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1ST.-THE 500,000 ACRE GRANT.
The State upon her admission into the Union became entitled to 500,000 acres of lands. These lands were granted by act of Sept. 4, 1841, for the purposes of internal improvements, but the State was admitted, by act of Congress of Dec. 28, 1846, with a provision in her constitution diverting these lands from the purposes of internal improvements, to the support of common schools throughout the State; Con. gress by said act of admission consenting to the diversion, and by a subsequent act of Congress approved March 2, 1849, assent to such diversion is expressly given. These lands were selected by Commissioners appointed by act of the General Assembly of February 25, 1847, and on September 12, 1854, were approved and certified to the State by the Department of the Interior.
There were about 35,473.54 acres in excess of the grant thus selected and approved-in this quantity is included 12,813.51 acres lying in Webster and Hamilton counties known as Des Moines river school lands. This excess was finally adjusted between the State and the General Government by the latter retaining, with the consent of the State and the Des Moines Valley Railroad Company, (the beneficiary of the Des Moines River grant of July 12, 1862,) an equal quantity of the Des Moines River indemnity lands due the State as per adjustment with the Department, the State accounting to said Railroad company, for said lands so retained at $1.25 per acre. By act of the General Assembly of January 15, 1849, these lands were to be sold by the School Fund Commissioners, by direction of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The act of January 25, 1855, withdraws them from the supervision of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and requires the School Fund Commissioner to offer and sell them.
The act of March 23, 1858, abolishes the office of School Fund Commissioner, requires the Superintendent to turn over to the State Auditor all his books and papers relating to the School Fund, and those relating to the School and University lands to the State Land Office; empowers the county judge and township trustees to control and sell the 16th Section lands, but makes no provision in regard to the 500,000 acre grant.
The act of April 3, 1860, gives the control of these lands, with the
16th Sections, to the boards of supervisors, and provides for their sale by the clerk of the district court, under direction of said boards. (See Revision 1860, page 348.)
The act of March 29, lands at $1.25 per acre.
1864, fixes the minimum price of School Prior to this the law fixed no minimum price.
The act of April 7, 1868, creates the office of County Auditor, and provides that he shall perform all duties in respect to School lands and funds, then performed by the clerk of the district court; the county judge to be ex-officio Auditor from January 1, 1869, until the Auditor should be elected and qualified.
The act of March 21, 1870, (see Code of 1873, page 338,) fixes the minimum price of School lands at $6.00 per acre, and provides that no School land shall be sold in any Congressional township of 36 Sections, until 25 legal voters reside therein; and a fractional township of less than 36 sections, must have a proportionate number of legal voters. It also makes provision for selling school lands for less than the minimum price in certain contingencies. The question of title to the 12,813.51 acres of these lands lying in Webster and Hamilton counties, known as Des Moines River School lands, is still before the courts, no decision having been reached.
Henry Fisher, who purchased of John Tolman, School Fund Commissioner of Webster county, the w hf of se qr of section 15, and the n hf of the nw qr of section 23, township 87, range 26, surrendered his evidence of title, under the provisions of the act approved April 2, 1860, and the amount paid by him for said tracts, with interest, amounting to $1,003.48 was refunded December 18, 1876.
Total number of acres certified to the State under the grant...$535,473.54 Number of acres unpatented, about.............
35,936.48 The following is a statement of the quantity of lands of the 500,000 acre grant in the several counties patented since the last report of this office:
*NOTE.-In this quantity is included the 12,813.51, known as Des Moines River School lands.
2ND. THE SIXTEENTH SECTION GRANT.
The State acquired by act of Congress of March 3, 1845, on her admission into the Union, the 16th section in every township in the State, and where said sections had been otherwise disposed of, other lands in lieu thereof.
The act of the General Assembly of February 25, 1847, placed these lands under the control of the School Fund Commissioner and Township Trustees, and authorized their appraisement and sale.
The act of March 23, 1858, abolished the office of School Fund Commissioner, and gave the control of said lands to the County Judge in connection with the Township Trustees.
The act of April 3, 1860, which took effect the first Monday in January, 1861, gave the control and management of these lands to the Boards of Supervisors and Township Trustees, to be sold by the Clerk of the District Court, under direction of said boards.
We have noticed the legislation subsequent to the act of April 3, 1860, relative to the control and disposition of the school lands, under the head of "The 500,000 acre grant," and as it applies alike to both grants, it is unnecessary to repeat it here. The laws now in force. regulating the management and disposition of the school lands and funds, are embodied in the Code of 1873, pages 338 to 349.
The proceeds of the sales of the 16th section and 500,000 acre lands the five per cent of the net proceeds of the sales of public lands in the State, and the proceeds of the sales of lands escheated to the State, constitute the permanent school fund of the State, the interest of which can only be used for the support of the common schools.
The act of March 24, 1864, required the clerks of the Boards o Supervisors to report, on May 1, 1864, and semi-annually thereafter, the allotments, appraisements and sales of school lands in their respective counties.
It appears that most of the counties complied with said law in the first year of its existence, but have given little heed to it since. It is, therefore, impossible for this office to report the amount of school lands unsold. This law was not embodied in the Code of 1873, and probably it is generally understood not to be in force.
Sec. 88 of the Code provides "that no patent shall be issued for any lands belonging to the State, except upon the certificate of the person or officer specially charged with the custody of the same, setting forth the appraised value per acre, name of the person to whom sold, date of sale, price per acre, amount paid, name of person making final payment, and of person who is entitled to the patent, and if thus entitled by assignment from the original purchaser, setting forth fully such assignment."
It frequently occurs that the certificate of final payment is not presented for patent until long after it is issued, and when finally presented the original purchaser to whom it was issued may be dead, and his interest transferred. Patents, in such cases, have been issued without a knowledge, at the time, of the death of the purchaser.
The law does not authorize this office to issue patent to any party tut the one named in the certificate as being entitled thereto, and the courts hold that in the absence of any statutory provision, a patent to a dead person conveys no title. I would, therefore, respectfully suggest that this matter be presented to the next General Assembly, with a view to the passage of an act similar to that enacted by Congress to meet such cases, which provides that in all cases where patent has issued or shall issue to a dead person, title passes to the heirs or grantee, as the case may be, of such person.
The amount of lands inuring to the State under this grant is about 1,013,614.21 acres. The amount unpatented is about 254,086.83 acres.