A property is described in a deed in three basic ways: Metes and Bounds; Subdivision and Lot; and Section, Township, and Range. The first two are common in Tennessee whereas the third is not (it isn’t unheard of, but not common).
Subdivision and Lot descriptions do not require a surveyor to write them. However, a metes and bounds description does. Metes and bounds are quite literally the measurements and boundary described. Things like: “North 20 feet to a rock in the creek,” ” N24°E 16 chains 27 links to the sourwood where the old gray mare stands,” or “16 paces to an X in a stone.”
My ancestor Joseph Kelly acquired some land on the Tennessee River. It is a metes and bounds description that includes Range 11, Section 4. How do I locate that area?
Well, you would need to go back in time before the Civil War and make a copy of the GLO (Government Land Office) map that has the dimensions for your section. You see, when the north invaded Tennessee, the good folks here decided that they didn’t want them thar Yankees getting the maps and they destroyed them.
Likely, you will need to determine what has been done on the adjoiners and concede to their descriptions.