« PreviousContinue »
taining the exact quantity expressed in such return or returns; and the half sections and quarter sections, the contents whereof shall not have been thus returned, shall be held and considered as containing the onehalf or the one-fourth part respectively of the returned contents of the section of which they make part."
By "An act providing for the division of certain quarter sections in future sales of the public lands," approved February 22d, 1817, it is provided that from and after the first day of September of that year, “in every case of the division of a quarter section" (of the sections designated by numbers 2, 5, 20, 30, and 33), “the partitions shall be made by a line running due north and south." In all other respects the same laws to prevail as in the case of other public lands.
"An act making further provision for the sale of the public lands," approved April 24th, 1820, provides that from and after the first day of July following, "in every case of the division of a quarter section, the ·line for the division thereof shall run north and south, and the corners and contents of half quarter sections which may thereafter be sold, shall be ascertained in the manner and on the principles directed and prescribed by the second section of the act of February 11th, 1805."
"An act supplemental to the several laws for the sale of the public lands," approved April 5th, 1832, provides that from and after the first day of May following, "in every case of a division of a half quarter section" (in all the public lands of the United States) "the line for the division thereof shall run east and west, and the corners and contents of quarter-quarter sections, which may thereafter be sold, shall be ascertained, as nearly as may be, in the manner and on the principles directed and prescribed by the 2d section of the act of February 11th, 1805; and fractional sections containing fewer, or more than 160 acres, shall in like manner, as nearly as may be practicable, be subdivided into quarter-quarter sections, under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury."
The act of February 11th, 1805, has never been suspended or repealed, and consequently is still in full force. It annulled all previous acts or parts of acts in conflict with its provisions. No single act regarding the public lands ever passed by Congress is equal in importance to this, and yet it is imperfecly understood in the land states. From this law we derive the rules for subdividing sections laid down in these pages.
SUBDIVIDING OF SECTIONS.
Only the exterior lines of sections are actually run and marked in the field by the United States deputy, and the only corner boundaries of legal subdivisions established by him are the section corners and intermediate half-mile corners on the exterior of the section.
Sections are divisible into quarters containing 160 acres each, half-quarters containing 80 acres, and quarter-quarters of 40 acres each, and government disposes of the public lands by these subdivisions; but when purchasers or settlers desire to have the boundaries of these tracts established and marked on the ground, it is done by a county or other private surveyor.
The manner of subdividing sections has been the subject of much perplexity to surveyors, and even to state legislators. The original corners established by the government surveyor must form the basis of all such subdivisions, and as these corners were sometimes established out of their proper positions, various plans for subdividing sections in such cases have been devised, with the view to correct the error in the original survey.
The legislatures of at least three of the public land states have passed laws upon this subject, each differing from the others, and all in conflict with the law of Congress. These laws must, in time, prove a fruitful source of litigation and vexatious annoyance to the land owners, and ought to be corrected as speedily as possible, and made to conform to the United States law.
It must be borne in mind that the boundaries of the public lands established by the government surveyors are unchangeable. This subject is treated of more fully in a preceding chapter, to which reference is made in this connection. The following rules will enable the surveyor to divide the section into its legal subdivisions in conformity with the law of Congress:
1. Wherever one or more of the original corners of a section was established out of place, the area of every legal subdivision in said section is affected thereby; i.e. some of the subdivisions will contain more than the regular quantity, and others will contain less. It will be useless for the surveyor, therefore, when called upon to subdivide a section where one of the original corners was established out of line or out of measure, to attempt to make such a division as will give an equal area to even two of the subdivisions; it cannot be done without violating the rules prescribed by Congress in such cases.
2. The original section and quarter section corners established by the government surveyor must stand as the true corners which they were intended to represent. This is true whether the corners be in place or not.
3. The quarter-quarter corners not established by the deputy surveyor must be planted equidistant and on line between the quarter post and the section corner.
4. All the subdivisional lines of a section must be straight lines running from the proper corner in one exterior line to its corresponding corner in the opposite boundary of the section. THERE IS NO EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE.
5. In fractional sections where no opposite corresponding corner has been or can be established, any required subdivision line of such section must be run from the proper original corner in the boundary line, due east and west, or north and south, as the case may be, to the watercourse, Indian reservation or other exterior boundary of said fractional section.
It is evident from the peculiar language of the law, that if the object which made the section fractional at the time the original survey was made shall subsequently have been removed so as to admit of establishing the omitted corner, said corner should first be planted in accordance with the principles laid down in the preceding pages, and then, instead of running the subdivision line on a
due north or west course as above directed, run a straight line between the corner so established, and the corresponding corner in the opposite boundary of the section.
ANOMALOUS SECTIONS. It has sometimes happened in finishing up the public surveys that sections longer than one mile have been made in order to close on to some previously established boundary line. These are denominated "Anomalous Sections," and the same principle governs the establishment of the corners by the government surveyor in such cases that applies to the establishing of corners in the north and west tiers of section in a township.
For example, suppose the anomalous section be 129 chs. 10 lks. from East to West. (See Fig. 3.) The posts A B C and D must be established just 40 and 80 chains, respectively, west from the section corners, and posts E F G H must be established at every 20 chains of the remaining distance west to the boundary line.
Anomalous sections should be subdivided by running straight lines from the respective corners on the south
boundary to their opposite corresponding corners, the same as in regular sections.
We publish several letters of the General Land Office containing instructions for restoring lost corners and subdividing sections in various cases, from which it will be seen that the foregoing rules and instructions upon this subject are in harmony with the views of this office.
The following examples will illustrate some of the more difficult of the rules for restoring corners.
Example 1.-Required to restore the missing section corners B, C, D, E, and the quarter section corners a, b, c, d. Fig. 1.
Mode. In this example it will be observed that two sets of section corners were established on the north boundary of the township. From the original field notes it appears that the section line between sections 1 and 2 intersected the township line 20 links west of the corner established when said township line was run. Therefore plant the corner B 20 links west of such corner; then proceed to the corner A and run a random