The Ellicott Stone
By: Gregory C. Spies, Esq.
The Ellicott Stone is an international boundary marker or landmark. It is the only known stone monument set by Major Andrew Ellicott when he surveyed the line of demarcation between the United States and Spain during the years 1798-1800. All other monuments along the 1st U.S. Boundary were post mounds set approximately every mile from the Mississippi River to the Chattahoochee River.
Andrew Ellicott, Esq., an astronomer and surveyor was commissioned by George Washington to represent the U.S. as Commissioner to carry out the provisions of the Treaty of San Lorenzo el Real, also known as the Pinckney Treaty. Thomas Freeman was appointed Surveyor. Article 1 of the treaty delineated the boundary between Spain and the U.S. as the 31st parallel of North latitude.
Ellicott set the monument after his survey crew ran a guide or compass line from the Pearl River near Natchez. He set up an astronomical observatory on a bluff south of "Grog Hall". Today this bluff is called Seymour's Bluff and stands fifty feet above the Mobile River. Ellicott proceeded to take elevations and sightings on the various stars, planets, the moon & the sun to calculate his geographical position.
This brown ferruginous sandstone monolith is located in Mobile County, Alabama on the west side of the Mobile River North of Le Moyne, Alabama. ( Map ) The Ellicott Stone is also the initial point for all U.S. Public Land surveys in the Southern part of Alabama & Mississippi. It is the point of intersection of what is known today as the the St. Stephens Meridian & the St. Stephens Baseline. From 1803 until after 1813, the U.S. Deputy Land Surveyors used the Ellicott Stone to lay out the townships and ranges North of the 31st parallel. After 1813 the survey of the townships South of Ellicott's mound line were begun.
North Face of the Ellicott Stone which reads
"U.S., Lat.31., 1799"- set by the joint U.S./Spanish
survey party on April 10, 1799. N.B.
1.) crack in the upper right was caused by a careless
tree logger circa 1917
2.) brass disk drilled into top of stone to provide
"a more accurate point" by the USCGS in 1936
3.) hole below the date "1799" on the South face was caused by
buckshot circa 1974
4.) holes to the right of"Lat. 31." on the North face was caused
by buckshot circa 1974.