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CONGRESS

LEAVE OF ABSENCE FOR HOMESTEAD SETTLERS UPON

UNSURVEYED LANDS.

APRIL 7, 1916.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the

Union and ordered to be printed.

Mr. TAYLOR of Colorado, from the Committee on the Public Lands,

submitted the following

REPORT.

[To accompany S. 1066.)

The Committee on the Public Lands, to whom was referred the bill (S. 1066) authorizing leave of absence to homestead settlers upon unsurveyed lands having had the same under consideration, recommend that it be amended as follows:

In line 7, page 1, strike out the words "continuous leave" and strike all of line 8 and the words “not exceeding" in line 9, and insert in lieu thereof the following: "leave of absence in one or two continuous periods not exceeding in the aggregate.". As so amended the committee

recommends that the bill do pass. The bill as thus amended reads as follows: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That any qualified person who has heretofore or shall hereafter in good faith make settlement upon and improve unsurveyed unreserved unappropriated public lands of the United States with intention, upon survey, of entering game under the homestead laws shall be entitled to leave of absence in one or two continuous periods not exceeding in the aggregate five months in each year after establishment of residence: Provided, That he shall have plainly marked on the ground the exterior boundaries of the lands claimed and have filed in the local land office notice of the approximate location of the lands settled upon and claimed, of the period of intended absence, and that he shall upon the termination of the absence and his return to the land file notice thereof in the local land office.

A bil similar to this was introduced in the House by Mr. Taylor of Colorado, as H. R. 9691, and was referred by your committee to the Interior Department for report on February 1, and the Secretary of the Interior reported thereon as follows:

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

Washington, February 1, 1916. Hon. SCOTT FERRIS,

Chairman Committee on the Public Lands, House of Representatives. My Dear MR, FERRIS: I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your request for a report on H. R. 9691, to grant an absence privilege during each year to homestead settlers upon the unsurveyed public lands. The bill is identical in its provisions with S. 2316, Sixty-third Congress, as reported to the House of Representatives by your committee March 20, 1914, except that the maximum absence is now fixed at seven months instead of five.

We had recommended passage of S. 2316, and the committee's amendment was made, at the suggestion of the Department of Agriculture, in order to remove ambiguity which might have resulted to the detriment of the public interests in the national forests. I repeat here the reasons for my recommendation of the enactment, set forth in my report on S. 2316.

By section 3 of the act of May 14, 1880 (21 Stat., 140), settlers upon unsurveyed public lands are allowed a preference right to make entry for the tracts claimed by them within three months after the filing of the plats of survey; their rights relate back to the time of settlement, and they are, consequently, on submission of final proof, allowed credit for residence and cultivation had before the dates of their entries. In a general way these settlers are required to keep up a substantially continuous residence in order to maintain their preference right of entry and in order to entitle themselves to credit for compliance with the homestead laws prior to the dates of their entries. However, there is no statute law as to the extent to which they may absent themselves without forfeiting their preference rights, nor is there such a law to allow them to absent themselves without forfeiting their credit for residence.

As stated, the law expressly grants these settlers the right to initiate their homestead claims by settlement, and no good reason appears why they should not be allowed the same periods of absence from the land as are, by the three-year act of June 6, 1912 (37 Stat., 123), allowed to persons who have actually placed their entries of record.

However, no reason exists why the settlers should be accorded the privilege of longer absence than is granted persons who have made entries, and the homestead law does not allow credit for a year's residence unless there has been actual stay upon the land for at least seven months thereof. Therefore the word "seven” (relating to absences) should be changed to “five."

On the other hand, the act of August 22, 1914 (38 Stat., 704), permits the entrymen to divide the allowable absences in each year into two periods, and I see no reason why the same privilege should not be given to settlers on unsurveyed land. Therefore I recommend the enactment of the bill, provided the allowable absence be limited to five months, but that it be amended before its enactment by striking out “continuous” in line 7, all of line 8, and “period not exceeding seven” in line 9, page 1, and inserting in lieu thereof " leave of absence in one or two continuous periods not exceeding in the aggregate five.” Cordially, yours,

FRANKLIN K. LANE, Secretary. The bill was thereafter, on February 5, reported to the House by your committee, and on March 6 was passed by the House and sent to the Senate. This action was taken without knowledge of the fact that the Senate had on the 10th of January passed the present bill (S. 1066) and sent it over to the House, the bill apparently having been retained on the Speaker's desk.

The Senate bill was not referred by the Senate committee to the Interior Department during this Congress, and for that reason no mention of it was made in the report of the Secretary of the Interior and no official knowledge was had of its passage. However, a similar bill was favorably reported by the Interior Department to the Sixtythird Congress, as is stated by the Secretary.

Your committee in addition to the report of the Interior Department filed on bill H. R. 9691, Report No. 126, makes an additional statement in behalf of the measure as follows:

The report of the Secretary is very full, and it would seem that little further need be said in support of this measure. There are a large number of homestead settlers upon the unsurveyed public domain, many of whom have been living upon their lands for a great many years without being able to obtain title thereto because of the Government being unable to extend the survey to such lands. It was shown before your committee that men have been living on lands for 25 years without being able to induce the Government officials to survey their claims. These settlers have been expressly authorized by the act of Congress of May 14, 1880, which law is still in force, to settle upon unsurveyed lands and initiate a preference right thereto. But there never has been any law authorizing them to obtain any leave of absence. They can not under existing laws even obtain the five months' leave of absence that is allowed to every homestead settler every year upon surveyed lands.

Moreover, after a homestead entryman on surveyed land has resided upon his claim for three years and complied with the law in relation to cultivation, he is given permission to remove from his claim, if he so desires, or if it becomes necessary for his business, or to support or educate his family, while no such privilege has ever been granted to the settlers on unsurveyed lands at any time. Many of them will have to continue residence upon their lands, even under this proposed legislation, for probably many more years in the future, waiting the Government survey before they can obtain any leave of absence, or safely remain away from their land for any period exceeding the five months in any one year, notwithstanding they may have complied with all the requirements of the law as to residence two or three times over.

The amendment suggested by the Secretary of the Interior and adopted by your committee is in conformity with the act of August 22, 1914 (38 Stat., 704). The settler upon surveyed land knows when he can make final proof, while the settler upon unsurveyed land has no assurance as to when, if ever, he can make final proof, and there certainly is no reason now, and never has been during the past 35 years that that law has been on the statute books allowing settlement upon unsurveyed lands, for requiring any stricter rule as to continuous residence than is required of settlers upon surveyed lands.

The Senate bill having passed the Senate before the House passed the House bill, the Senate bill, under the rules, has precedence, and your committee therefore again heartily recommends the passage of this bill, S. 1066, which is, as now recommended, in the identical language of H. R. 9691 as it passed the House on March 6, 1916.

O

64TA CONGRESS, | HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. 1st Session.

TO VALIDATE TITLE TO TOWN SITE OF MOCABE, MONT.

APRIL 8, 1916.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the

Union and ordered to be printed,

Mr. Stout, from the Committee on the Public Lands, submitted the

following

REPORT.

[To accompany H. R. 600.)

The Committee on the Public Lands, to which was referred the bill (H. R. 600) validating title to the town site of McCabe, in the State, of Montana, having had same under consideration, begs leave tó report it back to the House with the following amendments:

Line 12, strike out all after the word "coal," also strike out all of lines 13 and 14.

Line 12, after the word "coal," insert a comma and the following: "Oil, or other mineral deposits in the land, and the right of the United States, its grantors or lessees, to mine and remove same.' As thus amended the committee recommend the bill do

pass. The bill was referred to the Department of the Interior, and the Secretary of that department furnished the committee with the following report thereon:

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

Washington, February 23, 1916. Hon. Scott FERRIS, Chairman Committee on Public Lands,

House of Representatives. My Dear MR. FERRIS: I am in receipt of your letter of January 25, 1916, transmitting for report H. R. 600, entitled “To validate title to the town site of McCabe, in the State of Montana,” and in response thereto I have the honor to submit the following:

The bill proposes to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to accept for surface rights only Santa Fe Pacific lieu-land selection Glasgow 015766, for the SW. I SE. sec. 4, T. 29 N., R. 56 E., Montana meridian and to issue patents thereto, which shall contain a reservation to the United States of all coal in said lands as provided in section 3, act of June 22, 1910 (36 Stat., 584).

April 27, 1911, the Santa Fe Pacific Railway Co., by John Lundquist. its attorney in fact, filed said lieu selection under the provisions of the act of June 4, 1897 (30 Stat., 36) March 10, 1915, the General Land Office held said lieu selection for cancellation for the reason that the tract was classified as coal land, and as such not subject to that

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