in the State of Illinois, however, the concepts presented here apply equally well to other "Township & Range" states.   Systems such as "Metes & Bounds" used in some eastern states (primairly the thirteen original colonies) and systems used in states where France, Spain and Mexico had large colonial land claims may differ from the Township and Range system described here.

Land Patent Search Page
Find the legal description of parcels of land which belonged to your ancestor

Principal Meridians and Base Lines

Principal Meridians and Base Lines are simply a
coordinate system designed to reference townships.

3 PM & Base Line Principal meridians, running north and south, are much like lines of longitude. Illinois has two principal meridians within its boundaries, the 3rd and 4th meridians. (4th PM is not shown in the example to the right)   The 2nd principal meridian, which is in Indiana, is also used to describe property in some eastern portions of the state. There are a total of thirty six principal meridians.

Base Lines are similiar to principal meridians except they run east and west. There are a total of twenty four baselines. The Base Line we are most concerned with is the Centralia Base Line.


Townships (36 sq miles) are numbered north and south of the baseline and east and west of the principal meridian. For example: T2N-R2W would be read as township 2 north (of the baseline), range 2 west (of the 3rd principal meridian) and is shaded in the map to the right. Twelve of the many Illinois townships are shown in this diagram.

A township consists of 36 sections and measures 6 miles by 6 miles. The sections of township T1S-R2E are shown in the example to the right. Each section of a township is numbered as in this example and each section is one mile on each side - one mile square.

View a larger (slow loading) map of all Illinois Townships here. This public domain map is available at:

Section Divisions

To the right is one section from the township T1S-R2E above . Within each section, land may be referred to as half sections, quarter sections, or quarter of a quarter section. (A one-sixteenth division is called a quarter of a quarter as in the NW1/4 of the NW1/4 in the example to the right.)

1/4 section = 160 acres
1/2 section = 320 acres
1   section = 640 acres
Section Divisions

Putting it all together

A USGS map describes Antioch Cemetery as NE1/4 of NE1/4 Sec 16 T15N-R9W. To find the cemetery:

1. Locate the Township

Township 15 North and Range 9 West is in Morgan County.   (It can be located by counting north 15 townships from the Base Line and counting 9 townships west from the 3rd Principal meridian - see the map of all Illinois Townships)

Morgan Co

2. Locate the section

This diagram displays the location of section 16 of the description
NE1/4 of NE1/4 Sec 16 T15N-R9W

Section 16

3. Locate NE1/4 of NE1/4

The NE1/4 of NE1/4 of the description
NE1/4 of NE1/4 Sec 16 T15N-R9W
is shown in the example to the right - Antioch Cemetery.

 Antioch Cenetery

All Morgan County Townships

Alexander T15N R8W
Chapin-Bethel T15N, R12W 
   (North fractional part of)
Concord-Meredosia T16N R12W
Concord T16N R11W
Franklin-Pisgah T14N R9W
Franklin-East T14N R8W
Jacksonville-Markham T15N R11W 
Jacksonille T15N R10 West
Literberry-Arcadia T16N R10W
Lynnville T14N R11W
Meredosia T16N R13W
Murrayville-West T13N R11W
Murrayville T13N R10W
Nortonville T13N R9W 
Orleans-Pisgah T15N R9W
Prentice West Half of T16N R8W
Waverly T13N R8W
Woodson T14N R10W
Yatesville-Sinclair T16N R9W

Morgan Co Townships