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Re: Mckee land purchases in Indiana County of Origin
Posted by: terrence donahue (ID *****8849) Date: June 09, 2004 at 15:06:13
In Reply to: Re: Mckee land purchases in Indiana County of Origin by Julie Meirndorf of 5279

There are no listings that I could find showing land records from Homestead or Timber Acts. The Bureau of Land Management doesn`t post them and says you have to go to individual state. I am listing a link for a website that discusses Homestead and Timber Acts:
Here is a small section of it discussing The Timber Culture Act of 1873:

This act was designed to promote tree-planting in the treeless areas of the West. Of all the land laws affecting Nebraska, the Timber Culture Act was perhaps the least successful and subject to many abuses. The author of the act was U.S. Senator Phineas W. Hitchcock of Nebraska. The Timber Culture Act was repealed in March, 1891.

Requirements for filing a Timber Culture entry

Originally, a timber claim could be filed by anyone. In 1874, the act was amended to require claimants to meet the same age and citizenship qualifications as the pre-emption and homestead acts. Not more than 160 acres could be claimed. Later amendments to the law made it possible for the total acres claimed to be in several smaller tracts as long as the aggregate did not exceed 160 acres. Timber claims did not require residence on the land. No more than one 160 acre timber claim was permitted in each section.

The original law provided for the planting of forty acres of trees on each 160 acres. This requirement was later reduced to ten acres, to be planted according to the following guidelines: When 160 acres were claimed, at least five acres were to be plowed during the first year. During the second year, this plowed acreage was to be cultivated and a second five acres plowed. In the third year, the initial five acres was planted to trees and the second five acres cultivated. The fourth year required the planting of trees on the second five acres, making a total of ten acres in trees. Not less than 2,700 trees were to be planted on each of the ten acres, or a total of 27,000 trees! If less than 160 acres were claimed, the acreage of trees was reduced proportionately. Non-compliance with the tree planting procedures made the timber claim subject to cancellation after one year. Certain exceptions or extensions were allowed in the event of destruction of the plantings by grasshoppers or the failure of seeds or cuttings to germinate.

Timber Culture Proofs - At the end of eight years from the date of entry, the settler could make final proof if the necessary conditions had been fulfilled. Five additional years were allowed to make proof, or a total of thirteen years from the date of entry. The claimant had to prove the trees had been planted and cultivated and that not less than 675 living trees per acre had survived. An affidavit or "timber culture proof" had to be completed by the claimant and two witnesses. Such proofs provided less personal information than did homestead or preemption proofs and more details about the planting and cultivation of the trees required under the act. Final certificate and patents were issued as they were under the other land laws.


All claims under the Homestead, Preemption and Timber Culture Acts were subject to relinquishment: that is, the claimant gave up any claim to the land which then reverted to the government, subject to further entry. It was illegal to speculate in public lands by filing a claim only for the purpose of relinquishing the tract to another person in return for payment. Despite this prohibition, the relinquishment proviso offered many opportunities for abuse and fraud. Numerous individuals claimed land without any intention to "prove up" and held it in order to "sell a relinquishment" to a second claimant. Often, the local real estate agent would act as the middleman in such transactions by placing prospective settlers in contact with the speculator. The land agent himself probably was involved in the speculative scheme.

In order to avoid an overt violation of the law against claiming public lands for speculative purposes, the speculator would offer to sell the improvements on the tract (if any), such as a well, or a house, to the new settler. Once the money had changed hands, the claim would be relinquished at the land office and filed on immediately by the other party. The laws against speculation in public lands, as well as many other provisions of the federal land laws, were almost impossible to enforce.
You may have to check state records in Kansas or Nebraska to find anything.

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