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CIRCULAR

IN REFERENCE TO

THE MANNER OF ACQUIRING TITLE TO THE PUBLIC LANDS.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

GENERAL LAND OFFICE,

Washington, D. O., October 30, 1895. The public lands of the United States are included within the States of Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, the Territories of Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Utah, and the District of Alaska.

In Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois only a few isolated tracts of public land remain.

In these States and Territories, with the exception of the three last mentioned, there are land districts with defined boundaries, in each of which a land office is established by law, where a register and receiver are in attendance, for the sale or other disposal of the public lands embraced therein. For appointments, term, compensation, and general duties of these registers and receivers, see sections 2234 to 2247 of the Revised Statutes of the United States. (Appendix No. 1, pp. 126-128.)

A land office, with an ex officio register and receiver, is also established for the District of Alaska, under the act of Congress of May 17, 1884 (23 Stat. L., 24; Appendix No. 26, p.164), which provides for the disposal of the minerals therein; and sections 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 of the act of Congress approved March 3, 1891 (26 Stat. L., 1095; Appendix No. 45, p. 203), admit of entries therein for town-site purposes and of lands used and occupied for the purposes of trade and business, but the agricultural lands in that district are not subject to survey or disposal under the general land laws.

Any proper information regarding vacant public lands may be obtained by application at any of these land offices, a list of which will be found on page 233.

PURCHASE AT PUBLIC SALE AND PRIVATE ENTRY,

The sale of lands at public auction was, prior to March 3, 1891, provided for by law (Rev. Stat., secs. 2353, 2357, 2358, 2359, 2360, and 2455; Appendix No. 1, pp. 140, 143), but such sales were prohibited by sections

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9 and 10 of the act of that date (26 Stat. L., 1095; Appendix No. 45, p. 207), save under the exceptions noted in said sections, which read as follows:

SEC. 9. That hereafter no public lands of the United States, except abandoned military or other reservations, isolated and disconnected fractional tracts authorized to be sold by section twenty-four hundred and fifty-five of the Revised Statutes, and mineral and other lands, the sale of which at public auction has been authorized by acts of Congress of a special nature having local application, shall be sold at public sale.

SEC. 10. That nothing in this act shall change, repeal, or modify any agreements or treaties made with any Indian tribes for the disposal of their lands, or of land ceded to the United States to be disposed of for the benefit of such tribes, and the proceeds thereof to be placed in the Treasury of the United States; and the disposition of such lands shall continue in accordance with the provisions of such treaties or agreements, except as provided in section five of this act.

The first section of the act of Congress of March 2, 1889 (25 Stat. L., 854; Appendix No. 33, p. 170) provides that from and after its passage “no public lands of the United States, except those in the State of Missouri, shall be subject to private entry.” This relates to the private sale or entry of "offered" lands under sections 2354 and 2357, United States Revised Statutes. No sale or location at private entry will be admissible under said first section, except in Missouri, but disposals of this class of "offered ” lands under existing laws are not otherwise affected thereby.

These provisions of said acts of 1889 and 1891, while forbidding the disposal at public auction or private sale of the mass of public lands under the general statutes that formerly provided therefor, do not necessarily prevent the disposal of lands under any act of Congress of a special nature having local application, in such manner as therein provided for, in reference to any specific lands or class of lands, although this may include the disposal thereof at public auction or private sale, as, for example, coal lands at private entry under section 2347, Revised Statutes, circular July 31, 1882, 1 L. D., 687; Osage trust and diminished reserve lands at private entry, last sentence, section 3, act of May 28, 1880, 21 Stat. L., 143; salt spring reserve lands, act of January 12, 1877, 19 Stat. L., 221.

MINIMUM AND DOUBLE MINIMUM LANDS.

No land shall be sold, either at public or private sale, for less than $1.25 per acre, which is therefore called the "minimum price,” and lands held for sale at that price are called "minimum lands.” (Rev. Stat., 2357; Appendix No. 1, p. 140.)

The double minimum price established by law is $2.50 per acre, and lands held for sale at that price are called double minimum lands.

Alternate reserved sections within the limits of railroad grants are double minimum in price (sec. 2357, Rev. Stat.), except such as were put in market at the enhanced price prior to January 1, 1861, and were sub. ject to entry June 15, 1880, all of which were reduced in price to $1.25 per acre by the third section of the act of Congress of June 15, 1880 (21 Stat. L., 237; Appendix No. 20, p. 160), and except those opposite those portions of railroads not completed on March 2, 1889, which were reduced in price by section 4 of the act of that date (25 Stat. L., 854; Appendix No. 33, p. 170), or where a different price is provided for in statutes for the disposal of lands under special conditions. Lands reduced in price under act of June 15, 1880, are not, however, subject to private entry at the reduced price until again offered at public sale (Eldred v. Sexton, 19 Wall., 189).

PUBLIC SALE OF ISOLATED TRACTS.

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Any party desiring the sale of an isolated tract under the provisions of section 2455, Revised Statutes, as amended by the act of February 26, 1895 (28 Stat. L., 687; Appendix No. 64, p. 221), will be required to file in the district land office having jurisdiction over the tract an affidavit made by himself and duly corroborated by two witnesses, setting forth the character of the land; stating whether it is covered with timber or contains stone or any mineral, whether it is agricultural in character, for what purpose the land would be chiefly valuable, and why he desires the same ordered into market. It must also be shown that the tract is unoccupied by anyone having color of title thereto.

No lands are subject to be ordered into market as aforesaid until the same shall have been subject to homestead entry for a period of three years after the surrounding lands have been entered, filed upon, or sold by the Government.

Care must be taken by the district land officers in reporting any such application for the Commissioner's favorable action thereon that their plats and other records do not show the existence of any objection to the offering of such lands under said law. When instructions are received from the General Land Office ordering such tract or tracts to be exposed at public sale, they will cause a notice to be published once a week for the space of thirty days in a newspaper of general circulation in the vicinity of the land, using the form given on page 265.

The day of sale must be fixed so as to take place at least thirty days after the date of the first publication of the notice. The register will also make proper posting of notice. The sale must close immediately after offering the lands thus advertised; but should any of the lands thus offered not be purchased at the public sale, they will not subsequently be regarded as subject to ordinary private entry unless located within the State of Missouri, in view of the provisions of the first section of the act of March 2, 1889. (25 Stat. L., 854, Appendix No. 33,

The party desiring such offering to be made must first make a deposit of sufficient money to pay the cost of publishing the notice, and all other expenses of the sale, the deposit to be made with the receiver, who will notify the register thereof, that he may cause the notice to be published, but applicants are not to be deprived of the right to make their own contracts for the publication of notice, following rule 5, page 77, of this circular in reference to final proof notices.

Such action will, however, give the applicant no preference right over others desiring to purchase the land, as the same must be offered at public sale, and in case of competition must be disposed of to the highest bidder.

A nonmineral affidavit (Form 4–062) must be furnished by the purcbaser. It will be observed that no more than 160 acres shall be sold to any one person at the offering under said section 2455, but this amount is not limited by the provisions of the acts of August 30, 1890, and March 3, 1891 (Charles H. Boyle, 20 L, D., 255).

Immediately after each sale the district officers will transmit to the General Land Office a joint report showing the lands offered, indicating the sales, the numbers of the certificates, date of sale, and names of the purchasers.

They will issue the cash papers the same as in ordinary cash entries, and report them in their current monthly returns, forwarding with said entries the affidavit of the publisher, showing the thirty days publication, together with the register's certificate of posting.

p. 170.)

MODE OF PROCEEDING IN MAKING CASII PURCHASES. *

A person desiring to purchase a portion of the public land for cash must present a written application to the register for the district in which the land described is situated, describing the tract and giving its area (see Form 4-001, p. 234). If the tract is vacant and subject to the entry applied for, the register will so certify to the receiver, stating the price, and the applicant must pay to the latter the amount of the purchase money. Thereupon the receiver will issue his receipt in duplicate to the purchaser for the money paid (Form 4-131, p. 234). The register will then issue his certificate of purchase (Form 4–189,

At the close of the month the register and receiver will make returns of the sale to the General Land Office, from which, when the proceed. ings are found regular, a patent will be issued.

p. 234).

CASII PURCHASE BY TIMBER TRESPASSERS.

In addition to the foregoing in reference to purchase at public offering and purchase or location at ordinary private entry, it is to be noted that the first section of the act of Congress of June 15, 1880 (21 Stat. L., 237; Appendix No. 20, p. 160), having reference to cases of timber trespasses upon the public lands committed prior to March 1, 1879, has been held to extend to such trespassers the privilege of paying for the land upon which the offenses were so committed, at the price per acre for which under the law in force at date of payment the lands could be sold. This privilege of purchase was held not to be confined to lands subject to private entry, but to extend to any lands, not mineral, subject to disposal under general existing laws.

But it is now held that the fact of trespass does not, under said act, give the trespasser the rigit to purchase lands otherwise excluded from sale. (Woodstock Iron Company, 6 L. D., 738.)

The provisions referred to apply only to tracts trespassed upon prior to March 1, 1879, and it is thought that few, if any, tracts remain undisposed of to which they would be applicable. From this fact and the operation of the act of March 2, 1889, withdrawing public lands generally from private entry, these provisions from the statute may be considered as no longer operative, unless in the adjustment of claims heretofore initiated.

LIMITATIONS ON PURCHASES BY ALIENS AND CORPORATIONS.

The act of March 3, 1887, “ to restrict the ownership of real estate in the Territories to American citizens, and so forth” (24 Stat. L., 476; Appendix No. 30, p. 166), prohibits acquisition, holding, or owning of real estate in any of the Territories or the District of Columbia (except such as may be acquired by inheritance or in good faith in the ordinary course of justice in the collection of debts theretofore created) by any person not a citizen of the United States, or who has not lawfully declared his intention of becoming such, or by any corporation not created under the laws of the United States or some State or Territory thereof, except where some existing treaty secures such right to the citizens or subjects of foreign countries, and then only during the continuance of such treaty.

Applicable in the State of Missouri only.

No corporation or association of which more than 20 per cent of the stock is owned by a person, corporation, or association not a citizen of the United States can acquire, hold, or own any real estate acquired in any of the Territories or the District of Columbia after the 3d day of March, 1887.

No corporation except those organized for the construction or operation of railways, canals, or turnpikes can acquire, hold, or own more than 5,000 acres of land in any Territory; and no railroad, canal, or turnpike corporation can acquire, hold, or own lands in any Territory, other than necessary for the proper operation of its railway, canal, or turnpike, except such as may have been granted by act of Congress.

WARRANT LOCATIONS.

Military bounty-land warrants may be located upon any vacant public lands of the United States that are subject to sale at private entry, and they may be used in payment of preemption claims or in commutation of homestead entries, even when the same embrace unoffered lands. But the only lands now subject to private entry under general statutes are in the State of Missouri. (See first section act of March 2, 1889,25 Stat. L., 854.)

A warrant issued to several parties or assigned to three or more persons (sec. 2414, Rev. Stat.; Appendix No.1, p. 142) can not be located if assigned by one of the owners to another or to other persons, so as to invest any one of the parties with a greater interest than any other: In other words, each owner of a warrant, at the time of its location, must have an equal share or interest therein.

A warrant may be located either at a district land office or through the agency of this office (sec. 2437, Rev. Stat.; Appendix No.1, p. 142). If located at a district office, it must be accompanied by a tender of the fees to which the register and receiver are entitled and by a written application to locate, containing a description of the tracts desired, and signed by the locator or his attorney in fact. If by the latter, his authority to act must be evidenced by a power of attorney, which must be prepared in accordance with the prescribed form and indorsed, if practicable, upon the warrant.

If the location is made through this office, the warrant must be sent to the Commissioner with a request that the same be located in a specified land district, and accompanied by a receipt from the register and receiver for the fees to which they may be severally entitled under section 2238, Revised Statutes.

Each warrant is required to be distinctly and separately located upon a compact body of land; and if the area of the tract claimed should exceed the number of acres called for in the warrant the locator must pay for the excess in cash; but if it should fall short, he must take the tract in full satisfaction for his warrant. A person can not enter a body of land with a number of warrants without specifying the particular tract or tracts to which each shall be applied; and for each warrant there must be a distinct location certificate and patent. (Sec. 2415, Rev. Stat.; Appendix No. 1, p. 112.)

Where the desired tract is subject to entry at a greater minimum than $1.25 per acre, the locator, in addition to the surrendered warrant, must pay in cash the difference between the value of such warrant at $1.25 per acre and that of the said land, or present a warrant of such denomination as will, at its legal value of $1.25 per acre, cover the rated price of the tract, and pay the excess in value of the land, if any, in

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