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Supreme Court held that Dubuque asked, and the Governor of Louisiana granted, nothing more than peaceable possession of certain lands obtained from the Indians, and that Carondelet had no legal authority to make such a grant as claimed.
The Giard Claim.—The Lieutenant Governor of Upper Louisiana, in 1795, granted to one Basil Giard 5,760 acres in what is now Clayton county. Giard took possession and occupied the land until after the territory passed into the possession of the United States, after which the government of the United States granted a patent to Giard, for the land which has since been known as the “Giard Tract.” His heirs subsequently sold the whole tract for $300.
The Honori Claim.-On the 30th day of March, 1799, Zenon Trudean, Acting Lieutenant Governor of Upper Louisiana, granted to Louis Honori a tract of land on the site of the present town of Montrose, as follows: “It is permitted to Mr. Louis (Fresson) Henori, or Louis Honori Fesson, to establish himself at the head of the rapids of the River Des Moines, and his establishment once formed, notice of it shall be given to the Governor General, in order to obtain for him a commission of a space sufficient to give value to such establishment, and at the same time to render it useful to the commerce of the peltries of this country, to watch the Indians and keep them in the fidelity which they owe to His Majesty.” Honori retained possession until 1805, but in 1803 it was sold under an execntion obtained by one Joseph Robedoux, who became the purchaser. The tract is described as being " about six leagues above the Des Moines.” Auguste Choteau, the executor of Robedoux, in April, 1805, sold the Honori tract to Thomas F. Reddeck. In the grant from the Spanish government it was described as being one league square, but the government of the United States confirmed only one mile
square. Attempts were subsequently made to invalidate the title of the Reddeck heirs, but it was finally confirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States, in 1839.
The Half-Breed Tract.—By a treaty made with the Indians, Angust 4, 1824, the United States acquired possession of a large tract of land in the northern portion of Missouri
. In this same treaty 119,000 acrés were reserved for the use of the half-breeds of the Sac and Fox nation. This reservation occnpied the strip between the Mississippi and Des Moines rivers, and south of a line drawn from a point on the Des Moines river, about one mile below the present town of Farmington, in Van Buren county, east to the Mississippi river at the lower end of Fort Madison, including all the land between the two rivers south of this line. By the terms of the treaty the United States had a reversionary interest in this land, which deprived the Indians of the power to sell. But, in 1835, Congress relinquished to the half-breeds this reversionary interest, vesting in them a fee simple title, and the right to sell and convey. In this law, however, the right to sell was not given to individnals by name, but to the half-breeds as a class, and in this the subsequent litigation in regard to the “Half-Breed Tract” originated. A door was open for innumerable frauds. The result was that speculators rushed in and began to buy the claims of the half-breeds, and, in many instances, a gun, a blanket, a pony or a few quarts of whisky was snfficient for the purchase of large estates. There was a deal of sharp practice on both sides; Indians would often claim ownership of land by virtue of being half-breeds, and had no difficulty in proving their mixed blood by the Indians, and they would then cheat the speculators by selling land to which they had no rightful title. On the other hand, speculators often claimed land in which they had no ownership. It was diamond cut diamond, until at last things became badly mixed. There were no authorized surveys, and no boundary lines to claims, and, as a natural result, numerous conflicts and quarrels ensued. To settle these difficulties, to decide the validity of claims or sell them for the benefit of the real owners, by act of the Legislature of Wisconsin Territory, approved January 16, 1838, Edward Johnstone, Thomas S. Wilson and David Brigham were appointed commissioners, and clothed with power to effect these objects. The act provided that these commissioners should be paid six dollars a day each. The commission entered upon its duties and continued until the next session of the Legislature, when the act creating it was repealed, invalidating all that had been done and depriving the commissioners of their pay. The repealing act, however, authorized the commissioners to commence action against the owners of the Half-Breed Tract, to receive their pay for their services, in the District Court of Lee county. Two judgments were obtained, and on execution the whole of the tract was sold to Hugh T. Reid, the sheriff executing the deed. Mr. Reid sold portions of it to varions parties, but his own title was questioned and he became involved in litigation. Decisions in favor of Reid and those holding under him were made by both District and Supreme Courts, but in December, 1850, these decisions were finally reversed by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Joseph Webster, plaintiff in error, vs. Hugh T. Reid, and the judgment titles failed. About nine years before the “judgment titles” were finally abrogated, as above, another class of titles was brought into competition with them, and in the conflict between the two, the final decision was obtained. These were the titles based on the “decree of partition” issued by the United States District Court for the Territory of Iowa, on the 8th of May, 1841, and certified to by the clerk on the 2d day of June of that year. Edward Johnstone and Hugh T. Reid, then law partners at Fort Madison, filed the petition for the decree in behalf of the St. Louis claimants of half-breed lands. Francis S. Key, author of the “Star Spangled Banner," who was then attorney for the New York Land Company, which held heavy interests in these lands, took a leading part in the measure, and drew up the document in which it was presented to the court. Judge Charles Mason, of Burlington, presided. The plan of partition divided the tract into 101 shares, each claimant to draw his proportion by lot, and to abide the result. The plan was agreed to and the lots drawn. The plat of the same was filed for record, October 6th, 1841. The title under this decree of partition, however, was not altogether satisfactory. It was finally settled by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in January, 1855.
SYSTEM OF POBLIO LAND SURVEYS.
In connection with the subject of land titles, an explanation of the method of public surveys will prove interesting to all land owners. These explanations apply, not only to Iowa, but to the Western States generally, and to nearly all lands the title to which is derived from the Government.
Soon after the organization of our government, Virginia and other States, ceded to the United States extensive tracts of wild land, which, together with other lands subsequently acquired by purchase and treaty, constitnted what is called the public lands, or public domain. Up to the year 1902, these lands were sold without reference to any general or unitorin plan. Each person who desired to purchase any portion of the public domain, selected a tract in such shape as suited his fancy, designating his boundaries by prominent objects, such as trees, rocks, streams, the banks of rivers and crecks, cliffs, ravines, etc. But, owing to the frequent indefiniteness of description, titles often conflicted with each other, and in several grants covered the same premises.
To obviate these difficulties, in 1802, Col. Jared Mansfield, then surveyorgeneral of the Northwestern Territory, devised and adopted the present mode of surveying the public lands. This system was established by law, and is uniform in its application to all the public lands belonging to the United Statea.
By this method, all the lines are run by the cardinal points of the compass; the north and south lines coinciding with the true meridian, and the east and west lines intersecting them at right angles, giving to the tracts thus surveyed the rectangular form.
In the first place, certain lines are established running east and west, called Base Lines. Then, from noted points, such as the mouths of principal rivers, lines are run due north and south, which are called Principal Jeridians. The Base Lines and Principal Meridians together, are called Standard Lines, as they form the basis of all the surveys made therein.
In order to distinguish from each other the system or series of surveys thus formed, the several Principal Meridians are designated by progressive numbers. The Meridian running north from the mouth of the Great Miami river, is called the First Principal Meridian; that running north through the State of Indiana, the Second Principal Meridian; that rnnning 'north from the mouth of the Ohio river through the State of Illinois, the Third Principal Meridian; that running north from the mouth of the Illinois river, through the States of Illinois and Wisconsin, the Fourth Principal Meridian; and that running north from the mouth of the Arkansas river, through the States of Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin, the Fifth Principal Meridian.
Having established the Standard Lines as above described, the country was then divided into equal squares as nearly as practicable, by a system of parallel meridians six miles distant from each other, crossed or intersected by lines east and west, also six miles from each other. Thus the country was divided into squares, the sides of which are six miles, and each square containing 36 square miles. These squares are called Townships. The lines of the townships running north and south are called Range Lines; and the rows or tiers of townships running north and south are called Ranges; tiers of townships east and west are called Townships; and the lines dividing these tiers are called Township Lines. Townships are numbered from the Base Line and the Principal Meridians. Thus the township in which Sioux City, Iowa, is located, is described as township No. 89 north, in range No. 47 west of the Fifth Principal Meridian. The situation of this township is, therefore, 528 miles (making no allowance for fractional townships) north of the Base Line, as there are 88 townships intervening between it and the Base Line; and being in range No. 47, it is 276 miles west of the Fifth Principal Meridian, as there are 46 ranges of townships intervening between it and the said Principal Meridian. The township adjoining on the north of 89 in range 47, is 90 in range 47; but the township adjoining on the west of 89 in range 47, is numbered 89 of range 48, and the one nortb of 89 of range 48, is 90 of range 48, and so on.
Some of the townships mentioned in this illustration, being on the Mis. souri and Big Sioux rivers, are fractional.
The lines and corners of the townships being established by competent surveyors, under the authority of the government, the next work is to subdivide the townships into sections of one square mile each, making 36 sections in each full township, and each full section containing 640 acres. The annexed diagram exhibits the 36 sections of a township:
The sections are numbered alternately west and east, beginning at the northeast corner of the township, as shown by the diagram.
The lands are sold or disposed of by the governinent, in tracts of 640 acres, 320 acres, 160 acres, 80 acres and 40 acres; or by the section, half srction, quarter section, half quarter section and quarter of quarter section. The annexed diagram will present a section and its sub-divisions:
S The corners of the section, and the corners at N., E., S. and W. have all been established and inarked by the government surveyor in making his sub-division of the township, or in sectionizing, as it is termed. He does not establish or mark any of the interior lines or comers. This work is left for the county surveyor or other competent person. Suppose the last diagram to represent section 25, in township 89, north of range 47 west, then the sub-divisions shown may be described as the northwest quarter of section 25; the southwest quarter of section 25; the southeast qnarter of section 25, all in township 89 north of range 47 west of the 5th Principa! Meridian. But these descriptions do not include any portion of the northeast quarter of the section. That we wish to describe in smaller sub-divisions. So we say, the east half of the northeast quarter of section 25; the northwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 25, and the southrest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 25, all in township 89 north of range 47 west of the 5th Principal Meridian. The last three descriptions embrace all the northeast quarter of the section, but described in three distinct tracts, one containing 80 acres, and two containing 40 acres each.
The Base Lines and Principal Meridians have been established by astronomical observations; but the lines of sub-divisions are run with the compass. The line indicated by the magnetic needle, when allowed to move freely about the point of support, and settle to a state of rest, is called the magnetic variation. This, in general, is not the true meridian, or north and south line. The angle which the magnetic meridian makes with the true meridian, is called the variation of the needle at that place, and is east or west, according as the north end of the needle lies on the east or west side of the true ineridian. The variation of the needle is different at dif. ferent places, but in Iowa the magnetic needle points about 94 degrees east of the true meridian. The lines of the lands are made to conform as nearly as practicable to the true meridian, but owing to the imperfections of instruments, topographical inequalities in the surface of the ground, and various other causes, it is absolutely impossible in practice to arrive at perfection; or, in other words, to make the townships and their sectional sub-divisions exactly square and their lines exactly north and south and east and west. A detailed statement of the manner of sub-dividing a township into sections would be too lengthy. for this article. Suffice it to say, that the fractional tracts are all thrown on the north and west sides of the townships. The last tiers, or sows, of quarter sections on the north and west sides of a township generally fall either below or in excess of even quarter sections. Where there is a large district of country of uniform level surface, the errors of measurement are not likely to be so great, and the fractions in that case may not vary much from even quarter sections.
All measurements are made in chains. A chain is a measure of four rods, each link being the hundredth part of a chain, and is so used in the field notes and calculations. For convenience in practice, however, the snrreyor generaly uses a half chain, equal to two rods, or fifty links, but the surveyor's reckoning is kept, and all his calculations are made in full chains of four rods, and decimal parts thereof. In the measurement of lines, every five chains are called an "out,” because at that distance, the last of the ten tally rods or pins, with which the forward chainınan set out, has been set to mark the measurement. The other chainman then comes forward, counts and delivers to hin the ten tally rods which he has taken up in the last "out,” the forward chainman likewise counting the pins as he receives them. At the end of every five chains, the forward chainman as he sets the tenth or last tally rod, calls, “out,” which is repeated by the other chainman, and-by the marker and surveyor, each of whom keeps a tally of the “outs,"