The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931 Page: 3
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Problem of Maintaining Solid Range on Spur Ranch 3
possession, the ranchman for existence. The legal rules of the
game seemed to be designed to help the settler.
Prior to 1899 a settler could acquire a homestead in two ways.
He could file on 160 acres of the public domain, live on it three
years, and receive a title to the land from the state.2 Or he could
file on a section of school land, agree to pay $1 or $1.50 an acre
for it, according to its classification, and forward one-fortieth of
the purchase price to the Land Commissioner with his application.
At the same time he must give his promissory note to the state for
thirty-nine fortieths of the purchase price, on which he paid three
per cent interest annually. When he had lived on the land three
years, the state gave him title to it. If the purchaser failed to pay
the interest, his land reverted to the state. He had the privilege
of paying the thirty-nine fortieths of the purchase price due the
state at any time prior to the expiration of the forty years. The
law also gave the settler the right to purchase three sections of
"additional lands" within a five-mile radius of the first section,
designated as his homestead. The purchase terms of the "addi-
tional lands" were the same as in the case of the homestead section.
When a person fulfilled the terms of the law he had the right to
purchase at the end of three years four sections, or 2,560 acres, of
school land. In 1899 the state converted all the remaining public
domain into school land.3
As a rule the first settlers never lived out their contracts with
the state. The law gave them the right to sell their "claims," and
the buyer lived out the contract. Some men deliberately filed on
land for the purpose of selling their rights in the contract. Such
persons were called "bonus-hunters." After a settler had disposed
of his "claim" he was at liberty to file on other school lands. Be-
tween 1900 and 1903 bonuses yielded from $1 to $3 an acre.4
Until the school lands were opened for settlement they were
leased by the Land Commissioner to the highest bidder and usually
for a term of five years. The minimum price of a lease was four
cents an acre. The matter of placing school tracts on the market
was in the hands of the Land Board, composed of the Land Com-
missioner, the Comptroller, and the Governor. The Board, as a
rule, opened the lands for settlement by counties or by groups of
'Spur Records, VII, 230.
8Spur Records, XV, 303.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 34, July 1930 - April, 1931, periodical, 1931; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101091/m1/7/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.