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the general laws for the disposal of the public lands of the United States, and they can only be disposed of in such manner as may be provided for from time to time by special enactment.
The act of Congress of February 24, 1871, (Stat. L., vol. 16, page 430,) provided for the disposal of certain useless military reservations therein mentioned, viz: Forts Lane, in Oregon ; Walla Walla, in Washington Territory ; Zarah, in Kansas; Camp McGarry, in Nevada; Fort Sumner, in the Territory of New Mexico; Forts Jesup and Sabine, in Louisiana; Forts Wayne and Smith, in Arkansas; such portion of Fort Abercrombie reservation, in Minnesota, as lies east of the Red River of the North, and such portion of the reservation at Fort Bridger, in the Territory of Wyoming, as may no longer be required for military purposes.
In accordance with the provisions of said act, the lands covered by the reservations at Fort Lave, in Oregon, Fort Zarah, in Kansas, and Fort Jesup, in Louisiana, have been offered at public sale, with no bidders in the case of Fort Lane, and the sale of a few tracts in the case of Fort Zarah and Fort Jesup. The tracts not disposed of at the public sales, thereafter became subject to private entry at the appraised price, under the terms of the act.
Fort Walla Walla has been transferred back to the custody of the War Department, as being still required for military purposes. In the case of the other reservations mentioned in said act, except the three offered at public sale as above stated, further action of Congress is deemed necessary for the proper disposal of them, and the recommendations made in connection therewith, on pages 40, 41, and 42 of my last annual report, are respectfully renewed.
SAC AND FOX AND OTTOE AND MISSOURIA INDIAN RESERVATIONS IN
KANSAS AND NEBRASKA.
In the act of Congress of August 15, 1876, (Stat. L., vol. 19, page 208,) provision was made for the survey and appraisement of the Ottoe and Missouria reservation and the Sac and Fox reservation in the States of Kansas and Nebraska. It was also provided therein that after such survey and appraisement a portion comprising 120,000 acres of the Ottoe and Missouria reservation and a portion not to exceed ten sections of the Sac and Fox reservation, should be offered for sale " for cash, to actual settlers only, in tracts not exceeding 160 acres to each purchaser," but with the proviso that no portion of the land should “be sold at less than the appraised value thereof, and in no case less than $2.50 per acre;" also, that if the Secretary should see proper, and the Indians consent, the land might be sold for one-third cash, one-third to be paid in one year and one-third in two years, with interest.
The survey and appraisement of the said reservations having been made, and the portion of each to be sold selected, according to law, the district land officers at Beatrice, Nebr., through whom the law directs that the sales shall be made, have been properly instructed for the sale of the lands selected for disposal to such parties as may prove to be entitled to purchase as actual settlers on the respective tracts. Descriptive lists of the tracts, having been prepared in this office, were sent to the district land officers with the instructions ordering the sale.
The Sac and Fox lands are to be sold for cash only. The Ottoe and Missouria landsmiy be sold on the terms allowing credit payments already indicated.
DECISIONS AFFECTING HOMESTEAD RIGHTS.
1. Iu a case in which a homestead party was prevented from making final proof on his entry, by reason of being confined in the penitentiary, it was held that a legally appointed person might act for him in making the proof, and that if the proof was satisfactory, the patent would issue in the name of tbe homestead party.- (Commissioner's letter of July 31, 1875, in the case of Emanuel Strickland, arising in Camden land district, Arkansas.)
2. Soldiers now in the Army of the United States may, under section 2293 of the Revised Statutes, perform the preliminary acts relating to homestead entries, in the classes of cases to which it applies, without attendance at the district land office, on the part of such soldiers, by proceeding in the manner therein provided for; but section 2308 does not repeal the provisions of section 2305, whicb in all cases require personal residence of the party entering land for a period of at least one year after he shall have commenced his improvements.-(Commissioner's letter to register and receiver at Cheyenne, Wyo., of November 6, 1875.)
3. The ordering of hearings by the Commissioner of the General Land Office is a matter within his discretion, and from which appeals do not properly lie.—(Secretary's letter of November 27, 1875, case of Sbadduck vs. Homer; rules of practice, approved November 29, 1875.)
4. In case of the cancellation of a homestead entry, the first legal applicant for the land thereafter takes it notwithstanding any hardships it may cause a party living thereon, and intending to homestead it.(Secretary's letter of December 1, 1875, case of Cox vs. Gilliland.)
5. In case of the decease of a homestead party, the surviving widow, if any, or heirs or devisee, are not required to continue residence as well as cultivation on the land, in order to obtain the patent, but either res. idence or cultivation will suffice, and the entry is not liable to contest on the ground of change of residence or abandonment of the land by the party for more than six months at any time, under section 2297 of the Revised Statutes, unless the alleged change of residence or abandonment occurred during the lifetime of the deceased homestead party.(Secretary's letter of December 4, 1875, case of Dorame vs. Towers.)
6. The right to tax lands entered under the homestead laws does not accrue to the State until the expiration of the period of residence and cultivation, and until the final proof required by law shall bave been made and approved, and the final homestead certificate issued.-(Commissioner's letter to Secretary, of December 23, 1875.)
7. A homestead settler has a right to obtain the correction of a clerical error in his entry papers misdescribing the land settled upon and cultivated by bim, even against an adverse entry afterwards allowedl.(Secretary's letter of January 12, 1876, case of Jefferson Newcomb.)
8. A qualified soldier can make only one additional homestead entry, under sections 2304 and 2306 of the Revised Statutes.—(Secretary's letter of April 4, 1876, case of August Block.)
9. Contest may be instituted against the entry of a deceased homestead claimant, for abandonment, if the change of residence and aban. donment occurred witbin five years from date of entry, at any time before the title is perfected by the issuing of patent.—(Secretary's letter of April 11, 1876, case of Webber vs. Gomley.)
10. The restriction in the first section, act of June 21, 1866, applicable to the States of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, aud Florida, does not probibit an adjoining tarm entry to the extent of eighty acres. Such probibition not being express should not beinferred.(Secretary's letter of April 12, 1876, case of Hugh C. Watson.)
11. In cases of simultaneous applications for public land under the homestead law, it is held that if neither party has improvements on the land, the entry should be awarded to the highest bidder therefor; if one has actual settlement and improvements and the other has not, it should be awarded to the settler; and if both are settlers, it should be awarded to the party found, after investigation made, to be the prior settler.(Commissioner's letter to register and receiver, Camden, Ark., of April 13, 1376.)
12. The abundonment of an original homestead entry of less than one hundrel and sixty acres will not disqualify a soldier or sailor from inaking an additional entry onder section 2306 of the Revised Statutes.(Secretary's letter of May 8, 1876, case of John W. Hays.)
13. A soldier's right to make an additional boiesiead entry under section 2306 of the Revised Statutes is not assignable.-(Secretary's letter of May 17, 1876.)
14. A contract surgeon in the Army during the war was neither officer nor soldier, but a civilian, and he is not entitled to the benefits of the soldier's homestead laws.—(Secretary's letter of May 27, 1876, case of George W. Benton.)
15. Where a woman makes a bomestead entry before marriage, sbe cannot thereafter make a second entry as the widow of a soldier.- (ComLoissioner's letter to H. M. Chace, of June 12, 1876.)
16. Regular Army officers, who served during the rebellion, may initiate a homestead entry while in the army, but must establish their residence on the land within six nionths from date of entry, and on making final proof, must show one year's residence on the land at least, and residence for such additional period as with the time of their mili. tary service during the war may be necessary to complete the five years required under section 2291 of the Revised Statutes.- (Commissioner's letter of July 3, 1876, case of Major W. A. M. Dudley, arisiug in North Platte district, Nebraska.)
17. Homestead declarations filed by soldiers or sailors under sections 2304 and 2309 of the Revised Statutes, where the six months from date of filing have been allowed to pass without entry made by the parties, do not operate to prevent them from making direct entry of the laud tiled for, if no adverse claim has intervened, or of any other unappropriated land, in like manner as they might have done had no declaration been filed.-(Secretary's letter of August 8, 1876, case of Enoch J. Mathis and Nicholas Lahy; official circular of September 14, 1876.)
18. Where a party settled op land in the 16th section of a township in Colorado long prior to the survey thereof, it was held that he could Dot, by a homestead entry, prevent the tract from passing under the scbool grant, although had he been a qualified pre-emptor at the date of settlement and survey, which was not the case, bis claim would have been the better one.-(Secretary's letter of April 29, 1876, case of Andrew Bard.)
19. Where a party dies after making a homestead entry and leaves an infant cbild or infant children, the entry may be relinquished by the administrator, executor, or guardian, by order of the probate court baving jurisdiction. If the party leaves no minor child, the relinquishment may be be made by the party or parties recognized by the local court as the sole or only legal representative or representatives of the deceased, in wbich event a certificate to that effect by said court should be forwarded with the relinquishment duly executed.—(Commissioner's letter to register and receiver at Monroe, La., of October 18, 1876.)
20. In case of a homestead entry made by a guardian for the minor heirs of a deceased Union soldier, residence on the land cannot reasonably be expected, and if the land is cultivated in good faith it is a sufficient compliance with the law.-(Commissioner's letter to register and receiver at Larned, Kans., of April 9, 1877.)
21. In cases in wbich final homestead proof is made before the judge, or in his absence before the clerk of a court of record, under the act of March 3, 1877, the register and receiver of the district land office are en. titled to the same fee for examining and approving the proof so made as if the proof were taken and reduced to writing by them, for the claimants, under the tenth subdivision of section 2238 of the Revised Statutes, viz, fifteen cents per hundred words.-( Commissioner's letter, to register and receiver at Kirwin, Kans., of May 7, 1877.)
22. The act of Congress of March 3, 1877, entitled “An act for the relief of settlers on the public lands under the pre emption laws," is only for the benefit of parties who, having filed pre-emption filings for public land, changed such filings to homestead entries after the passage of the act, and by its terms cannot operate retroactively so as to benefit parties who changed their filings before its passage.-(Commisssioner's letter to register and receive at Sioux Falls, Dak., of May 21, 1877, case of Amos R. Howard.)
23. In the matter of an application to enter, under the homestead laws, certain lands in Louisiana embraced in private claims, for which no confirmation had been found, it was held to be against policy to have such lands surveyed as public lands in order to render them subject to entry, it being considered that the final disposition of the lands and the relief of parties interested therein is a proper subject for legislative action. — (Commissioner's letter to Hon. R. L. Gibson, of June 12, 1877.).
24. In the act of Congress of March 3, 1877, which provides that final proof in homestead entries may be made before the judge, or, in his ab. sence, before the clerk of any court of record of the county and State, or district and Territory, in which the lands are situated, the terms “ in his absence” refer to the absence of the judge from the county seat or place where the court for the county is held. Where the clerk takes the proof, he should set forth in his certificate to the papers that the case was such as to authorize bim to do so under the act; and for this, it will be sufficient for him to certify that the proof was made before him in the absence of the judge,” using the language of the statute.(Commissioner's letter to W. S. Search, of June 29, 1877.)
25. In a case involving the point, it was held that a party may enter, under the bomestead laws, eighty acres of double minimum land, ($2.50 per acre,) for the use of an adjoining farm of eighty acres, in like manner as if the entered tract were held at the ordinary minimum of $1.25 per acre, contrary to a former ruling which restricted the entry in such a case to forty acres of double minimum land, estimating the same as double the area in view of the price being double. (Cominis. sioner's letter to register and receiver at Topeka, Kans., of July 19, 1877, case of William Gregg.)
26. In a case in which a party through error as to his rights made a homestead entry before filing his declaration of intention to become a citizen, but afterwards did file such declaration, it was decided that the entry should be held for fipal proof to be made, and if it should then appear that the party was duly naturalized, that the final certificate might be issued in the case, in the absence of objection in any other
respect.-(Commissioner's letter to register and receive at Kirwin, Kans., August 18, 1877, case of Christian Hey.).
27. In case of soldiers and sailors claiming the right to make additional entries of public land, in person or by agent, under section 2306 of the Revised Statutes, it has been decided, in view of frauds having been perpetrated in connection with such claims, that the parties be required to submit the proof in support of their claims to this office, which sball be examined, and if found satisfactory, the fact certified under the official seal, and the proof, in connection with the certificate, returned to the parties, and that the district land officers allow no entries to be made unless the claiins are thus certified.-(Secretary's letter of March 10, 1877; printed circular of May 17, 1877, and manuscript circular of August 22, 1877.)
DECISIONS UNDER THE TIMBER CULTURE LAWS.
1. Tbe fact of there being a few trees growing on a section of public land is not sufficient to characterize the same as timber bearing, and as such to exclude it from the operations of the timber culture laws. In aby such case, the application of a party desiring to enter in the section should be forwarded by the district land officers to this office with a full showing of the facts, and on receipt thereof the case would be considered and a decision rendered as to the admissibility of the desired entry. (Commissioner's letter to W. E. Fospat of June 6, 1874.)
2. A party having entered a tract under the timber culture laws cannot alienate any portion of the same for village or cemetery purposes without vitiating his title to the entire tract.-(Commissioner's letter to 0. A. A. Gardner of July 25, 1874.)
3. Tbere is no provision in the timber culture laws for the commuting of an entry. Having made the entry for timber culture, the party can only perfect his title by breaking tbe soil, and planting and cultivating the trees, according to the provisions of the timber culture laws.-(Commissioner's letter to Adam Windolph of August 17, 1874.)
4. In a case in which there was a stream of water running through the east balf of the section, along the banks of which was a growth of " scrub" timber of an area, if in compact form, of from two to six acres, it was held tbat the land was included in the class of lands subject to timber culture entry.- (Commissioner's letter to register and receiver at Lowell, Nebraska, of October 23, 1874, case of Lampson vs. Dunham. Decision affirmed by Secretary, April 29, 1875.)
5. The breaking by the timber culture party of the first ten acres, " in strips, 7 feet wide and 12 feet from center to center," would not be considered a satisfactory compliance with the legal requirement. The entire area of ten acres must be broken the first year.-(Cominissioner's letter to S. Goozee, of February 11, 1875.)
6. Tbe same rules which govern in homestead contests will be applied in cases in which timber culture entries are contested.-(Commissioner's letter to L. R. Moyer, of March 11, 1875.)
7. In case of a decease of a party who has made a timber culture entry, his heirs or legal representatives may continue the cultivation of the trees, and conply in other respects with the timber culture laws, when they will be entitled to the patent.-(Commissioner's letter to G. W. Kniss, of September 2, 1875.)
8. There is no provision of law for the repayment of the fee and commissins paid on a timber culture entrs, but where such an entry is canceled for illegality, without any wrongful act of the party, a new