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General Land Office, November 5, 1868.

SIR: Pursuant to the resolution adopted February 28, 1855, by the Senate of the United States, the following is presented as an abstract of the annual report of this office for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1868:

1. The disposal of public lands by ordinary cash sales, by pre-emptions, homestead entries, bounty land warrant locations, college scrip, railroad and swamp selections, amounted to 6,655,742,50 acres. The cash receipts under various heads amounted to $1,632,745 90.

2. An outline is given of the surveying system extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific, the public domain being intersected by 20 base lines and 23 principal meridians.

3. The characteristics of the public lands in Michigan shown, with the quantity remaining undisposed of.

4. Like information in regard to Wisconsin.

5. The results of land operations indicated in the region embraced by Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, in which the proprietary interests of the United States have nearly all been disposed of.

6. The public land States on the Gulf of Mexico, viz., Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, particularly described in regard to their peculiarities of soil, products, and resources, the quantity of public land undisposed of in each of them being stated.

7. The advantages of soil and resources shown in regard to each of the political communities flanking the right bank of the Mississippi to the northern line of Louisiana, viz., of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas, the area of public lands undisposed of in each of these States being shown.

8. Similar statements made in regard to Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas, lying east of the Rocky Mountains.

9. The Territories traversed by the Rocky Mountains, described as to soil, resources, the area of public land in each being given, with the quantity surveyed, and that unsurveyed, referring to them in the following order: Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Recommendations submitted for the extension of the land system to the new Territory of Wyoming.

10. Next are described the advantages in soil and resources of the Territories and States between the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada, viz., Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, the area of public land undisposed of in each of them being shown, as also the quantity sur veyed and that unsurveyed.

11. The States and Territories on the Pacific Ocean described in re gard to their several peculiarities and value in soil and production, the

quantity of public land undisposed of in each of them being shown, with the area surveyed and unsurveyed, beginning with California, and extending to Oregon and Washington Territory.

12. Views presented in regard to Alaska, with recommendation of the extension to that Territory of our land system.

13. Sketch given of the leading measures prescribed by law for the disposal of the public lands.

14. Satisfactory exhibit submitted in regard to the accounts of receivers of public moneys and disbursing agents. Recommendation suggested that the statutory provision interdicting the employés of the General Land Office from purchasing public land be extended to the officers of the several districts of local land administration.

15. The pre-emption policy considered, and its value and importance to the country shown. Amendment suggested to make the system still more effective.

16. Homestead measure discussed; its importance shown, and rulings presented on various important points which have arisen.

17. The donation claims in the State of Oregon and in Washington Territory. Progress shown in regard to the consummation of individual title.

18. Town-site law considered. Regulations adopted in regard to cases arising under the acts of 1864, 1865, 1867, and 1868.

19. Exhibit furnished in regard to internal improvement grants, general and special.

20. Aggregate of the grants for support of schools, universities, and colleges shown, with the area stated that will be conceded for this purpose under existing principles of legislation.

21. The policy of Congress shown in making grants for military and naval services from the days of the Revolution to the present time; aggregate quantity given for such services.

22. An exhibit made in regard to military reservations; power of the Executive to make such shown; legislation recommended to authorize the sale of such as may be finally abandoned, and are useless to the government.

23. History of the proceedings ordered for the establishment astronomically of the boundary lines between Nebraska and Colorado, between Nebraska and Wyoming, and between Nevada, Utah, and Arizona; also in regard to the establishment of the northern boundary of New Mexico under special authority of law.

24. Details presented in regard to the late geological survey in Nebraska under act of March 2, 1867.

25. The measures shown for the extension of such explorations west of Nebraska into Colorado and Wyoming, under act of July 20, 1868. 26. General considerations presented in regard to geological and mineral interests, with recommendations that authority of law be given for the creation of a suitable edifice as a receptacle for minerals and other illustrations of the wealth of the country.

27. Laws and regulations shown in regard to the survey of islands in meandered lakes and rivers.

28. Questions discussed at length in regard to riparian interests, and the rights of parties in that relation considered. The rulings of the courts and the department in reference to such interests fully presented. 29. Progress shown in regard to swamp grants; areas of selections in place and indemnity conceded; area shown which has passed to the several States under the acts of Congress of 1849 and 1850.

30. Irrigation; particulars shown, and suggestions made in regard to this important subject.

31. Mining law of 1866 considered, and the rulings shown in several important points which have arisen in the administration of the statute in different mining localities.

32. Remarks on the railway system of the United States; extent of grants made by Congress in aid of the same; details presented in regard to the continental lines; quantity stated which will pass under existing grants.

33. Area of the national domain shown; the public acts referred to by which it has reached its present immense proportions; expansion of the territorial limits of the republic, and its relations to Asiatic trade considered.

34. The report is accompanied by tabular statements showing in detail operations under the various laws for the disposal of the public lands.

35. Estimates submitted for the service.

36. The report is accompanied by annual returns of the surveyors general of field operations in the several surveying districts; also by maps illustrative of the progress of surveys, and of other public interests. Respectfully submitted:

Secretary of the Interior.




General Land Office, November 5, 1868. SIR: The operations of this branch of the service during the last fiscal year have been co-extensive with all the public land States and Territories in which the land system has been inaugurated, embracing the States bounded by the great lakes on our northern frontier, the three immediately south of them, those fronting on the Gulf of Mexico, the tier of political communities flanking the right bank of the Mississippi from our northern to our southern limits, the States and Territories west of these in the plains, and traversed by the Rocky Mountains, and those fronting on the Pacific Ocean. The jurisdiction of the department has also been exercised in regard to claims of parties in the older States representing agricultural college grants, bounty land warrants, Indian scrip, and other elements of title granted pursuant to law. The disposal of the public lands, by ordinary cash sales, pre-emptions, homestead entries, locations of military warrants, college scrip, selections in aid of the reclamation of inundated lands, has been, for the fiscal year ending 30th June, 1868, as follows:

Cash sales...

Aggregate of military bounty land warrant locations.. Total quantity by homestead entries under acts of 1862, 1864, and 1866..

In the same period there were approved as swamp "in place" to several States, as grantees, under the act of September 28, 1850, 145,628.89 acres, and selected as swamp indemnity, 113,568.96 acres, making a total of swamp lands, or their equivalents, confirmed to States, of....

Acres. 914, 941. 33 512, 533. 42

2,328, 923.25

259, 197.85

In the same fiscal year titles under railroad grants have been vested in certain States for the quantity of...... Agricultural and mechanic college land scrip, issued under act of 1862, has been located by the assignees of certain non-landholding States, equal to..

Making a total of public lands disposed of during the fiscal year ending 30th June, 1868, of..


697, 257.57

1,942, 889. 08

6, 655, 742.50

The cash receipts during the same period for ordinary sales and preemptions, including a small quantity of military scrip received as money for the $10 homestead payments; for commissions on homesteads for fees in the locating of agricultural college scrip, for same in the locating of military warrants, for fees in pre-emption cases, on donations, on railroad selections, and on certified transcripts under the acts of 1861 and 1864, make an aggregate received during the year terminating the 30th of June, 1868, of $1,632,745 90.

In order to a proper understanding of the manner in which the boundaries of tracts of the public land are ascertained and established, it is deemed necessary to present the following


The public lands are first surveyed into rectangular tracts, according to the true meridian, noting the variation of the magnetic needle. Those tracts are called townships, each six miles square, having reference to an established principal base line on a true parallel of latitude, and to longitude styled principal meridian. Any series of contiguous townships, north or south of each other, constitutes a range; the townships counting from the base, either north or south, and the ranges from the principal meridian, either east or west. Each township is subdivided into 36 sections of one mile square, or 640 acres. The diagram here with shows the mode of surveying the township lines from the initial point or intersection of the principal base with the principal meridian, astronomically ascertained with reference to parallel of latitude and degree of longitude.

In establishing and surveying a base line from the initial point east and west, quarter section, section and township corners are established at every 40, 80, and 480 chains, respectively, which are for sections and townships lying north of the base, and not for those situated south.

In surveying the principal meridian north and south of the initial point, similar corners are established, which are common for townships lying immediately east or west. Standard parallel or correction lines are run east and west from the principal meridian with similar character of corners, as on the principal base and meridian, and constitute special bases for township lines lying north thereof, the correction lines being run and marked at every four townships, or 24 miles north of the base, and at every five townships, or 30 miles south of the same.

Guide meridians are surveyed at distances of every eight ranges of townships, or 48 miles east and west of the principal meridian; the guides north of the principal base starting either from it or from standard parallels. They are closed by meridional lines on other standard parallels immediately north, while those lying south of the principal bases start in the first instance from the first standard parallel south, and are closed by meridional lines on the principal base. Then the

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