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Repayment of Purchase Money.
No. 285 B.
Oircular No. 16.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
GENERAL LAND OFFICE, March 29, 1867. Gentlemen : The following is a copy of a joint resolution, No. 27, as approved March 2, 1867, prohibiting payment by officers of the Government to any person not known to have been opposed to the rebellion and in favor of its suppression :
Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That until otherwise ordered, it shall be unlawful for any officer of the United States Government to pay any account, claim, or demand against said Government, which accrued or existed prior to the thirteenth day of April, A. D. eighteen hundred and sixty-one, in favor of any person who promoted, encouraged, or in any manner sustained the late rebellion; or in favor of any person who, during said rebellion, was not known to be opposed thereto and distinctly in favor of its suppression; and no pardon heretofore granted, or hereafter to be granted, shall authorize the payment of such account, claim or demand, until this resolution is modified or repealed: Provided, That this resolution shall not be construed to prohibit the payment of claims founded upon contracts made by any of the departments, where such claims were assigned or contracted to be assigned prior to April first, eighteen hundred and sixty-one, to creditors of said contractors, loyal citizens of loyal States, in payment of debts incurred prior to March first, eighteen hundred and sixty-one.
Approved March 2, 1867.
The prohibition applies only to such claims as accrued or existed prior to the 13th day of April, 1861.
To give proper effect to this joint resolution, so far as it is applicable to claims for the return of purchase money on entries of land which were cancelled prior to the date mentioned therein, you are requested, as, cases arise, to notify parties concerned that each application must be supported by the affidavit of the claimant, affirming that he in no way promoted, encouraged, or sustained the late rebellion ; but that he was opposed thereto and distinctly in favor of its suppression.
There must also be filed in each case the affidavits of at least two persons, duly certified to be respectable and credible by the officer before whom the affidavits shall be taken, showing affirmatively that they have been personally acquainted with the applicant since the 13th day of April, 1861, and that he conducted himself during the late rebellion as a loyal citizen of the United States, and that from their acquaintance with and knowledge of him, they believe him to have been opposed to the rebellion and distinctly in favor of its suppression during the period of its continuance.
In cases coming within the proviso of said joint resolution, if any shall arise, you will require the party applying as assignee of any claim for the return of purchase money, to file his affidavit showing that he was, at the date of the assignment, a loyal citizen of a loyal State, and that said assignment was made in payment of a debt incurred prior to March 1, 1861.
These affidavits may be taken before the Register or Receiver, or any officer of the United States, or of the several States, authorized by law to administer oaths and to take affidavits, and should be certified as now required in other cases; that is to say, if taken before a State officer not having or using an official seal, they should have attached the certificate of clerk of a court of record using a seal, with appropriate revenue stamps affixed.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Jos. S. WILSON, Commissioner, Register and Receiver at
No. 286 B.
Circular, No. 17.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
GENERAL LAND OFFICE, April 30, 1867. Gentlemen :-Numerous applications to correct errors in entries of the public lands having been forwarded to this office without being properly supported by testimony, it is deemed advisable to collect and present in one view all the legislative enactments, of a general character, upon the subject, with such explanatory remarks as are deemed necessary.
The acts authorizing corrections of errors in entries are the following, viz:
An Act providing for the correction of errors in making entries of land at the land
[SEC. 1.] Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in every case of a purchaser of public lands, at private sale, having entered, at the land office, a tract different from that he intended to purchase, and being desirous of having the error in his entry corrected, he shall make his application, for that purpose, to the Register of the land office; and if it shall appear, from testimony satisfactory to the Register and Receiver of public moneys, that an error in the entry has been made, and that the same was occasioned by original incorrect marks made by the surveyor,
by the obliteration or change of the original marks and numbers at corners of the tract of land, or that it has in any otherwise arisen from mistake or error of the surveyor or officers of the land office, the said Register and Receiver of public moneys shall report the case, with the testimony, and their opinion thereon, to the Secretary of the Treasury, who shall have power to direct, if in his opinion it shall be proper, that the purchaser shall be at liberty to withdraw the entry so erroneously
made, and that the moneys which had been paid shall be applied in the purchase of other lands in the same district, or credited in the payment for other lands which shall have been purchased at the same office.
Approved March 3, 1819.
An Act supplementary to an act, approved on the third day of March, one thousand
eight hundred and nineteen, entitled "An act providing for the correction of errors in making entries of land at the land offices."
[Sec. 1.] Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That where any mistake, in relation to the correct numbers of any tract of land, not exceeding in quantity one half section, may have been heretofore made by any purchaser of the public lands of the United States at private sale, and where one or more payments shall have been made by the person making the entry, on any tract entered by mistake, and where such payment has not been forfeited, previously to the passing of this act, for a failure to complete the payments on such tract; and where the purchaser or purchasers may not, in relation to said tract, have in any way taken advantage of the provisions of the act of the second of March, eighteen hundred and twenty-one, entitled " An act for the relief of the purchasers of the public lands prior to the first day of July, eighteen hundred and twenty," or of the act supplementary thereto, or the act continuing in force said supplementary act; and where the person or persons making the purchase has not in any way transferred his, her, or their right to the certificate of purchase, or the tract so purchased, and where no patent shall have issued for the tract so erroneously purchased ; and, also, in all cases of an entry hereafter made of a tract of land not intended to be entered, by a mistake of the true numbers of the tract intended to be entered, where the tract thus erroneously entered does not in quantity exceed one half section ; and where the certificate of the original purchaser or purchasers has not been assigned, or the right of the original purchaser or purchasers in any way transferred, or the patent issued for the tract erroneously entered, the purchaser or purchasers, or, in case of his, her, or their death, the legal representatives (not being assignees or transferees) may, either in the cases of entry before or after the passing of this act, and in any case coming within its provisions, file his, her, or their own affidavit or affidavits, with such additional evidence as can be procured, showing the mistake of the numbers of the tract intended to be entered, and that every reasonable precaution and exertion had been used to avoid the error, with the Register and Receiver of the land district within which such tract of land is situated, who shall transmit the evidence submitted to them in each case together with their written opinion or opinions, both as to [the] existence of the mistake and the credibility of each person testifying thereto, to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, who, if he be entirely satisfied [that] the mistake has been made, and that every reasonable precaution and exertion had been made to avoid it, shall be authorized to change the entry, and transfer the payment from the tract erroneously entered to that intended to be entered, if unsold, but if sold, to any other tract liable to entry : Provided, That the oath of the person or persons interested shall, in no case, be deemed sufficient, in the absence of other corroborating testimony, to authorize any such change of entry : And provided, also, That nothing herein contained shall affect the right of third parties.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That either the Register or Receiver may administer all oaths to be made under the provisions of this act; and every person, knowingly, wilfully, and corruptly swearing falsely on any oath administered to him or her under the provisions of this act, shall, on indictment and conviction for such offence, before any court having competent jurisdiction to try the same, suffer the pains and penalties of wilful and corrupt perjury.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That for every oath administered under the provisions of this act, the Register and Receiver shall be allowed the sum of twenty-five cents, and twenty-five cents for every hundred words of the evidence received and transmitted to the Commissioner of the General Land office; to be paid by the party making the application for a change of entry.
Approved May 24, 1824.
An Act authorizing repayment for land erroneously sold by the United States. [Sec. 1.] Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That every person, or the legal representative of every person, who is, or may be, a purchaser of a tract of land from the United States, the purchase whereof is, or may be, void, by reason of a prior sale thereof by the United States, or by the confirmation, or other legal establishment of a prior British, French, or Spanish grant thereof, or for want of title thereto in the United States from any other cause whatsoever, shall be entitled to repayment of any sum or sums of money paid for or on account of such tract of land, on making proof, to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Treasury, that the same was erroneously sold, in the manner aforesaid, by the United States, who is hereby authorized and required to pay such sum or sums of money paid as aforesaid.
Approved January 12, 1825.
The foregoing act of 12th of January, 1825, was amended February 28, 1859, so as to “authorize the Secretary of the Interior, upon proof being made to his satisfaction that any tract of land has been erroneously sold by the United States, so that, from any cause whatever, the sale cannot be confirmed, to repay the purchaser or purchasers, or their legal representatives or assignees of the purchaser or purchasers thereof, the sum or sums of money, which may have been paid therefor out of any money in the treasury not otherwise appropriated.”
An Act supplementary to an act entitled “An act providing for the correction of er
rors in making entries of lands at the land offices,” passed March third, eighteen hundred and nineteen."
[Sec. 1.] Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the provisions of the act entitled "An act providing for the correction of errors in making entries of lands at the land offices," approved March third, one thousand eight hundred and nineteen, are hereby declared to extend to cases where patents have issued, or shall hereafter issue : upon condition that the party concerned shall surrender his or her patent to the commissioner of the General Land Office, with a relinquishment of title thereon, executed in a form to be prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury.
Approved May 24, 1828.
These laws are plain and particular in their requirements, but few points being left to the elucidation of official instructions; and a careful attention to them will be sufficient, in most cases, to insure correctness in acting under them. It may not, however, be improper to remark
1. That the act of 1819 is intended to afford relief to those persons whose errors in entries have been occasioned by the original incorrect
marking by the surveyor, or by the subsequent change or obliteration of those marks, or else by any other error originating either with the surveyor or the land officers. The application of the party should be made under oath, stating particularly the nature and cause of the error, and should be supported by the best corroborative testimony that can be procured. The case is then to be reported, with the testimony, and your opinion thereon to this office, for the decision of the Secretary of the Treasury.
2. The supplementary act of May, 1824, extends the provisions of the act of 1819, so as to embrace cases where the error was not occasioned by any act of the surveyor or land officers; and provides that in all cases of error in the entry of a tract of not more than one half section, where the right of the original purchaser has not been assigned or in any way transferred, the party making the entry (or legal representatives, not being assignees or transferees) must file an affidavit, showing the nature and particular cause of the error, that every reasonable and proper precaution had been used to avoid the error, and that the land erroneously entered had not been transferred or otherwise encumbered, accompanied by the best corroborative testimony that can be procured, for you will observe, by this act, that the oath of the party interested is not, of itself, sufficient. This evidence, with your opinions as to the existence of the mistake and the credibility of each person, will be forwarded for the decision of this office.
3. The acts of 1825 and 1859 provide for cases in which the sale of the land is invalid, in consequence of the want of title thereto in the United States from any cause whatsoever. Under these acts it has been decided, that if only part of the tract purchased is covered by the interfering claim, it is optional with the purchaser to relinquish the whole tract, or only the particular part interfered with. You will observe that, under this act, the money is to be refunded by and through the Secretary of the Treasury, and not by the receiver of public moneys. All applications to obtain the benefits of this act must be supported by your joint certificate, or that of the Surveyor-General, stating the nature of the particular interfering claim, or other circumstance rendering the sale invalid, and be accompanied by the patent, if any has been issued for the invalid sale, with a relinquishment of title, in the following form :
" Whereas the act of Congress, passed on the 12th day of January, 1825, entitled 'An act authorizing repayment for land erroneously sold by the United States, provides, that whenever the sale of a tract of land by the United States is void for want of title thereto in the United States, or from any other cause whatsoever, the money paid on the same shall be refunded by the Secretary of the Treasury. And whereas [a part, or the whole, as the case may be] of the within described
section of land, is [included in the survey of the private claim of the case may be]. Now know ye that, for and in consideration of the
to me in hand paid, by the Secretary of the Treasury, I, the within named
hereby assign, transfer, relinquish, and surrender to the United States, all my right, title, interest, and claim of, in, and to, the land described in the within patent. Given under my hand and seal this
183 Signed, sealed, and delivered, in presence of
4. By the act of 24th May, 1828, the provisions of the act of 1819 are so extended as to embrace patented cases. The application for relief, in these cases, will have to be reported in the manner required in those not patented under the act of 1819, and be accompanied by a certificate that