Nebraska as a State | First State Officers|
Legislative | Political | Removal of the Capital
Impeachment of Gov. Butler: Article I | Article II | Article III|
Article IV | Article V | Article VI | Article VII | Article VIII | Article IX
Article X | Article XI
Impeachment of Gov. Butler (cont.): Answer|
Constitution of 1871 | The James Regime | Proclamation|
The James Regime(cont.) | Supplementary Resolutions|
Constitution of 1875: |
Preamble | Article I--Bill of Rights | Article II--Distribution of Powers
Article III--Legislative | Article IV--Legislative Apportionment
Constitution of 1875 (cont.): |
Article V--Executive Department | Article VI--The Judicial Department
Article VII--Rights of Suffrage | Article VIII--Education
Article IX--Revenue and Finance | Article X--Counties
Article XI--Corporations: Railroad Corporations
Municipal Corporations | Miscellaneous Corporations
Article XII--State, County and Municipal Indebtedness
Article XIII--Militia | Article XIV--Miscellaneous Provisions
Constitution of 1875 (cont.): |
Article XV--Amendments | Article XVI--Schedule
Propositions Separately Submitted | Legislative and Political
Legislative and Political (cont.) | Popular Votes | State Roster|
Senatorial Succession | The Political Status of Nebraska|
The Population of Counties | Omaha in 1858|
Per Cent of Increase in Population | Prof. Wilber's Address
Hon. J. M. Woolworth's Address | Public Lands|
Educational Lands in Nebraska | Educational|
Slavery in Nebraska|
The Woman Suffrage Question|
The amazing spectacle of a region large enough to hold important place in the political geography of the world among the empires, growing to nearly half a million in population during a quarter of a century, naturally awakens speculation as to the causes which have accomplished such results. "The Philosophy of Emigration" was the theme of an address, delivered before the State Historical Society, January 21, 1881, by Hon. J. M. Woolworth, of Omaha, an observer of the great work in Nebraska, and we here quote the paper in full as a solution of the problem by an able thinker:
It is fit that in this year of grace 1880, and in this month of January, we should, by public exercises now held for the first time, mark a period in the history of the State.
It was in March, 1854, that the Indians, by treaty, ceded these regions to the United States, and in May that a system of government was framed for them. In October, Francis Bent, the first Governor, landed on these shores. In a few weeks he died, and the work of organization devolved on Thomas B. Cuming, the Secretary. On the 21st day of October, he ordered a census of the new population. On the 23d of November, he divided the Territory into counties and precincts, and apportioned the members of the Council and House of Representatives among them. On the 12th of December, an election of members of the Legislature was held. On the 20th of that month, Gov. Cuming constituted the judicial districts, assigned the Judges to them and appointed the terms of court, and on the 16th of January, 1855, he convened the Legislative Assembly at Omaha.
The work of organization was complete. The three essential branches of a political machinery framed after the pattern which the long experience and best wit of man has contrived, now went into operation, never afterward, in all the course of time, to stand still.
From 1855 to 1880, in twenty-five years--a fraction of a century ago--one of those awful periods of time by which men measure the age of the world. These periods--centennial, semi-centennial, quarter-centennial--seem to the imaginations of men peculiar and sacred. In the lives of men and of people they are points of pause, rest and reflection; for their little while they are consecrated to memory and anticipation. It is fortunate for the society that in this twenty-fifth year after the organization of regulated government, here at one of these sacred points in the existence of political society, it should enter upon its more public career, and manifest to the people of this commonwealth the beneficence of its object, that, namely, of gathering, cherishing, hallowing and illustrating the names and events, which otherwise must soon survive only in tradition and legend.
My general purpose, in this address, is an inquiry into the causes which impel men to plant new seats in unoccupied regions of country.
And first remark, that this movement is not accidental, local or temporary. On the other hand, it embraced all enlightened people, and beginning with the first dawn of intelligence, it has been going forward unchecked to this day.
From the cradle of the race the face of man has been toward the setting sun. Behind him have been the scenes of his childhood. the affections of his father's house, the altar at which he has been taught to worship God; before him have been new regions, in whose recesses his imagination has pictured better homes and freer life. Behind him have been what his elders have achieved; before him visions of what he shall achieve. It is the order of nature; as the shades of evening gather in the east morning breaks in the west. His march has always been from east to west, and is strewn with the relics of empires. From India, by way of Babylon, Ninevah, Jerusalem and Egypt to Greece, with her Thebes and Athens and Corinth; to Carthage and Rome and the cities of the Moor; to beautiful France, mighty Germany and glorious Britain, enveloping this country of ours and stretching on to Australasia, New Zealand and the islands of the sea, it has, through all recorded time, been from east to west, one steady, direct, continual. triumphal, desolating march--too long and steady, too direct and continuous, to have been an accident; too triumphant to have been marshaled by human will, and leaving in its pathway ruins; too mighty solitudes; too vast, and deserts where once was beauty; too inhospitable to have been the wish or the work of human hearts.
Mark, too, another related fact, that in the work of colonization there is something which, in a singular way, has always engaged the imaginations of men. The early history of every people has been a field of tradition, legend and romance, in which the national sensibility has gathered delightsome sustenance, and to the men of those times characters are attributed so large, potential find heroic that the national imagination imputes divine qualities to them.
How in the Odessey and the Iliad and the tales of Herodotus, recited in every Grecian city; in the picturesque pages of Livy, the tales of Scott and the idyls of Tennyson, and the records of the Pilgrims, of Washington and his Generals, of Adams and Jefferson and Hamilton and their compeers, do the founders of the great nations glow and expand under the inspiration of patriotic pride; and in the contemplation of their work and character with what a peculiar, profound and responsive emotion does the national heart always overflow. Conditores imperaorum the Romans called them, and Virgil, with consummate tact, introduces his hero by the large phrase "Who planted seats in Latium." The reason for which is that in this work of making the earliest settlements in new regions--in this work of laying the foundation and framing the structure of what becomes at last an orderly, stable and embellished society, there is something so engaging, so beneficent, so adventurous, so far-reaching that the imagination of men, and the emotions of gratitude and ancestral pride, and a personal sense of kinship with what is heroic and admirable are caught by the contemplation and carried away captive.
The different forces have impelled, various motives have induced men to emigrate. The plethora of citizens who thronged the streets of Grecian cities; the need of Rome to fortify the conquest of her army by the introduction of her laws; the mercantile sagacity of the Netherlands extorting a thrifty trade; the plunder of the natives, anti the gold and silver of their mines which freighted the Argosy of Spain; the genuine passion for the national glory which has always inspired Frenchmen--these are the immediate motives which have prompted those nations to settle new regions. But observe how all these diverse motives are derived from, and have reference to, the mother State. None of them center in the colony. That is the assistant, the contributor to the advancement and the glory of the home government. It is never the ultimate nor even an independent good. The structure of the colonists has been framed as their purpose has been conceived at home. Hence they have been the repetition and continuance. Reproduction hardly modified by new conditions of the parent government. The civil polity which ruled, and the literature and arts which adorned Athens rendered orderly and graceful the attic Amphipolis and Thurii. The Roman cities of Gaul, Hispania and Africa displayed anew the forum, the commitia, and the temples of the immortal gods of the imperial city. Spanish, French and Dutch colonies have known no theories of government; no forms of worship; no traditions, customs, modes, aspirations, but such as they have carried with them. There has not been the play of invention or variety of contrivance, or the vigor of a venturesome, independent, individual enterprise. The longing of the exile's heart for the pleasant abodes of his fathers has been assuaged by their reproduction in the new land, but the man has not been made more manly by endurance; nor his fiber stiffened by struggle; nor his nerves steadied by resolution. He has always been an exile, sick for the old home--not a colonist bent on building new and a better home.
English colonization is of another character. The Englishman is singularly fitted for foreign enterprise. He is the Roman of modern times. He has the same arrogance without the least consciousness of the rights of others; the same imperious temper that dominates every foreign sentiment and every alien force; the same intense, aggressive, sublime egotism which projects itself upon every people it is amongst and compels a service whether hearty or hateful to the glory of England. Expedient, adventurous, self-seeking, self-reliant, persistent, he is the sort of man for the work of planting new seats in new regions.
And so from that little island, with an area little larger than Nebraska, have gone out emigrants into all lands, until, with her colonial possessions, Britain is an empire of universal dominion. As Webster said: "The morning drum-beat, following the sun and keeping company with the hours, circles the globe with the martial music of England."
The colonial enterprises of Great Britain have in their origin, spirit and purpose, been in strong contrast to of the other modern European nations. They have not been projected by the ministry, their structure has not been framed at home; they have never had the public assistance, often not the public observation. They have been private individual adventures sent out, upheld, and maintained by private funds and having the protection and support of the Imperial Government only when success has proved their right to be. If, as in the case of New Zealand, the form, structure, modes, customs of the new community has been prescribed at home in the infancy of the enterprise, the contrivance has soon shown its inaptness for the new conditions, and circumstance, expedience and compliance, have asserted themselves.
With such a nature and such a career in colonization, it is easy to see what is in the Briton which impels him to seek new places for abode and conquest. He is, and he always has been a politician--he is, by the education of centuries, steeped in politics. From Magna Charta, indeed from a time long before Magna Charta, he has been absorbed in questions of government and society; he has been busy in complaining of mischief and contriving remedies by legislation. There never was a nation of such a vast, complex, varied, radical body of statutes as England, and each one of them is the ultimate formula to which long discussion, contention, and passionate struggle has at last been reduced. If that is a true saying "happy is the nation which has no annals," then surely is Britain the most unhappy of all lands, for her annals are full. Thus educated, the passion of the Englishman is for social and public affairs, for whatever justifies a claim of right to share in the office and work of directing them. The young man coming from the public school or the university is full of the struggles of the Roman Forum or the English Commons, and he longs for the conflict. He has heard Roman laws and English statutes called by their author's name, and he is inflamed by a desire for such immortality. Or the ambition may be more subdued--content with a seat in the inferior magistracy or in the direction of public charities, or the management of private enterprise, but it is an ambition, of whatever pretension, which is born in him, and demands gratification.
The colony, the new conditions which obtain there, the plastic elements of unsettled society, to be molded to new forms, landed estates easily acquired, with Castle Hall or Lodge, and whatever contributes to dignity, and conspicuous station, charities, associations, monied, social and political houses, towns, roads, and whatever forms an embellished society, all these appealing to aspirations, natural to him and developed by education, invite him thither to the work of organization, and of protecting himself upon and perpetuating himself in the forms, methods, traditions, customs, institutions, and principles of the immature society, which one day shall become the stable, orderly, regulated, consolidated, immortal State.
And so it is that the Englishman--expedient, venturesome, self-reliant, political, and ambitious to direct affairs, turns from the old home to a new, distant, unsettled, and undeveloped land; and so it is that British colonies planted in every land and by every sea under the whole heavens have formed an Empire, whose provinces are nations, whose subjects are of every race, whose dominion by weight of arms and sway of laws, and breadth of civilization, and supremacy of will exceeds that of Imperial Rome.
The colonization of oar country is in its circumstances, motives, spirit, purpose and polity, in striking contrast to all other like enterprises. It contributes largely to constitute the century an epoch in history.
The early English settlers of our country possessed all those characteristics which we have enumerated--but they possessed them to a degree so much greater than their countrymen in general, that they seem of another order and a higher quality. They were gentlemen by birth; they belonged to the rank of the gentry of England, or of the upper middle class. They had been educated in public schools and Universities and to all good learning of their time. They added a wide observation and a profound acquaintance with the most profound truths, and most of them were men of property, well able to bear the expense of their enterprise and the risk or their adventure. In Virginia they were the cavaliers of the civil wars of England, to whom the disasters of the royal arms made removal from the commonwealth expedient; and the ancestors of Washington, Jefferson, Monroe and Madison. In New England they were the Puritans, who sat in the long Parliament, and tilled the armies of Cromwell, and who bore such sons as the Adamses, the Winthrops, the Endicotts. Like the best of Englishmen, they were expedient but so that they were wise in great affairs; and venturesome but so that they risked their all for a great cause; and self-reliant but so that their wills were iron; and they were politicians but of such sort that they not only founded commonwealths, but founded commonwealths on new doctrines and with a new construction.
That you may duly appreciate this quality, pause here a moment to mark what was their training in politics. It was in the school of the Revolution. There, at the fireside, in the club, in the pulpit, in Parliament, in every place of debate and conversation, and by every means by which men tell what they know, think, believe, hope for, even in the clang and carnage and awful dispute of battle, they had all their lives heard high discussion of every principle of English government and every event in English constitutional history, every theory, and doctrine, and sentiment, and tradition of free institutions and regulated liberty. To all which the Puritans added profound convictions of religion, which, while it gave a somber hue to their lives, gave also an intensity, depth and force to their character which made them fit to be founders of empires.
And now mark a happy circumstance in their enterprise--the neglect, the ignorance and heedlessness on the part of the Crown of what they then essayed. Charters were granted of such extensive powers that, under their sanction, government was remitted to the hands of the colonists, or else, as in the case of Plymouth, the settlement planted without authority was organized, regulated, nourished, developed according to the intelligence and will of the settlers alone. All which, as it began without the assistance, proceeded without the observation of the Crown.
And thus, happily left to themselves, observe what these men did. In 1819, in Virginia, a government was framed, with an Executive of limited powers and a representative body of legislators, which was the first popular assembly in the Western Hemisphere, and two years afterward a written constitution was adopted by ordinance, in which the purpose of government was declared to be "the greatest comfort and benefit to the people, and the prevention of injustice, grievances and oppression." Those maxims of liberty which form the bill of rights in the constitution of every State in the American Union to-day are found there set forth almost in the very phrase which we now use--provision against arbitrary taxation and in favor of freedom of trade, immunity from military impositions and the independence of religious societies, and reserving to the representatives of the people power to levy war, conclude peace, acquire territory and enact laws, and to the people themselves, in their primary and sovereign capacity, to select their officers and rulers by universal suffrage.
And so it was in New England. Her colonies were almost pure Democracy. They were "governments of the people, by the people, for the people." But they also led the way in another and a most beneficent direction. Independent of each other in structure, they were all involved together in warfare with the Indians in their midst and the French on their border. And they soon became involved in a common dispute with the mother country for those principles and institutions which, by the sanctions either of her neglect or the grants of her charter, they had secured to themselves. And then they were driven to mutual counsel, assistance and support. And so there came out of their fortuitous necessity, by their rare aptness for political affairs, the confederation of New England--that association which was the germ, invitation, example, prototype of that most consummate contrivance of political wisdom, the Union and Constitution of the United States.
I pointed out to you how the emigrant Greek, Roman, Spanish, Dutch, French and English carried with him the civil polity, the modes of life and the religion in which he was reared, and how the misery of separation from the homes of his fathers and the institutions of his native country was assuaged by their faithful reproduction in the new land. But the colonies of America advanced beyond all the practices of English government and all the maxims of English freedom, and by a prescient, a vigorous, a resolute intelligence opened a new prospect, a new purpose, a new life and a new destiny for the race.
Coming now to the inquiry as to our country and times, we observe the march of the generations and of empire still steady, persistent, continuous from the East to West. Hardly was the colony of Massachusetts Bay well planted before the younger Winthrop led thence an adventurous company to new settlements in the valley of the Connecticut, and the cavaliers of Virginia to Kentucky and the valley of the Ohio to found their new commonwealths, as noble as their own. Each decennial census has shown the center of population steadily advancing from the Chesapeake and Massachusetts Bays to the Mississippi. And the question is, what force embracing all sections of the country and operative always compels this general movement of the populations?
The attempt has been made to explain it by a desire of each individual to better his physical condition; to make for himself a home; to acquire wealth, money possessions more quickly and easily than is possible in an old community. But this explanation does not take into account the breadth and duration of the movement of men from the East to the West; it attempts to account for a universal phenomenon, by a circumstance and an accident. You cannot predicate individual motives of masses of men. Each chivalrous knight who went to the rescue of the holy places, was inspired by a desire for personal glory, but that most picturesque procession of the crusaders gathered out of every Christian people, was marshaled by no such accident, but rather by an enthusiasm encompassing all Europe, to redeem the sanctities of their religion from the sacrilegious hands of the Saracen.
A solution of our question which refers to the general and perpetual act of emigration to the individual, is like attributing to the single drops of the water of the sea, the universal fact of the great tide, which, following the heavenly order and compassing all oceans, pours its mighty course from continent to continent.
Nor may the fact be attributed to a natural love of adventure and change. Doubtless the charm of adventure is something; the mere fact of removal is something. The exchange of familiar and, therefore, tame scenes and companionship for other lands, other seas, other skies and other air, strangely quickens, freshens, and stimulates the pulses, sensations, thoughts, emotions and aspirations. This is a common experience, and touching the universal fact is something, and yet it is inadequate to account for the sacrifice of so much that the heart loves, and for the endurance of so much that the heart revolts from.
The American has certain qualities of the Roman of the ancient, and the Briton of modern times--tenacity of purpose, love of dominion and an aggressive egotism. Like them, he is fitted by nature for foreign enterprise. And as these qualities with him are enlivened by vivacity, sensibility, emotion, he, far more than they, delight in adventure. The risks, the struggle, the promise, the freedom of colonial life have for him even more than for others a charm and an attraction.
But there is another quality which he had in common with the Roman and the Briton--he is passionately political--he is the citizen. The training of the schools arouses this passion; his first lessons are of the contests of Roman freedom, and the great names and great events of Roman history live forever in his imagination. The story of English liberty, the field where arms have conquered it, and high disputes in which it has been vindicated, are familiar passages of his early reading. His mind has been developed, his memory stored, his reason disciplined, by the study of the politics of his own country--the grand contentions which preceded the Revolution and the Rebellion, the due measure of State and National jurisdiction, the modes and results of elections, the awful question of human slavery, its extinction and abolition, its sanctity under the Constitution, and iniquity under a just morality, finance, reconstruction, wars, conquests, purchases of territory, and the achievements of peaceful, beneficent, wide-spreading commerce, and the arts, and literature, and invention. Our annals, too, have been fall. To the solution of the problems they reveal, no people ever brought a profounder spirit, a more resolute inquiry, a more vigorous contention.
When entering upon the field of daily action, the American citizen encounters the intense activity of our civil life. Our institutions are intensely social, and our society is intensely political. The ballot is in every hand, and every office is the potential inheritance of every citizen. Elections are of annual or more frequent occurrence, and measures nearly affecting the interests of every person are in constant agitation. Public assemblies, public speech, newspapers, periodicals and pamphlets, and the full publication of all deliberative and legislative bodies hold the public attention to public affairs and keep it excited, curious, and in ferment.
The conditions of the West offer to the young and adventurous, opportunity for the most abundant gratification of the political passion. Ease in acquiring land, feeedom from prescriptive rights, unsettled methods, immature institutions, lax social customs, and opportunity for adventure, a free field for struggle, invite with alluring promises. The young citizen, with all the world before him where to choose, bids adieu to the home of his father, its settled, prescribed, regular, inflexible modes, and its constrained, contracted promises and hopes, with a sense of relief, and tries the new life of unformed society, resolved to be a man, to do a man's part in the ordering of the new community, to assert himself among its active forces, impress them with his personality, guide them by his intelligence, and have a part in the making, and be a part of the product of the immortal State.
This is the solution of the phenomenon of cultivated mind turning to uncultivated nature in the pioneer settlements of the West. It is not personal, although personal motives mingle with it, it is not individual, but it stimulates and ennobles individuals. It is not local, but so general that it is assisted by the national policy, and in turn ministers to the national glory. And so it has happened that Indian country after Indian country is ceded to the Government; that Territory after Territory is organized; that men come and plant, and sow, and reap, and ply commerce, and contrive institutions, and wage the awful strife of life; that State after State is admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original thirteen in order; that men may live in peace and social rest, bear among them the various lot of life, perform the great social labors, and thrive and rejoice in the arts of usefulness, and of beauty, and perfect the loftier arts of virtue, and of empire, and share together the protection, and the glory of the nation that is one formed of many--the Union of States, one and inseparable.
And so it shall be--nor hardly may we anticipate its period--all this Western country from the British to the Mexican line, half the area of the continent remains to be populated, fields to be tilled, mines developed, cities planted, arts nourished, and States formed, until they shall be as the stars of Heaven for multitude. Fear not for the mighty growth, it shall not crush, but rather illustrate these benign institutions of Nation and of State--co-existing and related, one the complement of the other--the two together ministering to the common peace, and wielding a different supremacy for the safety of all; and form that very perfectness of political contrivance, which, as it was equal to the small beginnings of the Nation, shall still be equal to the exigencies of the mighty Empire, under the beneficence of its jurisdiction; under the stable order of its judicious laws; under the stimulating instruction of its temperate agitation, and under the blessings of an intelligent, profound, vital, religious faith, civilization shall be advanced beyond what now the heart of man can conceive.
The public lands of Nebraska were all surveyed under that admirable system which is attributed to Gen. William H. Harrison as its invention. By it, the former method of metes and bounds is dispensed with, and in the stead of trees or stones or perishable obstacles as the starting-point, is an imaginary, but infallible, plan of lines, called base lines and meridians. First, the meridians are established, running, due north from some fixed geographic landmark, and afterward these are intersected by base lines running east and west. There are six principal meridians in the land surveys of the West. The first runs from the mouth of the Miami River, in Ohio; the second, from the mouth of the Little Blue. River, in Indiana; the third, from the mouth of the Ohio River, at Cairo, Ill.; the fourth, from the mouth of the Illinois River; the fifth, from the mouth of the Arkansas River. Upon the Sixth Principal Meridian, with its base line the 40th Parallel of latitude, is arranged the system of surveys for public lands in Nebraska and Kansas. This meridian crosses the 40th Parallel between Gage and Jefferson Counties, having for a starting-point the intersection of the base line and principal meridian.
First, standard parallels are run, at intervals of twenty-four miles, or the width of four townships, on the north of the base line and at an interval of thirty-five miles, or five townships on the south of the base line.
Second, guide meridians are next established, at distances of eight townships, or forty-eight miles east and west of the principal meridian.
In this manner, large parallelograms, twenty-four and forty-eight miles, are formed, whose limits are the base line, principal meridian, standard parallel and guide meridian. These are the basis of land surveys.
In numbering the townships, east or west from a given meridian, they are called ranges, but in numbering north or south from a base-line they are called townships. Townships are divided into square miles, or tracts of 640 acres, each called sections. The section is the unit of survey, but these are subdivided into tracts of forty acres.
On the 1st of January, 1863, the homestead law went into effect, and thereby public lands were subject to entry, by those who acknowledged their intention to settle permanently, for a mere nominal fee. Congress, in order that the benefits of the law might be distributed justly, has, from time to time, amended its provisions and enlarged its scope. In particular, new and most liberal provisions have been made, by which the soldier, his widow and his orphans, are permitted to receive enlarged privileges in securing homesteads, thus adding to the national recognition of the principle that every citizen of the republic is entitled to the right to make himself a home upon the public domain, the still nobler and higher doctrine that it is the nation's duty to reward the defenders of the country, and to provide homes for the families of those who gave up their lives in its defense. The Congress of 1873 passed three separate acts enlarging the homestead privilege, one of which, containing provisions for the encouragement of timber cultivation, is calculated not only to shorten the time within which the settler may obtain a patent for his land, but also to greatly stimulate one of the most useful branches of cultivation. The public surveys have, from year to year, been extended to meet the wants of the emigrant as he has pushed his explorations toward the frontier. And as the surveyor has gone forward with his compass and chain, followed closely by the immigrant, both have been surprised with the beauty and richness of the country, and both have looked in vain for their western limit. The public lands of Nebraska are classed as agricultural lands, and may be taken under either the pre-emption, homestead or timber culture laws.
Pre-emption.--Every person who is the head of a family, or over twenty-one years and a citizen of the United States, or has declared his intention to become such, who does not own 320 acres of land in any State or Territory, is entitled to enter a quarter-section of land under the pre-emption act, but no person can move off from his or her own land in the State of Nebraska upon a tract of land, and enter it under the pre-emption act. The rules of the General Land Office require a person to build a house and break at least ten acres of land before he can make proof and get a title to the land. In order to take a pre-emption, a settlement must first be made on the tract. This may be by any act that will show that labor has been done, such as breaking a piece of ground, staking out the foundation for a house, or by other act of labor that will give notice of occupancy. A reasonable time is given from the date of settlement in which to build a house and make a residence thereon. No definite time could be fixed upon, because a reasonable time in which to build a large house might be an unreasonable time to build a small one--or a person with ample means could reasonably build quicker than another without means. The Government lands in the State of Nebraska are "unoffered;" that is, they have never been offered at public sale by a proclamation of the President of the United States. On this class of lands ninety days are given from the date of settlement in which to file a declaratory statement, which is simply a notice that the pre-emptor intends to take the land, and thirty-three months from the date of settlement in which to make proof and receive a title; but, as said before, proof may be made after six months, provided a house has been built, and the pre-empting party has resided and is residing there at the date of proof, and has broken at least ten acres of land.
Homesteads.--Any person who is over the age of twenty-one years, or is the head of a family and is a citizen of the United States, or has declared his intention to become such, under the laws thereof, may take a homestead. He is required to subscribe to an oath that he takes it for his own especial benefit and not directly or indirectly for the use or benefit of any other person or persons and that he has not had the benefit of the homestead act heretofore, together with the fact that he is the head of a family or over the age of twenty-one years, and that he is a citizen of the United States, or has declared his intention to become such. He is required to commence his residence thereon within six months, and to continue until five years from the date of his entry, at which time he will, upon proof of residence and cultivation, receive a patent therefor. No specific amount of land is required to be cultivated, but it is generally held that in order to show good faith, at least ten acres should be broken and cultivated, but if a good reason can be shown why it has not been done, the lack of cultivation will not be fatal to the proof. The law farther provides that the party cannot be absent from the claim for a period of six months, at any one time, regardless of excuse. Two years from the expiration of the five years is given the party to make said proof, and if, at the expiration of said time, upon notice being given him from the local office, he does not, within thirty days of the date of said notice, furnish the required proof, his entry shall be canceled and has again become subject to entry. If a party taking a homestead does not comply with the law his entry may be contested. The contesting party alleges in an affidavit that the homesteading party has not complied with the law, and asks for a hearing. Notice is given the adverse party, and, if the facts alleged are proven, the entry is canceled by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, and the tract is again open to entry.
A Soldier's Homestead.--This provides for persons who served in the late rebellion. The time served in the army is credited as a part of the five years required to be spent upon the homestead, provided that the homesteader must reside one year on the tract homesteaded. It also provides that a soldier may file a homestead declaratory statement on a tract of land, which holds it as against any subsequent claimant for six months, but the party filing said declaratory statement must within six months appear and file his application and affidavit, and at the same time establish the fact that he was a soldier in the late rebellion. This may be done with a copy of his discharge, a certificate of the Adjutant General of the State in which he enlisted, or the affidavit of three disinterested witnesses stating the date of his enlistment, date of his discharge and the company and regiment in which he served. He must also establish the fact that he served in the army before he is allowed to file his homestead declaration. A homestead declaration is the only filing that can be made by power of attorney. If, for any reason, the party filing a homestead declaration desires to take another or different tract of land he may do so, instead of taking the tract upon which he filed his homestead declaration, but he cannot file but one homestead declaratory statement. The land office fees for filing a homestead declaratory statement is $2. Final proof on a soldier's homestead may be made at any time after the time resided upon the homestead, together with the time served in the army, makes five years, provided one year's residence has been made upon the land or at any time thereafter within seven years from the date of the application for the homestead. If the soldier be dead, his widow may take it in his stead and it does not deprive her of the privilege, if she has taken one before in her own name, and if she is dead or has married again it may be taken by his minor orphan children. If taken by the widow, the same requirement of residence and cultivation is made as would have been made of the soldier, if living; but, in the case of minor orphan children, the entry is made for them by their guardian duly appointed, and in that event cultivation only is required. The land office fees for initiating a homestead are for minimum land, that is, land that is sold by the Government at $1.25 per acre, $14 for a quarter-section, or $7 for eighty acres, and in double minimum, or land that is sold at $2.50 per acre, $18 for a quarter-section, which sum is required at the time the claim is taken, and, upon making final proof, a further fee of $4 for a quarter-section, or $2 for eighty acres, on minimum lands; and $8 for a quarter-section, or $4 for eighty acres, on double minimum lands.
Timber Claims.--Only one timber culture entry can be taken on each section. This class of entries can only be taken upon "prairie land, or land naturally devoid of timber." A person competent to take a homestead entry is also competent to take a timber culture entry, and the same facts are required to be sworn to in the affidavit accompanying the application. The law requires that five acres be broken within the first year; that it be cultivated the second year, and planted to forest trees, or planted with the seeds of forest trees, four feet apart each way, within the third year; and that a second five acres be broken the second year, cultivated the third year, and planted as in the first instance the fourth year, and that if the ten acres be kept in a growing condition a patent shall issue for the tract at the expiration of eight years, provided that not less than 675 trees be found in a growing condition at the expiration of that time. The fees of the Government are the same in timber culture entries as they are in homestead entries, except that there is no distinction made between minimum and double minimum lands. Timber culture entries are contested for non-compliance with the law the same as homesteads, but in timber culture contests, the contestant may file his application for the land with the affidavit of contest, and in this manner make it absolutely safe for himself; whereas in homesteads he can only make it safe by diligence in his appearance at the land office upon the receipt of the notice of its cancellation at the local land office from the General Land Office. Any party making a timber claim entry of 160 acres is required to break five acres of them one year from the date of entry. The following or second year said five acres must be actually cultivated to crops. The third year, the first five acres must be planted in timber, seeds, or cuttings, making, at the end of the fourth year, ten acres thus planted. Perfect good faith must be shown at all times by claimants. The timber must not only be planted, but must each year be protected and cultivated in such a manner as to promote its growth. A patent may be obtained for the land at the expiration of eight years from date of entry, upon showing that for said eight years the trees have been planted, protected and cultivated, as aforesaid, and that not less than 2,700 trees were planted on each acre, and at the time of making proof there shall be then growing at least 665 living trees to each acre. If at any time during the said eight years it shall be shown that the party has failed to comply with the terms of the law, the entry will be canceled. Under this law, good faith will require that if the trees, seeds or cuttings, are by any means destroyed one year, they must be replanted the next. A party will not be released from a continued attempt to promote the actual growth of timber or forest trees; a failure in this respect will subject the entry to cancellation. Only the planting of such trees, seeds or cuttings, as are properly denominated timber trees, or which are recognized as forest trees, will be considered a compliance with the law. Cottonwood is recognized as timber under the act. "All entries of less than one-quarter section shall be plowed, planted, cultivated and planted to trees, tree seeds or cuttings in the same manner and in the proportion hereinbefore provided for" in the 160-acre entry. The land office fee for an entry of more than eighty acres is $14; for one of eighty acres or less, $9. The law provides that in case the trees, seeds or cuttings shall be destroyed by grasshoppers, or by extreme and unusual drought, for any year or term of years, the time for planting such trees, seed, or cuttings shall be extended one year for every such year that they are so destroyed.
It is not within the province of this work to describe the various and constantly varying conditions under which lands are subject to homestead or pre-emption entry. Those who desire such knowledge can obtain it by applying to the Register of the United States Land Office at either of the several offices in the State.
From Prof. Wilber's recent work, "Nebraska and the Northwest" these facts are taken:
There were surveyed during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1880, 15,699,253 acres of public lands, and 65,215 acres of private land claims. The great increase is attributed to the operation of the act of March 31, 1879, which led to a great increase in the number of applications by private individuals for public survey.
Disposals of public lands daring the year: Cash entries, 850,700 acres; homestead entries, 6,045,570 acres; timber culture entries, 2,193,184 acres; agricultural series, 1,280 acres; locations with military boundary land warrants, 88,522 acres; swamp lands patented to States, 757,888 acres; lands certified for railroad purposes, 1,157,375 acres. The total area of public lands surveyed from the beginning of surveying operations up to the close of last year is shown to be 752,558,195 acres, leaving the estimated area yet unsurveyed of 1,062,231,727 acres.