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set forth therein, which fact must also be carefully inquired into from our own records; that the claim is correctly surveyed, and, generally, that the papers are in all respects correct; then, if the examination results satisfactorily, the patent is issued ; while, on the other hand, if the papers are not found, the party is so advised, and that such papers must be filed before action is taken here.
The foregoing statement has reference merely to such cases as are pending upon applications for patents.
The claims, aggregating many thousands in the above-mentioned States, which have been reported by the various boards of commissioners and confirmed by Congress from time to time, might be properly termed cases in this office for action, although in numerous cases the papers constituting the bases of patents are not on file here.
The reports are here, however, and as this office is repeatedly called upon to furnish information upon questions of title, they furnish ample facilities for that purpose.
I give decisions as follows having reference to private land claims:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, GENERAL LAND OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., December 14, 1876. Sir: I have examined the application of Hosmer & Company, of this city, for certificates of location under the act of June 2, 1858, in satisfaction of the confirmed private land claim of Pierre Joseph Mais, numbered A 1650 in the report of Gerrard, Wailes and Fitz, of December, 1811 (American State Papers, D, Greene's Edition, Vol. 2, p. 711), submitted with your letter of the 15th of September, 1875, inclosing seventeen certificates of location, issued by you on the 31st of August, 1875, under the above act, in satisfaction of said claim No. 299 A to 299 Q inclusive.
The claim in question is founded on a Spanish patent, and was presented to the board of land commissioners for the western district of Louisiana, appointed and acting under the act of Congress approved on the 2d day of March, 1807, entitled “An act for ascertaining and adjusting the titles and claims to land within the Territory of Orleans and the district of Louisiana" by Pierre Joseph Maes, and was confirmed by them for 1,354.04 acres December 11, 1811, by virtue of authority vested in them by the fourth section, the act of Congress passed on the 3d day of March, 1807, entitled “An act respecting claims in the Territories of Orleans and Louisiana."
It appears by an old diagram filed with the papers in the case, that the claim was surveyed by Daniel Coleman, assistant for Samuel Cook, deputy surveyor, under instructions from the surveyor of the lands of the United States sonth of Tennessee, and in conformity with the request of the confirmee; which survey appears to have included claim B 1657 of the said Mais, embraced in the same report, and lying on the east side of bayou Kashata, and claim Á 1650 lying on the west side of said bayon; which survey of claim A 1650 would appear to embrace sections and parts of sections 25, 26, 27, 34, 35, and 36 in township 7 north, of range 8 west, Louisiana; but the survey was never approved or represented upon the official plats. The greater portion of the land supposed to be embraced in said claim has been disposed of by the United States. The act of Congress of June 2, 1858, under which the legal representatives of Mais claim certificate of location, provided for the issue of such certificates only in cases of confirmation by that act (see third section) “or where any private land claim has been confirmed by Congress, and the same, in whole or in part, has not been located or satisfied either for a want of a specific location prior to such confirmation, or for any reason whatsoever, other than a discovery of fraud in such claim subsequent to such confirmation.
The claim in question having been confirmed by the board of commissioners as aforesaid, cannot properly be said to come within the provisions of the act of 1858, which limits the issue of certificates of locations to claims which have been confirmed by Congress."
The language is plain and unambiguous, and it is a settled principle in law, that in the construction of statutes, “words in a statute are never to be construed as unmeaning and surplusage if a construction can be legitimately found which will give force to and preserve all the words in the act.” (Dwarris on Stats. 180.)
The certificates of location, 299 A to 299 Q, in the name of Pierre Joseph Maes, issued by you August 13, 1875, in satisfaction of his private land claim No. 1650, in the report aforesaid, are therefore held for cancellation, subject to an appeal to the honorable Secretary of the Interior, within sixty days from receipt of notice, should the parties interested so desire, and you will so notify them.
If an appeal should be filed, you will transmit the same, together with such papers as may be submitted therewith, to this office, but if no appeal be filed at the expiration of sixty days from receipt of notice by the parties in interest, you will so notify this office, when the certificates referred to will be finally canceled and you notified accordingly. Very respectfully,
J. A. WILLIAMSON,
Commissioner. UNITED STATES SURVEYORGENERAL,
New Crleans, La.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,
Washington, D. C., April 24, 1878. SIR: I have considered the questions arising upon the application for the issue of certificates of location under the act of June 2, 1858, in satisfaction of the alleged confirmed private land claim of Pierre Joseph Mais, in Louisiana, on appeal from your decision of December 14, 1876.
The application is based upon the provision contained in the third section of the act of June 2, 1858, which reads as follows:
“That in all cases of confirmation by this act, or where any private land claim has been confirmed by Congress, and the same, in whole or in part, has not been located or satisfied, either for want of a specific location prior to such confirmation, or for any reason whatsoever, other than a discovery of fraud in such claim subsequent to such confirmation, it shall be the duty of the surveyor general of the district in which such claim was situated, upon satisfactory proof that such claim has been so confirmed, and that the same, in whole or in part, remains unsatisfied, to issue to the claimant, or his legal representatives, a certificate of location for a quantity of land equal to that so confirmed and unsatisfied."
The claim of Mais was founded upon a complete French patent, and was presented to the board of land cominissioners for the western district of Louisiana, acting under the provisions of an act of Congress, approved March 2, 1805, and was recognized and reported by the board. This action, however, was not necessary to protect the claim if the same was based upon a complete and perfect title, for in that case it did not require a confirmation by the Government of the United States.
The decision of the board in favor of the claimant became final, as against the United States, under the provisions of the act of March 3, 1807, and Congress has never taken action directly in the case. The action of Congress providing that the decision of the board of commissioners should be final, was not a confirmation of the claim by that body, as that term is used in the act of June 2, 1858. The terms of the latter statute make it necessary that a claim, to be recognized as confirmed, must have been one which required favorable action on the part of Congress, in order to fix its status.
Under the act of April 18, 1814, a patent, no doubt, might have issued for the claim, but as it did not, and as it cannot be recognized as one confirmed by Congress, this department, in the absence of further remedial legislation, is unable to afford relief to the applicant.
Your decision is, therefore, affirmed, and the papers transmitted with your letter of May 9, 1877, are herewith returned. Very respectfully,
Acting Secretary. The COMMISSIONER GENERAL LAND OFFICE.
DAVID C. HARDEE.
Under the certificate of location, act of March 3, 1819, it is necessary for the claimant to establish the
fact of settlement and cultivation of the claimed land prior to April 15, 1813, in order to secure the benefits of the act, and the local officers were empowered to require the production of satisfactory
evidence upon this point. The Commissioner of the General Land Office has the power to supervise, approve, or reverse the action
of the local officers in issuing certificates to claimants under this act. The act of June 2, 1858, was for the relief of those land claimants whose claims had been confirmed by
Congress, and the third section of the act of March 3, 1819, expressly excepted from confirmation all settlement claims in conflict with prior confirmed grants. It is the duty of claimants to clearly show that a claim has been confirmed before scrip can issue.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,
Washington, D. C., April 8, 1878. SIR: I have considered the case of David C. Hardee v8. The United States, on appeal from your decision of April 9, 1877, approving the action of the surveyor general of Louisiana refusing to issue certificates of location to said Hardee as the legal representative of William Hatchell.
The application was made under the provision of the third section of the act of Congress approved June 2, 1858 (11 Stat., p. 294), as follows: “That in all cases of confirmation by this act, or where any private land claim has been confirmed by Congress, and the same in whole or in part has not been located or satisfied, either for want of a specific location prior to such confirmation, or for any reason whatsoever other than a discovery of fraud in such claim subsequent to such confirmation, it shall be the duty of the surveyor general of the district in which such claim was situated, upon satisfactory proof that such claim has been so confirmed, and that the same, in whole or in part, remains unsatisfied, to issue to the claimant or his legal representatives a certificate of location for a quantity of land equal to that so confirmed and unsatisfied.”
The first section of the act of Congress approved April 25, 1812 (2 Stat., 713), entitled “An act for ascertaining the titles and claims to lands in that part of the Louisiana which lies east of the river Mississippi and island of New Orleans," provided for the appointment of a commissioner for land claims situated in the tract of country south of the Mississippi Territory, east of the Mississippi River, and west of Pearl River. It also provided for a commissioner for the tract between the Pearl and Perdido Rivers. The eighth section of the act provided, “That the said.commissioners be, and they are hereby, authorized and required to collect, and report to Congress at their next session, a list of all the actual settlers on land in said districts, respectively, who have no claims to land derived either from the French, British, or Spanish Gov. ernments, and the time at which such settlements were made."
James 0. Cosby was appointed commissioner for the tract of land between the Mississippi and Pearl Rivers.
The records show that William Hatchell appeared before Commissioner Cosby and presented his claim for a tract of land, alleging settlement in the year 1810. His name was included in the list of actual settlers reported to Congress by the said commissioner June 7, 1813. (Am. State Papers, Public Lands, vol. 3, p. 64, Green's ed.)
The third section of the act of Congress approved March 3, 1819, entitled "An act for adjusting the claims to land, and establishing land offices in the districts east of the island of New Orleans" (3 Stat., p. 528), is as follows:
“And be it further enacted, That every person, or his or her legal representative, whose claim is comprised in the lists or register of claims reported by the said commissioners, and the persons embraced in the list of actual settlers or their legal representatives, not having any written eyidence of claim reported as aforesaid, shall, where it appears by the said reports or by the said lists that the land claimed or settled on had been actually inhabited or cultivated by such person or persons in whose right he claims, on or before the fifteenth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and thirteen, be entitled to a grant for the land so claimed, or settled on, as a donation : Prorided, That not more than one tract shall be thus granted to any one person, and the same shall not contain more than six hundred and forty acres, and that no lands shall be thus granted which are claimed or recognized by the preceding sections of this act."
The twelfth section of the act is as follows:
“And be it further enacted, That the books of the former commissioners in which the claims and evidence of claims are recorded shall be lodged with the registers of the land office for the respective districts; and the register and receiver of public money's in each respective district shall have power to examine the claims recognized, coufirmed, or provided to be granted by the provisions of this act, as also claims to the right of pre-emption, and they shall make out to each claimant entitled in their opinion thereto a certificate according to the nature of the case, under such instructions as they may receive from the Commissioner of the General Land Office, and on presentation at the General Land Office of such certificate for a confirmed claim, or for a donation according to the provisions of this act, and where it shall appear to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of the General Land Office that the certificate has been fairly obtained, according to the true intent and meaning of this act, then and in that case a patent shall be granted, in like manner as for other lands of the United States."
On the 20th of March, 1819, the Commissioner of the General Land Office addressed the register at Saint Helena, La., as follows: “I also inclose a copy of the act of Congress (of 3d instant) under which you are appointed and which defines your duties. * * * Section 3 confirms to certain persons 610 acres each, and grants a donation of 640 acres to such persons in said lists as the commissioners reported as actual settlers on April 15, 1813. Certificates of donation and patents (from this office) will issue for the claims confirmed by this section. The twelfth section also authorizes the register and receiver to examine the claims in said reports and grant certificates according to the nature of the cases."
On the 221 of the same month the Commissioner addressed the register at Jackson Court-Hlouse, La., as follows: “Section 3 confirms to certain persons 640 acres each. This section blends lists or registers of claims with lists of actual settlers, and grants a donation of 640 acres to such persons in said lists as the commissioners reported as actual settlers on the 15th of April, 1813." This statement is explained by an examination of the list reported by Commissioner Cosby, in which appear the names of many
persons with the date of their alleged settlement; also the names of persons without an accompanying date of settlement.
It would seem from the letters above quoted that the Commissioner of the General Land Office at that date, and upon the first consideration of the act, construed the same as confirming to each person reported by Commissioner Cosby as a settler on the 15th of April, 1813, 640 acres of land.
Under date of November 15, 1819, the Commissioner of the General Land Office addressed the register at Jackson Court-House as follows (referring to the act of March 3, 1819): “ The true idea of an actual settler I take to be one who inhabits and cultivates a tract of public land. The second section has the words have been cultivated and inhabited,' the third section has the words have been actually inhabited or cultivated,' preceded by the words claimed or settled on,' which clearly convey the idea of residence and cultivation. In those cases it is expected you will class separately those in which the evidence is satisfactory from those where the evidence does not, in your opinion, establish the settlement and cultivation. Your powers are sufficient to enable you to procure such testimony as may be required to prove whether the person claiming a right by actual settlement is entitled to the benefit of the act. The objects of the act are to give proof of the good faith of the government relative to the Spanish and British claims, and to secure the United States from imposition by fraud and speculation."
From these instructions it is evident that the Land Department upon further consideration of the act of March 3, 1819, held that it was necessary for the claimant to establish the fact of settlement and cultivation prior to April 15, 1813, in order to entitle him to the benefits of the provisions of the same, and that under the provisions of the twelfth section of the act the local officers were empowered and authorized to require the production of satisfactory evidence upon this point before issuing a certificate upon which patent could be obtained. In other words, neither the act of March 3, 1819, or the instructions issued thereunder by the Land Department can be correctly interpreted as recognizing in each and every person reported by Commissioner Cosby as a settler prior to April 15, 1813, an absolute right to 640 acres of land. A right to such a tract was based and depended upon the fact of his being an actual settler prior to that date. The report made by Commissioner Cosby was not conclusive evidence that he was such an actual settler. Had Congress entertained a different view on this point, it is not reasonable to presume that it would have incorporated into the act of March 3, 1819, the provisions contained in the twelfth section authorizing the local officers to examine the claims confirmed, recognized, or provided to be granted. Settlement claims are evidently those designated as claims, provided to be granted”; this is made clear by the language of the third section of the act, that every person, &c., “be entitled to a grant for the land so claimed.”
The act of May 8, 1822 (3 Stat., p. 707), gave to the register and receiver the power of directing the location and manner of surveying the claims recognized in the act of 1819. In the very elaborate letter of instructions in relation to the claims under the act of March 3, 1819, issued to the local officers at Saint Helena by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, August 13, 1823, it is stated: “The third section confirms the claims of all the actuel settlers previous to the 15th of April, 1813, to a tract of land not exceeding 640 acres, as a donation. These claims must be so surveyed as to inelude the improvements, and not to interfere with any claims confirmed by the two first sections of the act. * * * The twelfth section gives the power to the register and receiver to examine the claims recognized, confirmed, or provided to be granted by the provisions of the act, and claims to the right of pre-emption, and to grant certificates to those claimants who, in their opinion, are entitled to them. This clause gives to the register and receiver a supervisory power over all the claims reported by the commissioner and confirmed by the act, so far at least as to withhold their certificate in all cases where there is suspicion of fraud, or where there is good reason to believe that the original report has been founded on an improper view of the claim."
This is another interpretation, by the Land Department, of the provisions of the act of March 3, 1819, and is perfectly consistent with that established a few years before, as above cited. The local officers were required to examine and pass upon the suffiriency of the proof of actual settlement on the part of each claimant.
By the twelfth section of the said act, the register and receiver were instructed to inake out to each claimant entitled, in their opinion, thereto, a certificate according to the nature of the case, under such instructions as they may receive from the Commissioner of the General Land Office. It follows that, unless the certificate issued to David Hardee, the legal representative of William Hatchell, by the register and receiver at New Orleans, June 20, 1872, was issued on a confirmed claim, in accordance with the law and the instructions thereunder, as above recited, it cannot be recognized as valid by the Land Department.
In my opinion, there can be no doubt as to your power to surpervise, approve, or reverse the action of the local officers in issuing certificates to claimants under the act of 1819. The language of the twelfth section of the act on this subject is as follows: “ And where it shall appear to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of the General Land Office that the certificate has been fairly obtained, according to the true intent and meaning of the act, then and in that case a patent shall be granted," &c. Such has been the practice of the administration of the land laws, and it is recognized and enforced by the provisions of the first section of the act of July 4, 1836, reorganizing the General Land Office.
Under date of June 20, 1872, the register and receiver at New Orleans issued the following certificate: “In pursuance of an act of Congress approved on the 3d March, 1819, entitled 'An act for adjusting the claims to land and establishing land offices in the districts east of the island of New Orleans,' we certify that William Hatchell, his heirs or legal representatives, are entitled to a section of land of 640 acres in the parish of Feliciana, and so reported by James 0. Cosby in his report of actual settlers, dated 7th June, 1813, No. 213. (See American State Papers, vol. iii, page 64, Duff Green's edition.) From an examination of the original papers of the said claim, it appears that the confirmee claims under a settlement made by himself in the year 1810, and described as follows." No description of the tract, however, is given.
The question, therefore, arises whether this certificate was properly issued. This question can only be answered by ascertaining: 1st. Whether William Hatchell was an actual settler upon a particular tract of land prior to April 15, 1813, as defined by the law and the instructions of the land department. 2d. If so, whether the land upon which it is alleged that the settlement was made was within the limits of a claim confirmed by the first and second sections of the act of March 3, 1819.
These are questions of fact. The local officers state that “ from an examination of the original papers of said claim it appears that the confirmee claims under a settlement made by himself in the year 1810.”
The original papers on file in the case are the petition and evidence of William Hatchell, in the following form: “To the commissioners of the land claims west of Pearl River and east of the Mississippi,
north of the island of New Orleans : “The undersigned claims a tract or parcel of land by virtue of settlement made on the first of April, one thousand eight hundred and ten, which ever since and at this present has been kept in cultivation, about sixteen miles south of the line of demarkation on the waters of Sandy Creek, as witness whereof I set my name this 7th day of May, 1813.
“ WILLIAM HATCHELL. “SAMUEL LEE. “JAMES Brown, Sr.”
18. WILLIAM BROWN.
William Hatchell, a witness on the part of Redden, being sworn, saith: “ I settled in the year 1810. I was at Mr. Liles' before I settled, and I asked Mr. Liles if he, Liles, knew of any vacant place where I could settle. He said he did. I asked him where it was. He said it lay above him on the creek, and was evacuated and vacant by the Spanish laws; it was the claim of William Liles alluded to. I told him there might be a dispute, and I would not settle on it, but Liles said it was vacant land."
Cross-examined by BROWN: “I was not in the country when the place was settled.”'
By REDDEN: “ The place was grown over in briars and bushes. Mr. Liles had cultivated the place, as he stated to me, because he had not enough at home.
his “WILLIAM + HATCHELL.
mark. “WILLIAM RENCHER, R.”
There is also on file the petition of William Hatchell for a survey of the tract claimed by him, as follows: "To the register and receiver of the land claims at Saint Helena :
"Your petitioner respectfully shows that he has obtained a certificate from Charles S. Carsbey for a claim of land situated in the parish of East Feliciana ; your petitioner therefore pray that you grant an order of survey, as follows, to wit: Beginning on a sectional line one quarter of a mile post that stands between himself and William Kerbey; thence running north on said line until it joins land of Parson Carter; thence