There are two methods only, by which a settler may obtain Government Land within the limits of the Union Pacific Railroad Grant.
First, by the
Which provides that, "Every person being the head of a family, or a widow, or single man over the age of twenty-one years, and being a citizen of the United States, or having filed a Declaration of Intention to become such, as required by the Naturlization Laws," is entitled to enter at the Land Office one hundred and sixty acres of unappropriated Government Land by complying with all the requirements of the Act.
It has been decided that a single or unmarried woman, not the head of a family, but able to meet all the requirements of the Pre-emption Laws, has the right to claim its benefits.
An individual desiring to obtain land under the provisions of the Pre-emption Act, Must FIRST MAKE SETTLEMENT IN PERSON ON THE TRACT by laying the foundations of a house or doing some work with a view of making the same his home. Where the land is "offered" the party must file with the District Land Office his Declaratory Statement as to the fact of his settlement within thirty days from the date of said settlement, and within one year from that date, must make final proof of his actual residence upon, and cultivation of the tract, and secure the same by paying cash, or filing warrants duly assigned to the Pre-emptor.
Where the land has been surveyed but not offered at public sale, the claimant must file within three months from date of settlement, and make proof and payment within eighteen months from the time of filing the Declaratory Statement, that is, within twenty-one months from the date of settlement.
Click to view
By this Act, "Any person who is the head of a family or who has
arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed a Declaration of Intention to become such, and who has never borne arms against the United States Government, or given aid and comfort to its enemies, shall be entitled to enter one quarter section, or a less quantity of the unappropriated public lands."
Within the limits of the Union Pacific Railroad Land Grant the price of Government Land is $2.50 per acre, and the amount allowed for a Homestead is restricted to eighty acres. Exception, however, is made in the case of a soldier who served at least ninety days in the war of the rebellion and was honorably discharged, he is entitled to one hundred and sixty acres of $2.50 lands, but must in all other respects comply with the requirements of the Homestead Act.
To obtain Homesteads, the party must, in connection with his application, file an affidavit that "he is the head of a family, or over the age of twenty-one years, and a citizen of the United States, or has declared his intention to become such; that said entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation; that said application is made for his own exclusive benefit and not directly nor indirectly for the benefit or use of any other person or persons whomsoever." This affidavit may be made before the Register or Receiver of the Land Office or before the Clerk of the Court of the county in which the party is an actual resident. When made before the County Clerk it must receive his official seal.
On filing the application and affidavit and paying the required fee and commissions ($14.00) the entry will be permitted.
"No certificate will be given, or patent issued until the expiration of five years from the date of said entry, and if at the expiration of said time, or at any time within two years thereafter, the person making such entry or if he be dead, his widow, or in case of her death, his heirs or devisee, or in case of a widow making such entry, her heirs or devisee in case of her death, shall prove by two credible witnesses, that he, she, or they have resided upon and cultivated the same for five years immediately succeeding the date of filing the affidavit, and shall make affidavit that no part of said land has been alienated, and that he has borne true allegiance to the Government of the United States, then he or she if at that time a citizen of the United States, shall be entitled to a patent as in other cases provided
by law." In case of the death of both parents leaving minor children, the land may be sold for cash for the benefit of such heirs, and the purchaser will receive a title front the United States. Lands entered under the Homestead Act are exempt from taxes and liability for debts contracted prior to the issuing of the patent therefor.
When a Homestead settler has failed to commence his residence upon the land so as to enable him to make a continuous residence of five years within the period (seven years) limited by law, he will be permitted upon filing an affidavit showing sufficient reasons for his neglect, to date his residence at the time he actually commenced such inhabitancy, and will be required to live on the land five years from said date, provided no adverse claim has attached to said land, and his affidavit is supported by the testimony of disinterested witnesses.
In case of the death of a Homestead settler, who leaves a widow and children, should the widow again marry and continue her residence and cultivation upon the land entered in the name of her first husband, she will be permitted to make final proof as the widow of the deceased settler, and the patent will issue in the name of his heirs.
When a widow or single woman has made a Homestead Entry and thereafter marries a person who has made a similar entry on another tract, it is ruled that the parties may select which tract they will retain for permanent residence, and will be permitted to enter and pay for the other tract on making proof of residence and cultivation up to the date of marriage. They cannot continue to hold both tracts as Homesteads.
If a Homestead settler does not wish to remain five years on his land, the law permits him to pay for it with cash or warrants, upon making proof of settlement and cultivation from the date of entry to the time of payment.
This proof must be the affidavit of the party, corroborated by the testimony of two credible witnesses. The sale of a Homestead claim by one settler to another before completion of title is not recognized by the General Land Office, and not only vests no title or equities in the purchaser but would be prima facie evidence of abandonment and give cause for the cancellation of the claim.
The law allows but one Homestead privilege. A settler relinquishing or abandoning his claim cannot thereafter make a second Homestead Entry.
A person having made settlement on a surveyed tract and filed his pre-emption declaration therefor, may change his filing into a Homestead, provided no adverse claim has attached to the land.
There is another class of Homesteads designated as "Adjoining Farm Homesteads." In these cases the law permits an applicant owning and residing on an original farm, to enter other land lying
contiguous thereto, which shall not with such original farm exceed in the aggregate one hundred and sixty acres. Thus, for example, a party owning and residing upon eighty acres may enter eighty acres additional of $1.25, or forty acres of $2.50 land, if vacant land can be found contiguous to his farm. In such cases the settler must describe in his affidavit the tract he owns and lives upon. Actual residence upon the tract entered as an adjoining farm is not required, but bona fide improvement and cultivation of it must be shown for five years.
The right to a tract entered under the Homestead Law, commences from the date of the entry in the District Land Office, and not from date of personal settlement upon the land as in the case of a pre-emption claim. When an individual has made a mistake in the description of the land he desires to enter as a Homestead and wishes to amend his application, he will be allowed to do so upon making affidavit, sustained by the testimony of disinterested witnesses, setting forth the facts and proving that he is residing and has valuable improvements upon the tract he first intended, and now desires to enter.
In making final proof the Homestead party must appear in person at the Land Office, and there make the affidavit required of him by law in support of his claim. When from physical disability, distance or other good cause, the witnesses of said party cannot attend in person at the Land Office, their testimony in support of the claim may be taken where they reside, before an officer authorized to administer oaths. Their testimony must state the reason of their inability to attend at the Land Office, and the credibility and responsibility of the witnesses must be certified by the officiating magistrate, whose official character must be certified under seal. This testimony must be filed in the Land Office with the affidavit of the Homestead party. At the time of making final proof the Homestead party must be a citizen of the United States. A declaration of intention to become such is not sufficient.
A Homestead settler must make the tract entered his actual residence and home. A temporary occupancy of a few days during each six months will not entitle one to the benefits of the Homestead Act; and a change of residence or an abandonment of his claim for six months at any time before the expiration of the five years is sufficient cause for the cancellation of his entry.
A settler may relinquish his Homestead to the United States by surrendering his duplicate, with his relinquishment endorsed thereon, or if the duplicate has been lost, that fact should be stated in the relinquishment duly signed and acknowledged.
Where application is made for the cancellation of a Homestead on the ground of abandonment, the complainant must file his affidavit with the local land officers, setting forth the facts on which his allegations are founded, describing the tract and giving the name of the
settler and the date of his entry. The officers will then set apart a day for a hearing, giving all parties interested due notice of the time and place of trial. The testimony of two witnesses is required to establish the abandonment of a Homestead entry. The expenses incident to such contest must be defrayed by the contestant.
In case of contest or relinquishment, another entry of the land cannot be made until the cancellation is ordered by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, and the fact that a party has instituted proceedings and paid the expenses incident to a contest, gives him no prior right to the tract in question, which is open to entry by the first qualified applicant.
A party, who has made final proof, or commuted his Homestead, or relinquished the same, is not thereby disqualified from exercising the right of pre-emption, nor is a person excluded from the benefits of the Homestead Law because he has heretofore availed himself of the right of pre-emption.
The law allows a Homestead settler six months from the date of his entry in which to erect his house and commence his actual residence upon the land.
The fees to be paid at the District Land Office are as follows:
|Filing Declaratory Statement||$ 2.00|
|Making Homestead Entry||14.00|
|Final Homestead Proof||4.00|
In making payment with Land Warrants the following fees must be paid:
|40 Acre Warrant||$1.00|
|80 " "||2.00|
|120 " "||3.00|
|160 " "||4.00|
These Warrants may be used in payment of $2.50 lands, by paying in addition to the Warrant $1.25 per acre-the warrant being in satisfaction of only so many acres at $1.25 per acre as are contained in the tract located. Hence, to enter with a Warrant one hundred and sixty acres of $2.50 lands would require a one hundred and sixty acre Warrant and $200.00 in cash.
A large amount of public land included within the limits of the Union Pacific Railroad Land Grant is vacant and subject to the operation of the Homestead and Pre-emption Laws.
By a careful examination of the foregoing pages, settlers may learn the manner in which they may acquire a perfect title to these lands without incurring the delay and expense of a visit to a United States Land Office.