MORMON LAND MONOPOLY
HONEST FARMERS SHUT OUT BY THE POLYGAMISTS.
UTAH'S ARABLE LAND COVERED AND CON-TROLLED BY MORMON INCORPORATED CITIES—THE CASES OF THOMAS M'BRIDH AND JUDGE BAKER—QUESTIONS FOR CONGRESS AND THE SUPREME COURT.
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1.—The Territory of Utah is divided into two nearly equal parts by the Wasatch Mountains. On the east of these mountains lies the Uintah Indian reservation, larger than Connecticut and Rhode Island, and the territory is bounded almost entirely on the east by the Ute reservation in the State of Colorado. Because of the location of these reservations, agricultural settlements cannot be expected to exist in Utah east of the Wasatch range for many years, for farmers settled there would live in constant fear of Indian incursions. The farming settlements of Utah are, therefore, confined to the foot-hills and valleys on the west side of the moun-tains, where the land is irrigated, without the ass of capital, by the mountain streams, which are fed by the snows which lie on the heights. Not more than one- fiftieth of the land in Utah can now be irrigated in this way for lack of natural streams, and water cannot be supplied for the remainder until the sinking of artesian wells for this purpose has proved successful and much money has been expended in building long irrigating canals. But experience shows that the now barren lands of Utah will, become wonderfully productive wherever water can be brought to them.
Wherever the land could be irrigated by natural streams, and could, therefore, be used for agricultural purposes, the thrifty Mormons in geniously secured it against appropriation by any persons except those of their own faith, Little colonies of from 200 to 500 persons were systematically arranged along the western side of the Wasatch Mountains, and these colo-nies were incorporated as cities by the Territo-rial Legislature of Utah. When Congress threw open the public lands to settlement under the Pre-emption law, in 1841, and the Homestead law, in 1862, it was provided that any land within the limits of an incorporated town, or selected on the site of a city or town, could not be taken by farmers. In order to control the farming lands of Utah, the Mormons blanketed with a series of incorporated cities almost the entire area which could be irrigated by natural means and without great expense. In many cases the land of one corporation joins the land of the corpo-ration next to it, so that a traveler can go a great distance in Utah without passing beyond the limits of some incorporated city, although he is frequently miles from a house or habita-tion. In this way the Mormons practically shut out from the Territory all who are op-posed to them. When a Mormon desires to ac-quire the United States title to 160 acres of land within the limits of one of these corpora-tions, no one objects, but if a Gentile attempts to get a title the Mayor of the city files in the United States Land Office at Salt Lake City an affidavit that the undesirable settler is with-in the limits of an incorporated city, and is, therefore, seeking to secure a title in violation of the laws of Congress.
The Territorial Legislature has incorporated 37 cities in Utah. Their names, the number of square miles given in the charters of each, the dates of incorporation, the Population of each in 1870, and the number of acres granted to each in the patents issued to them under the town-site laws of Congress, are set forth in the following table :
Name-Square Miles-Incorporated-Population, ’70-Date of Town-site Patent-Acres in Same
Alpine…….4 1855 208 1870 160
American Fork…16 1853 1,115 1872 1,120
Beaver……36 1867 1,207 1872 1,280
Brigham…..12 1867 1,315 1872 1,280
Cedar………36 1868 507 1872 320
Coalville…..20 1867 626 1879 640
Corinne……* 1870 783 1874 168
Ephriam…12 1868 1,167 1872 640
Fairview…8 1872 531 1872 1,320
Fillmore…36 1867 905 1872 1,120
Grantsville…21 1867 755
Hyram……9 1870 708 1872 607
Kaysville…18 1868 1,422
Lehi………16 1852 1,058 1872 1,280
Logan…..16 1866 1,757 1872 2,521½
Manti……16 1851 1,239 1872 1,280
Mendon…….9 1870 345 1872 480
Morgan…….* 1868 1,346 1872 1,270
Moroni…….40 1866 633 1872 360
Mount Pleasant…16 1868 1,346 1872 1,270
Nephi…….16 1852 1,286 1872 1,121½
Ogden…..20 1861 3,127 1872 2,480
Parowan….25 1868 861 1874 760
Payson….25 1865 1,436 1872 840
Pleasant Grove…40 1855 930 1872 640
Provo…..25 1864 2,384 1871 2,240
Richmond….16 1868 817 1874 840
St. George….25 1862 1,142 1872 1,285
Salt Lake City…49 1860 12,854 1870 15,730
Smithfield…16 1868 744 1872 800
Spanish Fork…30 1855 1,450 1875 840
Springville…25 1852 1,661 1872 800
Spring….16 1870 623 1872 440
Toole……..9 1853 958 1872 1,280
Washington….20 1870 463 1873 400
Wellsville….16 1866 885 1872 1,160
Willard….6 1870 552 1876 582
This large patent granted by special act of Congress. Grantsville's application was filed in October, 1879. and Kaysville's application is pending.
As the tillable land in Utah is included within the limits of these 37 cities, it is plain that the Mormons have practically, if not actually, in-corporated the whole agricultural part of the Territory. Although all but two of the thirty-seven have obtained patents from the United States for the land upon which they stand, and an additional quantity for their speculative growth, according to their population, yet they exercise corporate authority over the whole area specified in their Territorial charters. For example, the City of Moroni was incorporated with 40 square miles, or 40 sections of land, containing 25,600 acres. It was incorporated in 1866, but in 1870, four years later, its pop-ulation consisted of only 633 persons. When it sought a patent from the United States in 1872, its residents were so few that only half of one section, or 320 acres, could be secured for them as a town site. To-day this so-called "City" of Moroni exercises corporate authority over the whole 40 square miles included in its Mormon charter. Salt Lake City's corporate extent is 49 square miles, or 31,380 acres. Under the act of 1867, the maximum amount of land which could be pat-ented to a city was 2,560 acres. The authori-ties of Salt Lake City represented that this would not be enough for its municipal necessi-ties, and therefore Congress, by special act, gave the city a patent for 5,730 acres.
Legal questions which have arisen under this wholesale appropriation of arable land by the Mormons will give the courts a great deal of trouble. Little has been heard of them in the past, because few Gentiles have cared to risk their lives and property by attempting to gain a foothold on the agricultural lands of Utah. But now the Gentile miners have settlements not far from some of these lands, although they are only one-tenth of the Territory's population; the President has shown a desire to have vigor-ous measures taken against polygamy ; the new and rapidly-growing State of Colorado is not far away, and the signs of the times are such as to encourage men who wish to see Mormon monop-oly overthrown and honest farmers protected in their rights. By the organic act of Congress, under which the Territory of Utah was estab-lised, the Legislature was permitted to pass laws upon all necessary subjects of legisla-tion, but was forbidden to pass any law which would interfere with the primary dis-posal of the soil of the United States. In only a few cases has there been disclosed any disposition of a Legislature to interfere with such primary disposal of the soil. In 1872 the Supreme Court of Nevada held that, under the act which organized the Territory of Utah, no act of the Utah Legislature would have been valid that in any way attempted to confer any right to the water of the streams on the public lands. In 1874 the Territorial act of Montana of Jan. 12, 1872, which provided for the for-feiture to the Territory of placer mines held by aliens (Chinamen) was declared by the Supreme Court of Montana to be unconstitutional and void, in that it was not In harmony with the organic act which established the Territory. The question whether the incorporation of a city on the public lands is an interference with the primary disposal of the soil of the United States has been before the courts but once—when the charter of the City of Omaha was in dispute before Justice Miller, of the United States Supreme Court, in 1868, in the noted case of Root versus Shields. Omaha was incorporated by the Territory of Nebraska in 1857 with an area of over 3,000 acres, and its authorities obtained a town-site patent for 320 acres. Shields pre-empted 160 acres outside of the 320 acres, but within the 3,000 acres. Secretary Thompson canceled Shields's entry in 1858 ; the land was sold at auction in 1860, and possession surrendered to the purchaser in 1861. But Secretary Smith, a few months later, reversed all previous de-cisions, vacated the public sale, and in 1863 issued a patent to Shields. In the proceeding which followed, Shields claimed that a Ter-ritory cannot incorporate a city on the public lands, and that such an incorporation is an in-terference with the primary disposal of the soil of the United States. Justice Miller decided against these claims, and upheld Omaha's charter, on the ground that the lands it in-cluded would some time be needed for the city's municipal purposes. The location of the settle-ment, and its subsequent growth, make this de-cision reasonable ; but the condition of affairs In Omaha was very different from that of Utah's incorporated cities, inhabited by hand-fuls of Mormons, whose only pursuits are the raising of vegetables and the persecution of Gentiles who try to reclaim a little land for farming. The charters of these so called cities contain the following remarkable clause : "The inhabitants of said city shall have power to pur-chase, receive, hold, sell, lease, convey, and dispose of property, real and personal, for the benefit of said city, both within and without its corporate boundaries; to improve and protect such property, and to do all other things in re-lation thereto as natural persons.”
The "City" of Grantsville contained 755 in-habitants in 1870. It is situated near the south shore of Great Salt Lake, and its public buildings are a hall, a co-operative store, two blacksmith shops, and a school-house. It has no railroad and no river; its streets are cart-paths, which wind along through high bushes ; but it controls under its charter more than four times as much land as is controlled by the im-portant City of Omaha. In 1867 it was incor-porated by the Utah Legislature, and its corpo- rate limits included 21 square miles, or 13,440 acres of land. As has already been stated, its population in 1870 was 755 ; in 1860, it con-tained within these corporate limits but 451 persons. In 1862, Thomas McBride settled upon land within what were afterward made the corporate limits of Grantsville, but this land was situated one mile from the settlement which has been dignified by the name of city, in order to serve the purposes of the Mormons. Immedi-ately after the opening of the United States Land Office at Salt Lake City, in 1869, he made a homestead entry of his 160 acres, and ex-pended $1,000 in making improvements upon his farm, putting 15 acres of it under cultiva-tion. In 1874 he again visited the Land Office, where, without opposition, he made proof that he had resided on this land for five years, as re-quired by the Homestead law of 1862, and re-ceived a certificate entitling him to a patent.
McBride had been a Mormon, and so long as he continued to be one no attemps were made to deprive him of his homestead ; but after re-ceiving his certificate he became an apostate, and deserted the advocates of polygamy. Then his former companions undertook to drive him out of Utah. The Mayor of Grantsville, in February, 1877, filed an affidavit in the Land Office, setting up that McBride's land lay within the city's corporate limits ; that it was covered with valuable municipal improvements; and that the city desired to include it in an applica-tion which it would make for a town-site patent. No attention was paid to this, and McBride's patent was issued, Sept. 26, 1877, and was sent for delivery to the Land Office in Salt Lake City. McBride was not on hand to receive it, and the Register called upon him and others, through an advertisement, to come forward and get their patents. The Mayor of Grants-ville saw this notice, and at once visited the Land Office, where he alleged that McBride's land was covered with valuable municipal improvements—a bridge, an irrigat-ing canal, shade trees and sidewalks, and streets laid out at right-angles—all of the virtue of $1,800. The Commissioner of the General Land Office recalled McBride's patent, and ordered that there should be a hearing. The testimony showed that the bridge was not on McBride's land: that there were no shade-trees or sidewalks; that the canal had been made 25 years before, and that McBride was one of the farmers who had made it for their common use; and that the streets were only wagon-trails running through the sage-brush. The Commissioner found that there were no municipal improvements upon McBride's land when he made his entry, and that there was no adverse occupation at that time; but he de-cided to hold the patent for cancellation, solely upon the ground that the entry had been illegally made within the limits of an incorpo-rated city—a city which had never had a treas-ury, and had never laid a tax.
When this patent was recalled for cancella-tion, 27 patents had already been granted with-in the corporate limits of Grantsville, all of them to Mormons. Since the Commissioner recalled McBride's patent, he has granted five patents—for 800 acres in all—within the limits of Grantsville. One of these patents was issued to the late Judge Samuel L. Baker, and the Commissioner argued that it ought to be granted, for the reason that the land in ques-tion, one mile from the settlement, was not needed for municipal purposes—an argument which would have been applicable in McBride's case. The Commissioner expressly stated that the only reason for recalling McBride's patent was that the land was situated within Grants-ville's corporate limits. But this was also true of Baker's land, and the land of the other per-sons for which patents have been granted, both before and since the decision in McBride's case.
Judge Baker got his patent. The Mormons gathered at his house with loaded guns in their hands, and threatened to give him "a pre-emp-tion of 6 feet by 2" if he did not get out of their country. Seeing that his life was in dan-ger if he remained there, he at once went to Salt Lake City for the purpose of commuting his homestead into a cash entry. In his absence the Mormons burned his house, his crops, and his fences.
The facts in the McBride case were brought out in the argument of an appeal to the Secre-tary of the Interior, who heard the case in com-pany with Assistant Attorney-General E. M. Marble. McBride was represented by James H. Mandeville and Walter H. Smith, Mr. Marble's predecessor. Their arguments were of no avail, and on Oct. 8, 1879, McBride's patent was ordered to be canceled, solely be-cause the land it covers is within Grantsville's corporate limits. McBride's counsel then ap-plied to the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia for a mandamus to compel a delivery of the patent, but after the order to show cause why a mandamus should not issue, the Secre-tary of the Interior completed the cancellation of McBride's patent. In arguments before this court, counsel held that these Mormon corporations were an interference with the primary disposal of the soil of the United States, and that Mc-Bride's right to his patent became vested when the patent was signed, sealed, and recorded, and did not depend upon its delivery to him. But the court held that McBride's title aid de-pend upon delivery, and, therefore, refused the mandamus. Within a few days of this decision the case was on the docket of the Supreme Court of the United States, where it is desig-nated the case of McBride against Carl Schurz, Secretary of the Interior, and on Dec. 8 last, McBride's counsel moved its advancement for trial at the present term. In support of this motion he showed that the case would not be reached in its regular order for over three years; that Mr. Schurz would probably cease to be Secretary of the Interior within 15 months, and that a mandamus must issue to him or to no one. Should he die, resign, or be removed, McBride would have no remedy. It was also asserted that 300,000 land patents which have pot been delivered now lie in the vaults of the General Land Office, so that, if title vests only in delivery, the men to whom these have been granted can be deprived of them. The Supreme Court refused to advance the case.
Counsel then appealed to the President, ask-ing him to request the Attorney-General to move for the case's advancement. The Attor-ney-General considered the petition, but re-fused to make the motion. Then counsel re-quested the President to instruct the Attorney-General to make the motion, representing that national questions were involved, in that the Supreme Court would be called upon to decide whether title vests absolutely upon the signing, sealing, and recording of a patent, and whether these Mormon corporations are an interference with the primary disposal of the soil of the United States. It is held that a settlement of the question will greatly aid the President in the accomplishment of his desire to compel the Mormons to submit to the laws. The President has expressed to the Attorney-General a wish that he shall try to secure an advancement of the case, but as the Attorney-General is still un- willing to take any such action, it is probable that the suit of Thomas McBride against Carl Schurz, which is so intimately connected with the plans of the Mormons to perpetuate their power, will be brought before Congress for its consideration.
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