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TERRITORY OF EAST FLORIDA, OREGON TERRITORY, WASHINGTON TERRITORY, AND
TERRITORY OF NEW MEXICO.
August 4, 1842, in view of Indian difficulties therein, in “An act for the armed occupation and settlement of the unsettled part of the peninsula of East Florida,” Congress provided “that any person being the head of a family, or a single man over eighteen years of age," able to bear arms, who had made or should “within one year from and after the passage of this act make an actual settlement within," a certain portion of the peninsula, should be entitled to one-quarter section of land for which he should receive a permit. The whole donation was limited to 200,000 acres of land.
This was the first of the donation acts to induce settlements on the public domain in dangerous or distant portions of the nation.
By an amendatory act of the 15th of June, 1844, settlers might erect their dwellings and reside upon other than the quarter section described in their permit, provided the lands upon which they erected their habitation should be paid for; and authority was given to certain settlers to perfect their title to the quarter sections described in their permits, by paying for the same. And by an act approved July 1, 1848, all persons to whom permits were granted, and who made settlement without having voluntarily relinquished and abandoned the same, but continued to reside south of the line specified in the act of 1842, were declared entitled “to a grant and patent for the land so occupied or settled by him, the same as if all the conditions and stipulations of said acts * * * had been fully and strictly complied with.”
This act also provided for an agent to take testimony, and required him, within five months from the cominencement of his duties, to transmit all proofs and report his opinion to the Commissioner of the General Land Office for decision. Accordingly, Hugh Archer, esq., of Florida, was appointed agent on the 18th of August, 1848.
His duties commenced on the 12th of October, 1848, and terminated on the 12th of March, 1849. By a clause in the general appropriation act of June 3, 1849, the provisions of the act of July 1, 1848, were extended until the 1st of October, 1819.
There were no entries made under the act of August 4, 1842, but it was amended after 1843. This act resulted in the patenting of 1,317 claims, as follows:
Number of entries made under the armed-occupation act of August 4, 1842, with the approxi
mate acreage, and number of entries made in each land district in Florida.
OREGON DONATION ACT. The next donation act was passed for Oregon Territory September 27, 1850. The act provided for making surveys and donations of public lands in Oregon, and related to two classes of settlers. It granted to the first class of actual settlers of the public lands there, who were such prior to the 1st September, 1850, a donation of the quantity of a half section, or 320 acres, if a single man; and if married, the quantity of an entire section, or 640 acres, one half to the husband and the other to the wife in her own right; and to the second class, who were or should become settlers between the 1st December, 1850, and the 1st December, 1853, it granted the quantity of a quarter section, 160 acres, to a single man; and if married, the quantity of a half section, or 320 acres; one-half to the husband and the other to the wife, in her own right.
The first class of beneficiaries embraced white settlers or occupants, American halfbreed Indians included, above the age of eighteen years, who were citizens of the United States residing in that Territory, and those not being citizens who should make their declaration of intention to become such on or before the 1st December, 1851.
The second class embraced white male citizens of the United States above the age of twenty-one years, or persons who had made a declaration of intention to become citizens, emigrating and settling in that Territory between the 1st December, 1850. and 1st December, 1853.
The act of February 14, 1853, extended this time to December 1, 1855. Emigrants becoming married within one year after arriving in the Territory, or within one year after becoming twenty-one years of age, were entitled to the advantages accorded to married men. Residence on and cultivation of the land for four consecutive years was necessary to insure a patent from the Government. Mineral lands were excluded from being located under the act.
The act of February 14, 1853, amendatory of the said act of 1850, provided that in lieu of the term of four years' continued occupation after settlement, required by said act, claimants should be permitted, after two years' continuous residence and occupation, to pay for their lands at the rate of $1.25 per acre, and subsequent legislation still further reduced this time to one year. The act expired by limitation December 1, 1855. It resulted as follows: Number of donation certificates issued in Oregon, under the act of September 27, 1850, and supplemental legislation (9 Stats., p. 496).......
7,317 Number of acres of land covered thereby
.......... 2,563, 757, 02 WASHINGTON TERRITORY DONATION ACT. By the act of March 2, 1853, establishing the Territorial government of Washing. ington, part of the then Territory of Oregon was detached and constituted the Territory of Washington, and by the sixth section of the act of July 17, 1854, all the provisions of the donation law were extended to the latter Territory. The act expired December 1, 1855. The following statement shows the entries under the same: Number of donation certificates in Washington Territory, under act of
March 2, 1853, and supplemental legislation (10 Stats., p. 172) ......... 985 Number of acres of land covered thereby .....
.......... 290, 215, 35 The year when the donees entered their respective claims, under the various acts of Congress, in Oregon and Washington Territory cannot be determined in the General Land Office, as some of the notifications are dated and some are not. These entries should all have been made as directed by the sixth section of said act of September 27, 1850, amended by the third section of the act of July 17, 1854 (10 Stats., p. 305). Those who failed to file their notifications as required by law, were relieved by the act of June 25, 1864 (13 Stats., p. 184).
NEW MEXICO TERRITORY DONATION ACT. Congress, July 22, 1854, in the “act to establish the offices of surveyors-general of New Mexico, Kansas, and Nebraska," provided in the second section for a grant of 160
acres of land to every white male citizen of the United States, or who had declared his intention to become such, above the age of twenty-one years, who was residing in the Territory of New Mexico prior to January 1, 1853, and at the date of the passage of the act of July 22, 1854. The same grant was made to the same classes of persons who removed or should remove to said Territory between January 1, 1853, and January 1, 1858. The applications were filed with the surveyor general, and afterward in the district land office. Actual settlement and cultivation for four years were made conditions of this grant, except where the grantee desire to pay cash, at $1.25 per acre, which was permitted under the seventh section of the act. This law is still in force.
The following table shows entries by the year under this act:
New Mexico donations, under the act of July 22, 1854 (10 Stat., 308) reported to the General
Land Office up to June 30, 1880.
TOWN-SITE AND COUNTY-SEAT ACTS.
Under the town-site acts there have been located on the public domain 420 towns, with an acreage of 144,131.23 acres.
Under the county-seat act eight counties have secured a total of 886.68 acres.
The benefit of the town-lot act has been taken by six towns, and a total of 619 blocks located thereunder, or 3,840 acres.
Under the law authorizing the President to reserve town sites, but one town has been reserved—the town of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., containing 59 acres-was confirmed by the act of September 26, 1850. Under all acts, 148,916.91 acres.
TOWN SITES—THE FIRST ACTS. The acts of Congress of June 13, 1812, and May 26, 1824, and subsequent laws, confirmed to the inhabitants of certain towns and villages in the Territory of Missouri, their holdings, which they had inhabited, cultivated, or possessed prior to December 20, 1803. This rule as established was uniformly followed in the approval of town holdings in the portions of the Nation wbich were acquired by purchase or annexations
The laws of the United States providing for the reservation and sale of town sites on the public lands are found in Title 32, Chapter VIII, of the Revised Statutes of the United States, sections 2380 to 2390, inclusive.
These laws are very liberal in their provisions, and contemplate not only the entry of land already settled upon for purposes of trade, for the benefit of the citizens of the town, but provide for the selection and reservation of land, whether surveyed or unsurveyed, for town sites “on the shores of harbors, at the junction of rivers, important portages, or natural or prospective centers of population," in advance of the settlement thereof, or of the surrounding country.
In the pre-emption law of 1841 (sec. 10, 5 Stats., p. 455, and sec. 2258 R. S.), the following classes of lands were reserved from pre-emption settlement and entry, viz: 1st. “ Lands included within the limits of any incorporated town, or selected, as the site of a city or town”; and 2d. “Lands actually settled and occupied for purposes of trade and business, and not for agriculture.”
The same provisions apply to lands subject to entry under the homestead law. (Act May 20, 1862, 12 Stats., p. 392; sec. 2289 R. S.)
The same reservation is made in direct terms, or by implication, in nearly all the acts of Congress providing for the various classes of scrip. (See cases of Seattle town site; the City of Chicagovs. Valentine; Superior City vs. Scrip, Secretary's decision, June 23, 1862.)
The objects and benefits to arise from this reservation from settlement and entry on lands within the corporate limits of a town are, to a great extent, set forth in the decision of Mr. Justice Miller, in Root vs. Shields. (1 Woolworth, C. C. Reports, 342.)
The act of March 3, 1877, entitled “An act respecting the limits of reservations for town sites upon the public domain", (19 Stats., p. 392), was passed to remedy the evil, in certain cases, of the incorporation by the State or Territorial legislature of a town with limits covering larger areas than the maximum quantity of 2,560 acres.