« PreviousContinue »
tion of the surveying system, and the laws and instructions relating thereto. To give directions how to restore a lost corner without also affording some insight into the laws and practice under which it was originally established, would be like giving a theoretical explanation of a difficult field operation in civil engineering to one not conversant with that branch of mathematical science.
The government system of surveying is in some respects peculiar and unlike any other, and no adequate facilities have been afforded surveyors not employed in the public service to make themselves acquainted with its rules and principles. Hence it is in many cases impracticable to make instructions intelligible to the local surveyor, without first giving some explanations as to the manner in which the public surveys are executed.
The writer has been frequently and forcibly impressed with this truth, when endeavoring to relieve correspondents of embarrassments occasioned by a want of the proper knowledge in regard to the laws and practice of the government surveying system. Where these are understood the instructions become comparatively simple and are readily comprehended.
In 1855, a manual of instructions to regulate the field operations of United States deputy surveyors, was prepared and printed under the direction of the General Land Office. Other instructions had been printed at earlier periods, but the manual prepared in 1855 embraced all the improvements suggested by the experience of the surveying department up to that time, and was much more comprehensive and complete than anything of the kind which had preceded it.
By the second section of an act of Congress, approved May 30th, 1862, it is provided: "That the printed manual of instructions relating to the public surveys, prepared at the General Land Office, and bearing date February 22d, 1855, the instructions of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, and the special instructions of the Surveyor-General when not in conflict with said printed manual or the instructions of said Commissioner, shall be taken and deemed to be a part of every contract for surveying the public lands of the United States."
A supplemental pamphlet containing many recent changes
authorized by the department was prepared by the writer for the use of the office, and printed July 1st, 1864. The modifications and additions contained in this pamphlet are now made a part of every surveying contract, subject of course to such subsequent changes as may from time to time be found. necessary.
These rules and instructions are only intended to be furnished by the department to persons in the government service, and the aim of the writer has been to embody them in a practical form for the use of the student and the general public; he has endeavored to furnish a TEXT-BOOK which will enable surveyors to fit themselves for the public service. To this end the present work has been systematized and arranged in convenient divisions and subdivisions under appropriate heads, and illustrated by examples, forms, diagrams and maps.
To the Manual proper are added instructions for restoring extinct lines and corners of the public surveys, and for subdividing sections. These directions are based upon the laws of Congress and the well-established precedents of the General Land Office, and are very complete, embracing, it is believed, the principles at least, of nearly every case that will arise in practice. County surveyors in the public land states know well the difficulties experienced in executing this kind of surveys, and will find these instructions a great aid in performing their work.
The manner of proceeding to have certain public lands surveyed in advance of the regular progress of the public surveys, under the provisions of the 10th section of the act of May 30th, 1862, known as the deposit system, is explained; also how to proceed to get certain small islands surveyed.
An Appendix is added to the work containing instructions, forms, and rulings of the General Land Office, in regard to entering, locating, purchasing, and settling lands under the several acts following, to wit: Pre-emption Laws, Homestead Laws, Military Bounty Act, Agricultural College and Revolutionary Land Scrip, Mining Laws, etc.
Also in regard to the adjustment of public grants of land to states and corporations, for railroads, canals, schools, universities and other purposes, and the survey and settlement of private
land claims, under foreign titles and special acts of Congress, with various forms, etc.
The comprehensive index attached to the book will enable the reader to turn readily to any subject desired.
The writer cheerfully acknowledges his indebtedness to HoN. JAMES M. EDMUNDS, late Commissioner of the General Land Office, for his valuable aid in selecting and preparing the instructions contained in the Appendix. He also takes this occasion to return his acknowledgments to HON. JOSEPH S. WILSON, the present Commissioner, for the uniform courtesy and kindness shown him in affording every facility to obtain the necessary data to complete the work and bring it down to current date.
Trusting that he has to some extent succeeded in producing a hand-book of the public land system suited to the wants of a large and intelligent class of his fellow-citizens, the writer respectfully submits the following pages to the public, with the earnest wish that they may be instrumental in securing a uniformity in the laws and practice in the several land states, conforming to the laws of Congress and the decisions of the United States Courts.
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
U.S. SYSTEM OF RECTANGULAR SURVEYING.
PRIMARY SUBDIVISIONS, ETC.
Townships-Sections-Subdivisions of sections-Principal meri-