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1st Session

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No. 536

CREATING A JOINT COMMITTEE ON LOBBYING

ACTIVITIES

May 16, 1949.—Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be printed

Mr. SABATH, from the Committee on Rules, submitted the following

REPORT

(To accompany H. J. Res. 1961

The Committee on Rules, having had under consideration House Joint Resolution 196, report the same to the House with the recommendation that the resolution do pass, with the following amendments:

Page 3, strike out lines 3 to 6 inclusive, and insert in lieu thereof the following language:

(1) To make a full and complete investigation of all lobbying activities intended to influence, encourage, promote or retard legislation.

(2) To make a full' and complete investigation of all activities of agencies of the Federal Government intended to influence. encourage, promote. or retard Page 3, line 7, strike out “(2)” and insert in lieu thereof “(3)”.

O

legislation

AUTHORIZING THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR TO ISSUE TO L. J. HAND A PATENT IN FEE TO CERTAIN LANDS IN THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

May 16, 1949.—Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and ordered to

be printed

Mr. PETERSON, from the Committee on Public Lands, submitted the

following

REPORT

(To accompany H. R. 4261)

The Committee on Public Lands, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 4261), authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to issue to L. J. Hand a patent in fee to certain lands in the State of Mississippi, having considered the same, report favorably thereon without amend ment and recommend that the bill do pass.

EXPLANATION OF THE BILL

The purpose of the bill is to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to issue a patent in fee to L. J. Hand for 79.87 acres of land in Holmes County, Miss., thus correcting a conflict in records of the Bureau of Land Management and the records of the local land office at Jackson. Miss., which certified that the said land had been entered from the United States by Charles T Murphy on November 11, 1856, as shown by the book of Entries of Land in Holmes County, Miss., under the certificate of register of the said Federal Jackson Land Office dated

June 20, 1870.

L. J. Hand, the present owner of the land, and the proposed patentee, and the predecessors through whom he claim.s title have owned. possessed, and cultivated the said land and paid the taxes thereon for almost 100 years. On February 3, 1949, the Bureau of Land Management wrote to Mr. Hand that the records indicated that the said land was vacant and suggested that he might perfect his title under the Color of Title Act of December 22, 1928.

Mr. Hand, the owner, thereupon furnished to the Bureau of Land Management an abstract of the title to the said land as disclosed by

the records of Holmes County, Miss., certified to by D. T. Ruff

, attorney at law, on April 12, 1949, showing that the said land as disclosed by the entry book had been entered by Charles T. Murphy on November 11, 1856, with the number of the receipt and certificate of purchase being 33,333, and further showing that the said Charles T. Murphy conveyed the said land to H. J. Clark on the 21st day of February in 1859 as shown by deed recorded in book O, page 87, and further showing that L. J. Hand and those through whom he claims trace the title to the said entry as aforesaid by Charles T. Murphy in 1856, and further showing that the said land is a part of a farm containing other land owned by the said L. J. Hand. He also furnished the Bureau of Land Management with a certificate from the chancery clerk showing the said entry by the said Charles T. Murphy at 25 cents an acre in 1856 as certified by the Federal Land Office at Jackson, Miss., and with affidavits of adverse possession by Ed Tate and N. M. Parkinson showing that they had been familiar with the said lands for more than 50 years, and that the said L. J. Hand and those through whom he claims have been in the actual adverse possession of the said lands for the past 60 and 45 years, and that in their opinion the said land is not worth over $1.25 an acre, some of the land having been formerly cultivated and the timber having been cut from the said land. He also furnished the Bureau of Land Management with the certificate of the said chancery clerk showing that through the years the said land had been regularly assessed and had been conveyed, beginning by Charles T. Murphy in 1859 down to the present owner, the said L. J. Hand. Mr. Hand also furnished to the Bureau of Land Management a certified copy of the deed from G. D. Thornton to E. E. Raper and a certified copy of the deed from E. E. Raper to L. J. Hand covering the said land and other lands consisting of a farm of which the said lands are a part.

As disclosed by the hearings, the said abstract of title, the said certificates, and the said certified copies of deeds were furnished by the Bureau of Land Management to the Committee on Public Lands, and made a part of the hearings and they show unquestionably that the title of the said land was in the said L. J. Hand. The bill was referred to the Department of the Interior and on May 3, 1949, the following report was submitted which is made a part of this report as follows:

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,

Washington 25, D. C., May 3, 1949. Hon. J. HARDIN PETERSON, Chairman, Committee on Public Lands,

Ilouse of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. PETERSON: Reference is made to your request for a report on H. R. 4261, authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to issue to L. J. Hand a patent in fee to certain lands in the State of Mississippi.

If amended as hereinafter suggested, I recommend that the bill be enacted.

H. R. 4261 would direct the Secretary of the Interior to issue to L. J. Hand a patent in fee for the SW34EW74, sec. 30, NWY4NW%, sec. 31, T. 15 N., R. 4 E., Choctaw Meridian, Holmes County, Miss., such patent to convey the interests of the United States only, and not to affect the adverse rights, if any, of third parties.

Mr. Hand's claim apparently is founded upon a certificate of purchase, Jackson, Miss., No. 33,333, alleged to have been issued to Charles T. Murphy on November 11, 1856, and recorded in the land records of Holmes County, Miss.

Although the records of the Bureau of Land Management, this Department, show this land to be vacant unentered public land of the United States, old

records of the General Land Office, namely, local office tract books for Choctaw Meridian, Miss., volumes 51 and 68, now on file in the National Archives, do contain a notation of such a certificate issued to Charles (T.) Murphy, which notation was subsequently dropped for reasons not now apparent. It seems, however, that the land in question has been occupied by Mr. Hand or his predecessors in interest, and taxes have been paid thereon for many years.

The Color of Title Act (43 U. S. C. sec. 1068) was enacted to take care of situ&tions similar to the present case. Under that act, persons occupying public lands under color of title, upon which improvements have been placed or some part of which has been reduced to cultivation, may apply to purchase the land at a reasonable price, considering their equities. Patents issued under that act would contain a reservation of minerals, including oil and gas, to the United States.

Mr. Hand is either unwilling or unable to comply with the requirements of the Color of Title Act. No reason appears why the basic principles of that act should not be adapted to the relief legislation proposed in H. Ř. 4261. Since Mr. Hand's title is founded upon a claim antedating the period when the Government required reservations of minerals in disposing of land under private entries, no objection will be made to the issuance of a patent in fee, without reservation of minerals to the United States. He should, however, be required to furnish satisfactory evidence of his right to possession or ownership of the land involved, together with a disclosure of adverse claimants, if any. Furthermore, he should pay the nominal amount of $50 for the land as consideration therefor and to defray the administrative costs of issuance of patent. Such flat fee payment would obviate the necessity for and the delays incident to field examination and appraisal of the land.

In accordance with the foregoing, it is recommended that H. R. 4261 be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting the following:

"That the Secretary of the Interior. upon the submission of satisfactory evidence that L. J. Hand is equitably entitled to a patent for the land hereinafter described, and upon the payment of $50 as consideration therefor, is hereby authorized to issue to said L. J. Hand a patent in fee to the following-described land, to wit: The southwest quarter of the southwest quarter, section 30, and the northwest quarter of the northwest quarter, section 31, township 15 north, range 4 east, Choctaw Meridian, Holmes County, Mississippi, containing seventy-nine and eighty-seven one-hundredths acres, more or less.

Since your committee desires to hold an immediate hearing on this bill, this report has not been submitted to the Bureau of the Budget, and I am, at present, unable to advise you concerning its relationship to the program of the President. Sincerely yours.

Oscar L. CHAPMAN,

Under Secretary of the Interior. As disclosed by the hearings, Mr. Hand and those through whom he claims have paid the taxes on the said lands since 1856. As further disclosed by the hearings, the said land is assessed at $1 an acre. The land is of little value and, as is disclosed by the hearings, all of the timber has been cut. None of the land is in cultivation although some was formerly cleared and cultivated. There are no mineral rights involved. It was acquired by the present owner and those through whom he claims long prior to the Color of Title Act. While the Secretary suggested an amendment so as to require Mr. Hand to pay a nominal amount of $50, inasmuch as the report of the Secretary of the Interior showed that under the Color of Title Act the Government would retain the mineral rights, and inasmuch as the present owner and those through whom he claims were the owners of the land, and inasmuch as they had relied upon the certificate of the Federal Land Office at Jackson showing that the said land had been entered by the said Charles T. Murphy, the committee felt that the bill should be reported without amendment, and that the present owner, Mr. Hand, should not be required to pay the sum of $50 or any other amount. The bill is in the exact language of Private 352, Eightieth Congress, covering 72% acres of land located in the same county ap

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