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THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1927
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The committee met, pursuant to call, at 3 o'clock p. m., in the committee room, Capitoi, Senator Robert N. Stanfield presiding.
Present: Senators Stanfield (chairman), Nye, Kendrick, and Ashurst; and for quorum, Senators Smoot, Oddie, Dale, and Means.
Present also: Williamson S. Summers, attorney at law, Los Angeles, California, and Guy Mason, attorney at law, Washington, D. C.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order. Mr. Summers, I believe you wish to be heard. Mr. SUMMERS. Yes, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. First I will say that the committee has been called to consider Senate Resolution 333, with which the committee are familiar I believe, and which will be made a part of the record.
Resolved, That the Committee on Public Lands and Surveys, or any subcommittee it may designate for the purpose, be, and it hereby is, authorized and directed to make a thorough investigation of and report to the Senate its findings and recommendations regarding charges that have frequently been made and continue to persist, and reports that have long been current and now prevail that vast tracts of lands within the area of the lands ceded to the United States by the Government of Mexico were corruptly and fraudulently turned over to and delivered into the possession of private interests, and have been held and are now held by said interests without color of title, and have been exploited and are now being exploited by said interests in flagrant violation of law; that qualified citizens seeking to exercise constitutional rights relative to said lands, and parts thereof, have been maliciously threatened, intimidated, slandered, libeled, and arrested, and have been corruptly indicted and held under outrageous bonds for long periods of time, and then released without a hearing or a trial; that private interests continue in the unlawful possession of the public lands hy reason of their exerted influence over those whose duty it is to enforce the law, that public officials, charged with the duty of protecting the public lands and the rights of the people, have been corrupted; that private interests and public officials have conspired to defeat the rights of citizens and defraud the Government, and for this purpose have concealed, fabricated, and destroyed public records; that enormous sums of money have been and are now being expended by private interests and their agents in corrupting the public service to the end that said interests may continue in unlawful possession of, and to exercise unlawful control over, public lands of the United States.
That said committee is hereby authorized to sit and perform its duties at such times and places as it deems necessary or proper, and to require the attendance of witnesses by subpæna or otherwise; to require the production of books, papers, surveys, maps, grants, patents, and any and all other documents pertaining thereto; and to employ stenographers at a cost not exceeding 25 cents per hundred words. The chairman of the committee or any member thereof may administer oaths to witnesses and sign subpænas for witnesses and records; and every person duly summoned before said committee, or any subcommittee thereof, who refuses or fails to obey the process of said committee, or refuses to answer the questions pertaining to said investigation, shall be published, as prescribed by law. The expenses of said investigation shall be paid from the contingent fund of the Senate on vouchers of the committee or subcommitttee, signed by the chairman, and approved by the Committee to Audit and Control the Contingent Expenses of the Senate.
The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Summers, you may state your name and residence and proceed.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAMSON S. SUMMERS, ATTORNEY AT LAW,
OF LOS ANGELES, CALIF. '. ; 11:
Mr. SUMMERS. May it please the committee, some two or three years ago there were several men in the city of Los Angeles in a conference. The subject was an interstitial tract of land between what was then supposed were two Mexican land grants. This land had not been, as they were told, attached to either grant and was therefore, as they believed, public domain of the United States.
The question of filing on the land—that is, applying for homesteads—was taken up, and they agreed that no action should be taken until they could first come to Washington and confer with the Land Department and ascertain what, if any, attitude the official, of the department would take. If there were any objection to it they would not file; if it met with their approval, then they would file applications to homestead parts of the tract.
They selected one of their number, who came here and entered upon an investigation. He conferred with the Land Department, told the officers the purpose, and was informed by the officials of that department that as officers they knew more about the subject than he or his friends in California knew. In other words, the officials said they knew it was public domain. ..
The CHAIRMAN. Who are the persons to whom you refer? Mr. SUMMERS. The representation was talking then to the Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner of the General Land Office.
Senator CAMERON. What were their names? .
Mr. SUMMERS. The commissioner was William Spry and the assistant commissioner was George R. Wickham. : Those men assured the committee of one, whose name was Ben McLendon, that they knew it was public domain; that it was open to homestead entry; that had been stolen from the Government and had been held all these years by a lot of land thieves.
They gave him copies of maps, records, data, and called his attention to the official reports of the Commissioner of the General Land Office for 1885, 1886, and 1887. They stated to him that the 1887 report, pages 28 and 29, would show the record of the Lomas de Santiago grant, and that it was the one involved in connection with the lands that he had under consideration. So they secured for him that particular report, and gave it to him.
Here is a photostat record of what they did for him at that time, and showing the delivery to him of the report for 1887. And not only did they at that time
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Do you wish that made a part of the record? Mr. SUMMERS. It is satisfactory to me.
The CHAIRMAN. If there is no objection, what you have handed to the reporter may be made a part of the record.
(The photostat record referred to by the witness is here made a part of the record, as follows:)
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington. E. B. WICKHAM or V. H. KOENIG,
Los Angeles, Calif. In the office somewhere is two volumes of Lester's Land Decisions. Perhaps they are stored in the junk heap above the cupboards. See if you can locate them and loan them to bearer, Mr. Ben McLendon, of 307 Exchange Building, Los Angeles, and oblige.
Geo. R. WICKHAM. August 28, 1922.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington. ELLIOTT S. HUBBARD,
Care of Superintendent of Documents. W. S. Kingsbury, State surveyor general; A. W. Sanborn, deputy surveyor general, Sacramento, Calif.
OFFICE OF SUPERINTENDENT OF DOCUMENTS,
Washington. Mail ORDER, No. 4643.
Sold the following-named book which was paid for to the amount indicated, and directions given that they be mailed to: Ben McLendon, 1121 Orme Avenue, Los Angeles, Calif. 1 Land Office Annual Report, 1887.--
------- $0. 55 SUPERINTENDENT OF DocuMENTS.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
GENERAL LAND OFFICE,
Washington, September 7, 1922. Mr. BEN McLENDON,
Los Angeles, Calif. MY DEAR MR. McLENDON: Referring to your personal call of August 29, requesting the names of certain homesteaders who in 1906 filed upon certain lands within the Lomas de Santiago and San Joaquin Ranchos in Orange County, Calif., together with the descriptions of the lands filed on by said homesteaders, I have the honor to submit herewith such information as you have requested. The dates at the head of the list of names refers to the day on which the applications were filed in the Los Angeles land office.
Elijah K. West....
Robert L. Rector.
Frank A. Marche
George H. Marcher.. Sept. 27, 1906:
Elmer E. Elliott..
u rsos concre
John F. Sprouse..
James H. Sherman.
Roy Speed Parrent
Inez Emma Jennison
Will L. Frew...
Clarence A. Dickison.... Oct. 1, 1906:
Elroy E. Foskett .....
non 7 on