Georgia's Ruling Page: 500
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trot out a survey by counting the beat of
his pony's hoofs, mark his corners, and
write out his field notes with the com-
placency produced by an act of duty well
performed. Someti mes-and who could
blunme the surveyor ?-when the pony was
" feeling his oats," he might step a little
higher and farther, and in that case the
beneficiary of the scrip might get a thou-
sand or two more acres in his survey than
the scrip calicd for. Iut look at the
houlndless leagues the State had to spare!
11 however, no one ever had to complain of
the pony undcrsteppillg. Nearly every
old survey in the State contained anll ex-
cess of land.
In later years, when the State became
more populous, and land values increased,
this careless work entailed incalculable
trouble, endless litigation, a period of riot-
ous land-grabbing, antd no little bloodshed.
The land-sharks vraciously attacked these
excesses in the old surveys, and filed upon
such portions with new scrip as unappro-
priated public domain. Wherever the
identifications of the old tracts were vague,
and the corners were not to be clearly
established, the I,and Office would recog-
nize the newer locations as valid, and
issue title to the locators. Here was the
greatest hardship to be found. These oldt
surveys, taken from the pick of the land,
were already nearly all occupied by unsus-
pecting and peaceful settlers, and thus
their titles were demolished, and the
choice was placed before them either to
buy their land over at a double price or
to vacate it, with their families and
personal bIlongings, immediately. Land
locators sprang up by hundreds. The
country was held up and searched for
"vacancies" at the point of a compass.
IIuntdreds of thousands of dollars' worth
of splendid acres were wrested from their
innocent purchasers and holders. There
began a vast hegira of evicted settlers in
tattered wagns; going nowhere, cursing nowhere, cursing
injustice, stunned, purposeless, homeless,
hopeless. Their children began to look
up to them for bread, and cry.
It was in consequence of these con-
ditions that Hamilton and Avery had filed
upon a strip of land about a mile wide
and three miles long, comprising about
two thousand acres, it being the excess
over complement of the Elias Denny three-
league survey on Chiquito River, in one
of the middtle-weste-rn counties. This two-
thousanld-acre body of land was asserted
by them to be vacant land, and improperly
considered a part of the Denny survey.
They based this assertion and their claim
upon the land upon the demonstrated facts
that the beginning corner of the Denny
survey was plainly identified; that its field
notes called to run west 5,760 varas, and
then called for Chiquito River; thence it
ran south, with the meanders-and so on
-and that the Chiquito River was, on
the ground, fully a mile farther west from
the point reached by course and distance.
To sum up : there were two thousand acres
of vacant land between the I)enny survey
proper and Chiquito River.
O(ne sweltering day in July the Com-
missioner called for the papers in con-
nection with this new location. They
were brought, and heaped, a foot deep,
upon his desk--ield notes, statements,
sketches, affidavits, connecting lines-
documents of every description that
shrewdness and money could call to the
aid of Hnamlin and Avery.
The firm was pressing the Commissioner
to issue a patent upon their location.
They possessed inside information con-
cerning a new railroad that would probably
pass somewhere near this land.
The General Land Office was very still
while the Commissioner was delving into
the heart of the mass of evitlence. The
pigeons could be heard on the roof of the
old, castle-like building, cooing and fret-
ting. The clerks were droning every-
where, scarcely pretending to earn their
salaries. Each little sound echoed hollow
and loud from the bare, stone-flagged
floors, the plastered walls, and the iron-
joisted ceiling. The impalpable, perpet-
ual lilnestone dust that never settled.
whitened a long streamer of sunlight that
pierced the tattered window-aw ning.
It seemed that Hamlin and Avery had
builded well. The Denny survey was
carelessly ltade, even for a careless period.
Its beginning corner was identical with
that of a well-defined old Spanish grant,
but its other calls were sinfully vague.
The field notes contained no other object
that survived-no tree, no natural object
save Chiquito River, and it was a mile
wrong there. According to precedent,
the Office would be justified in giving it
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Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Henry, O., 1862-1910. Georgia's Ruling, periodical, June 30, 1900; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth139371/m1/7/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.