​History of Land Ownership

History of Measurement & Measurement Devices

Land Surveying Units

Magnetic Compass

Magnetic North

True North

History of the Odometer

The Gunter Chain


Napier's Rods & Bone


The Slide Rule

Tidbits of Math

Snippets of Math


Career Opportunity Engineering and/or Surveying

Presidents Who Were Land Surveyors

Republic of Texas Boundary Survey of 1841

History of Marion County, Texas

History of Jefferson, Texas


TimeLine of Time Measurement History

Major American Clock Makers

Rotation of the Earth

Latitude, Longitude & Time

American Time Zone

Time Zones Around the World

The American Meridian

The Story of Longitude

The Gregorian Calendar

The Calendar Clock

The Industrial Revolution (Kitchen Clock)

The Clock and Compass Face

 Brief  Summary of  an Almanac  Subject

                                                          HISTORY  OF  ​​MEASUREMENT  AND   MEASUREMENT DEVICES

The idea of measuring things is older than written history. The concept of measuring an object by comparing it with an ‘approved standard’ goes back hundreds of years. For purposes of this writing, we will address the measuring of lengths or distance.

Most people have measured objects with a ruler or yard stick; but, few are aware of the history or how common units of measurement came to exist. Early standards were derived from physical dimensions of the human body. The accepted standard was usually from a person of high command or nobility. The inch, palm, hand, span, foot, cubit, pace, yard, and fathom can be traced to the human anatomy. 

Tools to measure longer horizontal distances were developed by combining these shorter dimensions into devices of increasing length. A rope was one of the early devices used to measure longer distances; this device was of limited use due to its probable change in length due to stretch. 

It was one of the more unusual devices which was to be the base for English measurements. This device was a rigid pole measuring 16 ½ feet. A number of names are used to reference this device: a “rod, a pole and a  perch”. The distance of 16 ½' is used to develop a series of devices used to measure horizontal distances in the English system.  

The “pole, rod or perch” was doubled to create longer units. This process resulted in the “two pole chain”. This device was then extended by doubling the 33' chain, which produced the “four pole” or 66' chain”. It was the “2 pole and 4 pole” chains which were the standards used in the colonies of America.

During the term of President Thomas Jefferson, these English units were adopted as part of the “standard for weights & measures”. The chain was used to measure distance for the westward expansion  of America. It is overwhelming to think that the western part of America was measured  66' at a time!

The steel tape can be traced back to 1870. It was developed from an unrelated improvement of the day. The popular dress of ladies in that period was hoop skirts. A frame to support these dresses  was developed from a flexible hoopskirt wire. A surveyor, Daniel Wheeler of Worcester, Mass., saw this wire as having possibilities as a measuring device. He obtained 100 feet of the wire and placed solder at one foot  intervals to make the first practical steel tape.  Working with Mr. Wheeler in the same party was L.A. Nichols, who recognized the commercial possibilities of this produce. Mr. Nichols later founded the Chicago Steel Tape Co. and as  the saying what developed  “is the rest of the story”. 

Another interesting piece of information; Texas, in the early 1900's,   adopted the “Spanish Vara”  as the states official unit of measurement (a Texas Vara is defined as 33 1/3“).  The use of this measurement is still common. Maps concerning state owned land that is to be submitted  to  the Texas General Land Office. 

A  subject yet to be  addressed, is  “why are counties in West  Texas shaped differently than those  in East Texas? The answer is another story in the unique history of land in Texas.             
                                                                                                                                                                                                  Produced 10/06/2012
Revised 5/30/2014


​​​​​​​​​​​​Museum Of Measurement And Time

The Museum's effort to preserve the history of American Clocks and items which measure includes a compilation of short articles which address items featured in the museum. 

To continue this endeavor, the museum provides handouts of this information for museum visitors. The list included below is an example of some of the subjects which have been addressed. The articles are provided to assist in the explaination of items included in the museum. They are not intended to provide a detailed study of the subject. Visitors may obtain a copy of most of this information during their visit to the museum. This information is not copyrighted; however, some subjects and information contained in the articles may be protected by separate copyright. It is recommended that use of the information be for personal use. Copies of this information are not be distributed without specific authorization from the Museum of Measurement and Time.

A copy of almanac subjects is available when you visit the museum. Please make your request for specific information upon arrival.  For persons unable to visit the museum, written requests will be addressed on an individual basis. 

This information is featured below and will be changed periodically. Visit us often for the updates!