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Oregon & California R. Co v. United States No. 1, 189 U.S. 103 (1903)

Oregon and California Railroad Company v. United States No. 1

No. 186

Argued March 4, 1903

Decided April 6, 1903

189 U.S. 103


In a suit brought under the Act of Congress of March 3, 1887, c. 376, to compel the reconveyance of lands covered by patent issued February 20, 1893, on the ground that it included land to which there were adverse claims of settlers to the land on which they respectively resided and which the United States now claimed for them, Held:

(1) That, under the land grant acts, the railroad company did not acquire and could not have acquired an interest in specific sections of land within the indemnity limits specified in the grant before their actual and approved selection under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, prior to the date of occupancy by the respective settlers.

(2) No right of the railroad company attaches or can attach to specific lands within indemnity limits until there is a selection under the direction or with the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.

(3) The rights which bona fide occupancy gave to the settler under the act of 1866 are not defeated by a mere selection afterwards of the land by the railroad company -- the settler having, after the lands were surveyed, promptly taken the necessary steps to protect his rights under the homestead law. In such case, the entry made under these laws relates back to the date of the settlement of the lands.

(4) It cannot be claimed that all the lands within the indemnity limits were required to supply deficits when there had been no adjustment and determination of the amount of lieu lands required prior to his bona fide occupancy of the land.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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