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REGULATIONS IN REGARD TO FURNISHING CERTIFIED COPIES OF PLATS, RECORDS, ETC. ON FILE IN THE GENERAL LAND OFFICE.
APPLICATIONS for certified copies of plats and transcripts and exemplifications of papers, etc., on file in the General Land Office, have become very numerous, and much time is required in answering them. Many of these calls involve the labor of weeks, and in some instances of months, and are of a strictly private character, having no relation to the public interests. When it is proper that such exemplifications should be furnished, they ought manifestly to be furnished at the expense of the parties requiring them. To this end Congress passed the following act, to wit:
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, from and after the first day of July next, all exemplifications of patents or papers on file or of record in the General Land Office, which may be required by parties interested, shall be furnished by the Commissioner of said office upon the payment by such parties at the rate of fifteen cents per hundred words, and two dollars for copies of township plats, or diagrams, with an additional sum of one dollar for the Commissioner's certificate of verification with the General Land Office seal; and one of the employees of said office shall be designated by the said Commissioner as the receiving clerk, and the amounts so received shall, under the direction of the said Commissioner, be paid into the Treasury of the United States; effect to be given to this act according to such regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of the Interior not inconsistent with the laws of the United States: Provided, That the fees stipulated in the foregoing provisions shall not apply to such authenticated copies as may be required by the officers of any branch of the government, nor to such unverified copies as the Commissioner in his discretion may deem proper to furnish." Approved July 2d, 1864.
As the law was not approved until the 2d day of July, 1864, it did not go into operation until one year thereafter.
On the 8th day of July, 1865, the Commissioner of the General Land Office, by direction of the Secretary of the Interior, issued the following regulations giving effect to
"First.-From and after July 1st, 1865, no copies will be furnished until the cost thereof shall first be paid to the General Land Office.
"Second. The applicant must address a communication to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, designating the tract or tracts in regard to which the verified transcripts are wanted, describing as accurately as possible the record, papers, or plats of which transcripts are desired, and sending a sum of money quite sufficient to cover the cost according to the extent of the copying required; and should the sum sent to this office be in excess of the actual cost under the act, such excess will be returned to the applicant.
"The following is the tariff established under the statute for furnishing transcripts, to wit:
"1st. Fifteen (15) cents for every hundred words in a transcript. "2d. Two dollars ($2) for copy of township plat, or diagram. "3d. One dollar ($1) for the Commissioner's certificate of verification and official seal.
"4th. One dollar ($1) for appending such certificate and seal to official certificates of approval of assignments of Bounty Land Warrants. 'Third.-Upon the receipt at the General Land Office of the application particularly describing the record or papers of which transcripts are required, accompanied by the requisite amount to cover the expense, the same will be duly acknowledged and the exemplifications promptly transmitted."
Applications for certified copies of such documents and papers as can be furnished by the local offices, should be made directly to them, as it is not desirable needlessly to increase this class of work in the General Land Office.
In writing for copies of plats, transcripts, or patents, be particular to give the township, range, and section in a legible hand.
UNCOVERED MEANDERED LAKES.
Small lakes that are not meandered when the surrounding lands are surveyed, are embraced in the legal subdivision's in which they are located respectively and are sold with them. Hence if these lakes "dry up," in whole or in part, the uncovered land belongs with the legal subdivisions in which it is located.
There are other lakes that are meandered and segregated from the public land in the progress of the government surveys, and the contents subtracted from the areas of the surrounding subdivisions. If from any cause such lakes subsequently become dry, the uncovered land belongs to the United States, and any person desiring to purchase such land may have it surveyed under the instructions and conditions on page 88 in regard to unsurveyed islands.
Where a "dried up" meandered lake lies wholly within one legal subdivision, or is properly connected with the section corners, no additional survey is required, but application may be made to the Surveyor-General, requesting that the necessary plats thereof, showing the fractional lots or subdivisions, be prepared and transmitted to the General Land Office and to the Register's office. The affidavits of two respectable persons acquainted with the facts, setting forth that said lake is entirely dry, must accompany the application. In such cases no money will be required to be advanced by the applicants for the plats.
Frequent applications are made to the General Land Office for permission to drain certain meandered lakes by artificial means, with the view to acquiring a title to the land so uncovered. No such permission can be granted under existing laws; the department deals only with the public lands.
The question of ownership of accretions is a prolific subject of inquiry and correspondence with the General Land Office. Riparian proprietorship is a subject so nearly connected with it, that they may very properly be considered under one head.
It is a principle of the common law that alluvial accretions belong to the coterminous land. Much, however, depends upon the terms and conditions of the grant or conveyance of the original title. The following general rules enunciated by the highest judicial and legal authority in the land will throw some light upon the subject:
"Land gained from the sea, either by alluvian or dereliction, if the same be by little and little, by small and imperceptible degrees, belongs to the owner of the land adjoining."-2 Bl. Com. 261-2.
"The principle governing alluvial accretions gives them to the adjoining owner."-Gerard's Lessee v. Hughes et al., 1 Gil and Johnson, 249. "In other words, the description in the original grant gave, in legal effect, to the grantee, a water boundary, and if so, the boundary included the accretions."-18 Howard, 157.
"The rights of riparian proprietors on navigable rivers are limited to high-water mark."-3 Kent Com., 7th ed. 514. "On non-navigable rivers to the thread of the stream."-13 Howard, 397.
"Grants of land bounded by the sea or by navigable rivers where the tide ebbs and flows, extend to high-water mark, that is, to the margin of the periodical flow of the tide, unaffected by extraordinary causes, and the shores below common high-water mark belong to the state in which they are situated. But grants of land bounded on rivers above tidewater, or where the tide does not ebb and flow, carry the grantee to the middle of the river, unless there are expressions in the terms of the grant, or some
thing in the terms taken in connection with the situation and condition of the lands granted that clearly indicate an intention to stop at the edge or margin of the river. There must be a reservation or restriction, express or necessarily implied, which controls the operation of the general presumption and makes the particular grant an exception."
"These are familiar principles of universal application governing the construction of grants of land bounded upon the sea or tide-water, or upon fresh-water rivers, navigable or unnavigable, and whether made by state or individuals, or in large or small tracts."
In the case of public lands, gradual and imperceptible alluvian deposits inure to the coterminous lots, the limits of which are determined by extending the side subdivisional or boundary lines to the water's edge. No additional survey by the government is required in such cases when the lots belong to private parties, but the side lines may be extended by a county surveyor the same as any other lot lines of private lands.
When a river suddenly changes its course, and leaves its original bed, the land so uncovered and lying between the meanders of said stream, inures to the lots which bounded on the river before such change occurred, the thread or center of said uncovered channel constituting the dividing line.
The following case in the Supreme Court of the United States affords a very clear illustration of the proper mode of dealing with accretions. Jones et al. v. Johnston, 18 Howard, 150-8. The annexed diagram will help to understand the case.
This suit was brought to recover a portion of alluvion or new-made land in the City of Chicago, formed in Lake Michigan, adjoining the north pier of Chicago harbor, claimed as an increment or accession to lot No. 34.
The plaintiff claimed that a part of its southern term