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addressed to a court or board of commissioners, when preparing the decree of confirmation. But in this case, the Surveyor-General is called on to execute a decree which has been made. That decree confirms the claim by boundaries, and then refers to the grant and map for further description. The Surveyor-General construes the decree and map and grant together, and harmonizes them. He is not at liberty to place a construction on the original grant and map, which is hostile to that which the Board of Land Commissioners adopted and embodied in their decree. If the terms of the decree of confirmation restricted their claim to less land than has been granted, they should have sought a reversal of the decree. We are not at liberty so to construe it as to render its plainest directions inoperative, and its plainest words unmeaning. The decree has confirmed the claim by boundaries, although the grant was not by boundaries; and has declared that the land, of which confirmation is made, is bounded as follows :- “Beginning at the back side of the principal house on said rancho, standing at the foot of the hill, and running thence northwardly to a lone tree on the top of the sierra, (which tree is known as a landmark;) thence east along the sierra to the line of the land known as the rancho of José Maria Alvisa; thence southerly along the west line of said Alvisa's rancho till it intersects the Arroyo de la Penitencia; thence up said Arroyo to an estuary, (estero,) and from this point to the place of beginning," * * * * " reference to be had for more particular description, to the expediente and map constituting a part of the same, which are on file in this case.”
By this language, a lone tree is made a corner of the land. We are to begin at the house, and go to the tree. There we change the course by something near a right angle, and proceed along a ridge or “ sierra,” to the land of Alvisa. Now should the surveyor, having reached the tree from the house, proceed on in the same direction beyond the tree, as claimed by the attorneys for the confirmees, instead of an angle of about ninety degrees at the tree, he would pass that object on a straight line; instead of following a sierra, after passing the tree, he would descend into a plain and valley, and cross a small river; and however far he might go in that direction, he would not reach the lands of Alvisa. The boundaries named in the decree would be departed from entirely, and the survey could not be closed according to them.
That the “lone tree" named in the decree, and the evidence on which the decree is based, has been found, seems to be conceded. That tree is on the top of a ridge, that ridge runs in a course nearly perpendicular to the course from the house to the tree, and by following it you reach the lands of Alvisa. The ridge on which that tree stands, therefore, is determined to be the sierra, which is made, by the decree, the eastern boundary of the land,--the courses as named in the decree, being all revolved to correspond with the true points of the compass, as now ascertained. By closing the survey with that ridge as the east line of the rancho, the proportions of the plat, and shape of the confirmed tract, are found to correspond with the map which is attached to the expediente.
It may be appropriately said, also, that the desiño, with the exception of the points of the compass, appears to be unusually accurate. The “Penitencia" creek, the estero, the Arroyo de Monte Telos coches, are correctly laid down and marked. The Calero creek is also indicated but not named, The “lone tree” in the chemisal, is found in the proper corner of the desiño, the houses, the lake, the vineyard, the high grounds within the survey, are not inaptly delineated in corresponding
portions of the desifio. The claimants, however, demand the inclusion of the Calaveras plain and valley. If this is represented on the desiño, the map which, by all other marks, is evidenced to be very accurate as a delineation of the land, would become immediately most imperfect, untrue and deceptive. Small objects would show prominently, and assume positions and magnitudes relatively incongruous, whilst a large space of country in the east of the rancho would be scarcely represented at all. Looking at the proportions of the desiño, and recalling the actual extent and width of the Calaveras plain and valley, and the size of the stream flowing through that valley, I could not regard that valley as delineated on the map. The grant is very general, and rather indefinite in its description of the land, and we, of necessity, therefore, rely on the boundaries given in the decree, and the desiño. These are well satisfied by the lines which the Surveyor-General has marked. He has examined the locality in person, and is fully satisfied, that he reports the true boundaries of the rancho. I do not see how any other lines could close so well with all the calls of the decree of confirmation if run so as to cross the Calaveras valley.
I therefore return the papers in the case, for the course of action which your office has proposed.
J. THOMPSON, Secretary. Commissioner of the General Land Office.
No. 661. 1. The decree in the case of the “Pinole" claimants, is a confirmation of
land by quantity within boundaries, and not a confirmation by bounda
ries. 2. Where the exterior boundaries for location are described as "thence to
the Cañada del Hambre, and from thence to the straits,” the valley land of the Cañada, is not taken within the limits. The limit of location in that direction is the line formed by the hills or bluffs with the land of the
valley. 3. Where land has been granted by the Mexican authorities, and the grant
has been confirmed by the United States Courts, the Department will not be justified in giving such a construction and location to two older and preferred claims, as to shut out the location of such grant, when other constructions and locations of the preferred claims are equally just and
proper. 4. “Pinole,” “Del Hambre," "Las Juntas."
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, August 10, 1859. Sir:- I have considered your report of the 19th August, 1858, submitting a communication of the Surveyor-General of California, of the 19th February preceding, in the matter of the location of the confirmed California land claims, known as Pinole, Las Juntas, and Del Hambre. The Surveyor-General has submitted these cases for advice, accompanied by a diagram of the locations he proposes. On his instructions to his deputy, on his views as communicated in the letter of 19th February, and on the opinions expressed in your report, several questions arise which are of essential importance to the claimants, and persons holding their titles, and also to the United States.
Without stating the respective claims set up by the numerous conflicting interests involved, I will proceed to state my conclusions, so far as, in the present state of the proceedings of the Surveyor-General, seems to
Firstly. I am of the opinion that the effect of the decree of confirmation, in the Pinole case, is to restrict the claimants to four square leagues for quantity, and this quantity is to be set off within the boundaries mentioned in the grant and decree according to the general regulations respecting the location of quantity within boundaries containing an area greater than the quantity confirmed.
The decree of the court, in the case of the Pinole claim, is rather brief and informal. It is therein “adjudged by the board, that the claim herein is valid, and decree a confirmation of the grant to the several claimants in the amended petition mentioned, agreeably to their respective rights of the ranche, called Pinole, situate in the county of Contra Costa, and described as follows: commencing at the mouth of the Cañada del Pinole, easterly with the same, until it adjoins the Correl de Galindo, from thence to the Cañada del Hambre, and from thence to the Straits of Karquinez, the Bola de la Cañada, of said Pinole, emptying into the Bay of San Francisco, reference for further description being had to the map attached to the expe diente, and the deposition of W. A. Richardson, on file in this case."
This decree, it is claimed, gives a right to all the land within the boundaries mentioned, without restriction of quantity. But it is to be observed that the Board of Commissioners in this case, caused their opinion, as pronounced by S. B. Farwell, one of their number, to be filed on the same day and to be recorded in the same record book, in conjunction with their decree. By reference to that opinion, it is clear that they regarded the
claim,” which by their decree, they found to be valid, to be a claim for four square leagues. It is equally clear, that the “grant,” of which they decreed confirmation, they regarded as a grant for four leagues.
Another obvious remark is, that the general effect of this decree, is to confirm the grant set out in the expediente. On reference to the grant, we find that it was conditional; as follows, “the place known by the name of Pinole, its limits being,” &c., &c., (much as above,) “subject to the following conditions." “ Third, the land of which donation is made, is four square leagues, a little more or less."
" The judge who may give the possession, will have it measured in accordance with law, the surplus resulting, to remain to the nation,” &c. It is well settled that such conditions are controlling conditions of Mexican grants of this kind, and we therefore say, that the grant was for four square leagues. We regard the Board of Land Commissioners, in this decree, as having done what it was their special province to do; as having decided upon the validity of the claim, and awarded a confirmation of the grant. The claim was never made, it would appear, for a quantity greater than four square leagues. The original grantee, though an old soldier and old settler, in his petition for four leagues, to the Mexican officials, apologised for asking for that much. Before the Board of Commissioners, the claim was apparently treated on all hands as only a four league grant. The witness, Richardson, whose deposition is referred to by the decree, swears that there is four leagues, as near as possible, in the boundaries he describes. In this he was mistaken, but in this he shows that the claimants were then setting forth a four league grant, before the Board. I could not give such a construction to their decree, as to sanction the claimants in basing on it a new claim to a larger quantity, so long as the other construction of the decree was tenable, which limits the quantity to four leagues, as asked for, as granted, and as claimed before the Board of Commissioners.
The Las Juntas claim, has been confirmed for three square leagues, to be located, pursuant to the decree of confirmation. Its location is indicated in the decree as follows: “ The lands of which confirmation are
hereby made, are known by the name of Las Juntas, and are the same upon which the widow of the late William Welch, now resides, and are bounded as follows : to wit : on the east by the Arroyo de los Neuces, and lands of Dona Juana Sanchez, on the south by said Arroya, and lands of Lorenzo Pacheco, on the west by said Arroyo, and lands of Joaquin Moroja, and on the north by the Arroyo del Hambre, and lands of Ygnacio Martinez, containing in all three square leagues; reference for further description to be had to the map which is made a part of document marked' A, and filed in this case.'
In the grant, the Arroyo de los Neuces, “and that of El Hambre," are named as boundaries, without prejudice to adjacent claimants, one of whom is Ygnacio Martinez, claimant of Pinole.
The District Court of the United States, for the Northern District, has also confirmed the claim of Theodora Soto, reciting in its decree that "the land of which confirmation is made, is situated in the county of Contra Costa, and is known by the name of Cañada del Hambre y' Las Bolsas, as granted to said claimant, by Governor Juan B. Alvarado, on the 14th December, 1841, and consists of so much of the land known at the date of said grant as the Cañada del Hambre, as shall remain overplus from the ranchos of Pinole and Mr. Welch, not to exceed three square leagues, after the latter shall have been duly located, and surveyed by the proper officers."
Looking back at all these cases together, it is to be remarked that the Pinole and Las Juntas, were the earliest settled and petitioned for. The Pinole, called for the “Cañada del Hambre,” as one of its external limits, and Las Juntas, for the “ Arroya del Hambre.” Yet the Del Hamb was first granted, subject to, or “of that which shall be left over from," the ranchos of Pinole and Mr. Welch.
The Mexican authorities in 1841, did find land between Pinole and the Welch grant, as overplus from their grants, or claims then incomplete, and granted of such overplus, a quantity lying between them, known as “ Cañada Del Hambre," and not to exceed three square leagues. The proper tribunals of the United States have confirmed that grant; and although Pinole may go for its location to the “Cañada Del Hambre," and Las Juntas may, in part, have the “ Arroyo Del Hambre” for a boundary, we are not at liberty to say that the two ranchos last named are coterminous to such an extent as to shut out a location of the Del Hambre.
And I think this was the better conclusion from all the facts in the cases. The Pinole, which by the grant and the desiño, filed before the board of Commissioners, would appear to have for its quantity of four leagues, two admitted and old established sides or bases, viz., the Pinole Cañada to the Ranch house or beyond and the Bay of Sonoma, might extend to the valley of the Del Hambre for its quantity, but had no right to go into that valley; its limits in that direction being the line found by the intersection of the hills with the level lands of the valley
The Las Juntas, according to its grant and desiño, was to have three leagues between the head waters of the Neuces, with the hills above them on the north, for a western limit, the Neuces as a limit on the south and east, and on the north the Arroyo Del Hambre, and lands of Pinole. Nature reveals a tract of land on the Straits of Corquinez, which neither of these desiños delineate; and it is this which has been confirmed to Soto, not to exceed in quantity three square leagues.
The Surveyor-General will therefore first give to the Pinole claimants a a location for four square leagues, within the region indicated by their desiño, excluding the Del Hambre valley.
Secondly. As to the Las Juntas. Within the highlands, the Ralies creek, and the Neuces as far as the estuary or outlet into the marshes, the Sur. veyor-General will have a region with three outline sides, within which he can properly locate the three leagues confirmed to the claimants in that
The two claims should be located independently of each other, and irrespective of the Del Hambre claim, excepting the recognition of the fact that it lies between these claims and the waters of the strait and marsh. After the proper quantities are surveyed according to the general instructions, within the exterior limits noted by the grants and maps in the two cases, the Del Hambre will be located so as to include Tedora Soto's ancient possessions, the Bolsas, and the Canada Del Hambre, if nowhere trenched upon by the location of Las Juntas, and not to exceed the limits of three square leagues. Where practicable, the lines of the other ranchos should be made boundaries of this.
The papers in the matter are now returned, and you will instruct the the Surveyor-General to conform, in his final locations, to the principles herein determined. Any suggestions as to details which may have been thrown out in my remarks, will not be regarded as controlling general instructions, or as absolutely overruling the exercise of such sound discretion by the Surveyor-General, as facts now unknown or undeveloped may hereafter require of him. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
J. THOMPSON, Secretary. . Commissioner of the General Land Office.
No. 662. Where separate portions of a single Mexican Grant were confirmed by
independent decrees to separate claimants, one having had a mesne conveyance for specific land within the grant, the two decrees must be executed, as to survey, with reference to each other, so that the two surveys
will form the compact body of land which was granted. A construction of either of the decrees, will be rejected by the Surveyor
General, the result of the adoption of which, would be to give a greater aggregate of land to all the claimants than the entire quantity of the original grant.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, September 1, 1859. Sir :-On consideration of your report of the 18th May last, in the matter of the application of H. P. Hepburn, Esq., for the issuance of a patent upon
the returned survey of the Rodriguez portion of the Buelna grant, I am of the opinion that the issuance of the patent as the case then stood, and it is believed now stands, would not be proper. This survey was made so as to have on the east a line of boundary, which became the west line of the survey of a confirmation of another, and the remaining portion, of the Buelna grant. The survey of the Castro part of the grant was rejected, according to the views of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, expressed in his reports of the 18th February and 17th April, 1858, which were sustained by my replies of the 10th March and 30th April, 1858. The decree in Castro's case, we regarded as confirming only one square league of land, being a portion of an original four-league grant, of which the remaining three leagues were confirmed to the Madam Rodrigues.