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I am impressed with the conviction that it is neither in harmony with the spirit or intent of the laws of Congress, nor with true public policy, to sanction the indiscriminate absorption of the lands in what has heretofore been known as the reserved mineral belt in the public domain, under laws only applicable to lands clearly non-mineral, simply because the deputy surveyors failed to return the same as mineral in character. This view is strengthened by the fact that very many, in fact the majority, of the applications for mineral patents are found, upon consulting our official township plats, to be within subdivisions not reported as mineral in character.

In many of the hearings had before the local officers to determine the true character of these tracts, the testimony shows conclusively that of a whole quarter or halfquarter section sought to be entered under the pre-emption law, the only portion really agricultural in character is confined to two or three acres upon which the pre-emption party has a house and garden, the agricultural utility of the remainder consisting in its adaptability to grazing cattle.

The mere fact that an individual uses one of these isolated garden spots, situate in an imperfectly developed mineral region, as a homestead or ranch, does not, it is thought, invest him with an equitable right to a Government title to an entire quarter section of land, the real mineral character of which has not yet been tested, or, at all events, not sufficiently to enable parties to tell with any certainty whether the land contains valuable mines or not.

The Government is not in such haste to divest itself of its title to the lands situate within the heretofore reserved mineral region, as to grant them away by wholesale as agricultural lands, before they have been sufficiently explored to determine their true character.

Such policy would result in the exclusion of other citizens of the United States who might desire to exercise their legal right to explore and occupy mineral lands in the public domain.

When a bona fide agricultural claimant desires the segregation of the ground containing his improvements from the adjoining mineral land, he can have the same effected under existing circular instructions.

From the fact that but few of these pre-emption claimants seem disposed to avail themselves of the privilege of this segregation, the inference is that in many cases it is not so much on account of the agricultural value of the tract as of its probable mineral deposits that title is desired.

Speaking of Nevada County, California, J. Ross Browne, in his official report made March 5, 1863, to the Secretary of the Treasury, says:

Its length, from east to west, is about sixty-five miles, having an average breadth of twenty, and containing about one thousand three hundred square miles. It is near the middle of the great gold region that stretches along the westerly slope of the mountain chain, extends entirely across the auriferous belt, and in the last nineteen years has produced more gold than any tract of country of equal extent in the world." Referring to the extent of the placer mines in said county, this report states: "The product of the placer mines of Nevada County has neither materially increased nor diminished since 1850, and though they have been worked without interruption for nineteen years, the developments of that period have barely been sufficient to give us an idea of their vast extent. The shallow diggings which were so easily worked and afforded such large returns to the early miners are mostly exhausted; but the deep placers, or hill diggings, in the channels of ancient streams, in many places underlying hundreds of feet of alluvial deposits and volcanic material, cannot be exhausted for a long period of time. In fact, for all practical purposes, they may be considered as inexhaustible."

Again, on page 127 of said report, it is stated:

"No estimate approaching to accuracy can be made of the amount of gold contained in the placer mines of this county, and which yet may be brought forth for the benefit of the civilized world. To say that it is enough to pay off the national debt would be a moderate estimate, and it is not improbable that in some of these deep placers deposits of gold may yet be found in such quantities as will materially diminish the value of the metal."

The same work gives exhaustive statistics of the extent and value of the goldbearing quartz ledges in said county, those in the Grass Valley mining district being described as the most valuable in California.

Township 16 north, range 8 east, Mount Diablo meridian, embraces the towns of Grass Valley, Gold Hill, and part of Nevada City, all in the very heart of this rich mining region, and yet, upon inspecting the official plat of said township, approved by the surveyor general August 24, 1867, it is found that no particular portions of the landl are returned as mineral and segregated from the agricultural portion, as required by the law and instructions. Since the survey and return of said township, numerous contests have arisen between miners and pre-emption claimants as regards the character of the land, and several applications have been made and titles issued for mines therein, no intimation of the existence of which was given, however, upon the official

plat of said township aforesaid; for instance, the celebrated Eureka gold quartz claim, reported by J. Ross Browne to have been worked since 1851, and to be "the most valuable gold mine in the county, or perhaps in the world," yielding about $49,000 per month, is situate in the northeast quarter of section 23 of said township, which said tract is not shown by the plat aforesaid to contain any mineral land or claim whatever.

The widely known Ophic Hill, or Empire mine, near the town of Grass Valley, is in section 35 of said township. This mine has been worked since the year 1852, has had $250,000 expended in improvements thereon, and is reported to have yielded nearly $2,000,000 in gold; yet said plat gives not the slightest indication that there is any such mine in existence, or that the subdivision in which it lies is other than agricultural land.

Numerous other cases of this kind could be cited, not only in Nevada, but in other of the mining counties, of tracts being returned agricultural in character, while, as was subsequently shown, there were valuable ruines thereon in active operation at the time the survey was made.

Again, in some of the township plats, crtain of the subdivisions are shaded yellow, and designated "mineral land," the remainder being designated agricultural land.” Inspecting some of these plats, it is found that within these "agricultural" tracts are marked quartz ledges," placer mines," "hydraulic mines," &c., the plat thus contradicting itself.

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Prior to the 26th of July, 1866, the date of the passage of the mining statute, this mineral region had been excluded from survey and sale by the laws of Congress. Under the tenth section of said statute it is provided

"That wherever, prior to the passage of this act, upon the lands heretofore designated as mineral lands, which have been excluded from survey and sale, there have been homesteads made by citizens of the United States or persons who have declared their intention to become citizens, which homesteads have been made, improved, and used for agricultural purposes, and upon which there have been no valuable mines of gold, silver, cinnabar, or copper discovered, and which are properly agricultural lands, the said settlers or owners of such homesteads shall have a right of pre-emption thereto, and shall be entitled to purchase the same at the price of one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, and in quantity not to exceed one hundred and sixty acres, or the said parties may avail themselves of the provisions of the act of Congress approved May twenty, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, entitled 'An act to secure homesteads to actual settlers on the public domain,' and acts amendatory thereof."

The eleventh section of said mining statute provides

"That upon the survey of the lands aforesaid, the Secretary of the Interior may designate and set apart such portions of the said lands as are clearly agricultural lands, which lands shall thereafter be subject to pre-emption and sale, as other public lands of the United States, and subject to all the laws and regulations applicable to the same."

From the indefinite nature of the returns made by the deputy surveyors, the impracticability of carrying into effect this eleventh section becomes at once apparent, experience having shown that little reliance is to be placed upon these plats in determining the true character of the land.

To set apart the lands clearly agricultural," from such data, partakes more of the nature of guess work than anything else for the reason, as has been set forth, that some of the lands containing valuable mines are not returned as mineral.

Public considerations of a high character, therefore, induce me to ask authority for withdrawing from disposal as agricultural lands snch townships or parts of townships, in this region, as may reasonably be presumed from common report, from official and other data, to be properly classed as mineral lands, and that no entries thereof be permitted except by legally qualified citizens holding mineral claims, in accordance with the mining statute, except in cases where the agricultural character shall first be established by competent testimony, in accordance with existing regulations applicable to the subject.

L'am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant.

Hon. COLUMBUS DILANO,

WILLIS DRUMMOND,

Commissioner.

Secretary of the Interior.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washinton, D. C., November 24, 1871.

SIR: In reply to your letter of this date, riques ng authority to withdraw from disposal as agricultural lands certain townships or parts of townships in the mineral re

gion, which have been surveyed and returned as agricultural land, but which are believed to be mineral in character, I have to state that, upon an examination of the subject, I fully concur in your views, and you are hereby authorized to make the necessary withdrawal, and to instruct the local officers not to permit any of the tracts which may be withdrawn to be entered as agricultural land, unless the non-mineral character of the same shall have been first fully and clearly established by competent testimony. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, C. DELANO, Secretary.

Hon. WILLIS DRUMMOND,

Commissioner of the General Land Office.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, GENERAL LAND OFFICE, Washington, D. C., December 2, 1871. GENTMMEN: Under the authority of the honorable Secretary of the Interior, you are hereby directed to withhold the lands in the following designated townships in your district from disposal under laws only applicable to agricultural land, until the nonmineral character of the same shall have first been satisfactorily established at a hearing to be had before you after due notice in manner set forth in circular herewith of date the 6th May, 1871. This course has been forced upon the Department by several circumstances, among which may be cited the fact that the majority of applications for mining titles from California are for lands marked "agricultural" upon the official township plats; that in making these returns of surveys large areas in the heretofore reserved mineral belt are marked on the plats as "agricultural lands," while upon the same plats, and within the tracts so returned as agricultural, are annotations of " quartz ledges," "mining ditches," "hydraulic mines," diggings," &c., the plat thus contradicting itself and leaving this office ignorant as to the true quality of the land.

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In a case now pending before this office of an application for patent for a quicksilver mine, one which has been worked for years, it is found that the land was returned as agricultural, and falling within the limits of the grant, was patented to the Western Pacific Railroad Company before said application was received.

Experience having shown that this office cannot with any degree of safety judge of the character of these lands from the data furnished by such returns, and there being no authority of law for the employment of a competent geologist to investigate the matter, the head of the Department has, in consideration of the public interests, and to prevent the indiscriminate absorption of the mineral lands of the public domain through the instrumentality of insufficient returns, found it imperatively necessary to adopt the course herein announced, both for the protection of the parties who have already expended time, capital, and labor in opening and developing mines, and those of the citizens of the United States who may hereafter desire to exercise their legal right to do so.

The following designated townships within your district come within this order, viz: Township 1 north, ranges 12, 13, and 14 east.

Township 2 north, ranges 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 east.

Township 3 north, ranges 10, 11, 12, and 13 east.
Township 4 north, ranges 10, 11, 12, and 13 east.
Township 5 north, ranges 10, 11, and 12 east.
Township 6 north, ranges 10, 11, 12, and 13 east.
Township 7 north, ranges 9, 10, 11, and 12 east.
Township & north, ranges 9, 10, 11, and 12 east.
Township 9 north, ranges 9, 10, 11, and 12 east.
Township 10 north, ranges 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 east.
Township 11 north, ranges 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 east.
Township 12 north, ranges 6,7,8,9, 10, and 11 east.
Township 13 north, ranges 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 east.
Township 14 north, ranges 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 east.
Township 15 north, ranges 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 east.

Township 16 north, ranges 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, and 17 east.

Township 17 north, ranges 16 and 17 east.

Township 18 north, ranges 16 and 17 east.

Township 19 north, ranges 16 and 17 east; all Mount Diablo base and meridian.
You will at once acknowledge the receipt hereof, and be governed accordingly.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Legister and RECEIVER,

Sacramento, California.

WILLIS DRUMMOND,

Commissioner.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, GENERAL LAND OFFICE, Washington, D. C., December 7, 1871. GENTLEMEN: Under authority of the honorable Secretary of the Interior, you are hereby directed to withhold from disposal as agricultural the lands in the following designated townships in your district, until the non-mineral character of the same shall have first been established at a hearing to be had before you after due notice in the manner set forth in the accompanying circular instructions of May 6, 1571. This course has been forced upon the Department by several circumstances, among which may be cited the fact that the majority of applications for mining titles from California are for lands not marked “mineral" upon the official township plats; that in making these returns of surveys, large areas in the heretofore reserved mineral belt are marked upon the plats as "agricultural lands," while upon the same plats, and within the tracts so returned as agricultural land are annotations of quartz ledges," "mining ditches," "hydraulic mines," "diggings," &c., the plat thus contradicting itself and leaving this office in ignorance as to the true quality of the land.

In a case now pending before this office of an application for patent for a quicksilver mine which has been worked for years, it is found that the surveyor failed to mark the land as mineral, and the tract falling within the grant was patented to the Western Pacific Railroad Company, before said application was received.

Experience having shown that this office cannot with any degree of safety judge of the character of these lands, whether mineral or agriculture, from the data furnished by such returns, and there being no authority of law for the employment of a competent geolegist to investigate the matter, the head of the Department has, in consideration of the public interests, and to prevent the indiscriminate absorption of the mineral lands of the public domain through the instrumentality of insufficient returns, found it imperatively necessary to adopt the course herein announced, both for the protection of those who have already expanded time, capital, and labor in opening and developing these mines, and citizens who may hereafter desire to exercise their legal right to do so.

The following designat, d townships in your district come within this opler, an 1 von will treat the same as if returned as micetal lands until the non-i latid' character as disproved, unless otherwise directed by this office, viz:

Township 1 nortà, ranes 11, 12, 13, 14, and 13 cast.
Township 2 north, ranges 11, 12, 13, 14, aval 15 cast.

Township 3 noita, ranges 10, 11, 12, and 13 cast.

Township 1 scnth, rares 12 and 14 cast.

Township 4 south, range 16 cast.

Township 3 souch, ranges 16 and 17 east.

Township 6 south, range 15 cast.

Township 7 south, ranges 17 and 18 cast.

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Towrsnp 10 south, ranges 90 and 22,cast.

Township 11 south, ranges 22 and 23 cast; all Marti „allon ei. Tai

Please acknowledge recept hereof as “ N.”

Very respecttely,

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Township 21 north, ranges 3 and 4 east.

Township 22 north, range 3 east.

Township 23 north, range 3 east.

Township 24 north, range 4 east; all Mount Diablo meridian.

Please to acknowledge the receipt hereof at once as "N."
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

REGISTER AND RECEIVER,

Marysville, California.

WILLIS DRUMMOND,

Commissioner.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, GENERAL LAND OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., March 11, 1872.

SIR: In a communication to you of 24th November last, this office submitted a states ment as to the prevailing mode of disposing of lands in the mineral regions of the United States, which, prior to the date of the mining act of 26th July, 1866, had been carefully reserved by Congress from survey and sale, and after reciting the leading facts ato the inadequate protection of the public interests in these lands, in view of the uncertain character of the returns made by surveyors, requested authority for suspending the disposal of certain lands as agricultural in character until competent proof was furnished that the same were non-mineral.

On the same date you gave this office the necessary authority to make such suspension and to instruct the local land officers not to permit the agricultural entry of any tract so withdrawn until its non-mineral character is first shown by competent testimony.

This office accordingly suspended for non-mineral proof a number of townships within what is commonly known as the "mineral belt" in California, and also a number in the Central City land district, in Colorado Territory.

This action has created much acrimonious discussion, pro and con, especially in California; the newspapers in some cases totally misapprehending, as it would appear, the real meaning and object intended to be conveyed and effected by the order, by regarding it in the light of a suspension of the lands in question from settlement, and a denial in toto of the right of any settler to secure title to any tract whatever within the suspended townships, omitting, however, to explain that upon making proof of the nonmineral character of any tract so suspended, the settlers' rights would be fully recognized.

Other journals, especially those published in the mining districts, where the real question at issue is more thoroughly understood, readily admitted the propriety of the order, at the same time regretting the additional expense necessarily incurred by bona fide agricultural claimants in establishing the non-mineral character of their claims. The Hon. A. A. Sargent, member of Congress from California, has referred to this office several letters from constituents of his in the mining counties, complaining of the additional expense and delay to which they are subjected by reason of being required to prove that their lands are not mineral before being allowed to receive patents therefor, and asking a revocation of the order requiring such proof where the land claimed is not returned by the surveyor as mineral, or upon which affidavits have not been filed alleging the same to be mineral in character.

Mr. Sargent fully indorses such request, and recommends that said orders be rescinded, holding that by the system of mineral affidavits all known mineral lands are declared to be such; to all of which this office has given that careful and respectful consideration demanded by the importance and magnitude of the interests involved. Congress has from its earliest legislation in reference to public lands made a distinction between lands which are mineral and those which are not, and this distinction has invariably been enforced in every public land law enacted by that body up to the present time, and so long as the legislative branch of the Government sees fit and proper to specially make such distinction, the executive has before it the plain duty of enforcing the same, and is without power under the law to waive it.

As recited in my previons communication to you upon this subject, the law of Congress approved July 26, 1866, provides, among other things, for the extension of the public surveys to this reserved mineral region, recognizes homestead and pre-emption rights to lands therein not mineral, and requires the Secretary of the Interior to set apart such portions as are "clearly agricultural," to be thereafter subject to disposal as other lands of that class. It is clear from the language of this statute that Congress did not intend to abolish or do away with the distinction between mineral and agricultural lands, or to allow mineral lands to be classed and disposed of as agricultural; but it simply provided that the public surveys might be extended over a region that

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