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JANUARY 7 (calendar day, JANUARY 8), 1932.-Ordered to be printed, with an

illustration

Mr. NYE, from the Committee on Public Lands and Surveys, sub

mitted the following

REPORT

[To accompany S. 476)

The Committee on Public Lands and Surveys, to whom was referred the bill (S. 476) for the relief of certain purchasers of lots in Harding town site, Florida, having carefully considered the same, report favorably thereon with the recommendation that the bill do pass without amendment, as follows:

A BILL For the relief of certain purchasers of lots in Harding town site, Florida Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Represenatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Interior is authorized and directed to issue a patent to any person (or the legal representatives of such person) who, as a result of an auction sale of lots in Harding town site, Florida, conducted during February, 1924, by a representative of the Department of the Interior, agreed to purchase a lot in such town site, and who (1) prior to the date of approval of this act, has paid to the United States 50 per centum or more of the agreed purchase price of such lot, or (2) within twelve months after the date of approval of this act, makes payments to the United States which, together with payments previously made, amount to 50 per centum of the agreed purchase price of such lot. In the event that any person entitled to a patent as herein provided has paid to the United States more than 50 per centum of the agreed purchase price of any such lot, the Secretary of the Interior is authorized and directed to refund to such person an amount equal to the amount received by the United States in excess of such 50 per centum.

Sec. 2. As used in this act, the term “person” includes an individual, partnership, corporation, or association.

Sec. 3. There is hereby appropriated, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this act.

LETTERS, ETC., FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR CONCERNING THE

PROPOSED LEGISLATION

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

Washington, January 6, 1932. Hon. GERALD P. NYE, Chairman Committee on Public Lands and Surveys,

United States Senate. My Dear Mr. CHAIRMAN: In compliance with your request of December 29, 1931, for a report on S. 476 which is a bill for the relief of certain purchasers of lots in Harding town site, Florida, I transmit herewith a memorandum on the subject that has been submitted by the Commissioner of the General Land Office. After a review of the proposed measure, I agree with the commissioner. Very truly yours.

Ray LYMAN WILBUR,

Secretary.

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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

GENERAL LAND OFFICE,

Washington, January 6, 1932. Memorandum for the Secretary:

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Lands and Surveys on December 29, 1931, requested a report on S. 476 which proposed to authorize and direct the issuance of patents to purchasers of lots in Harding town site, Florida, upon payment of 50 per cent of the purchase price. The bill also directs the return to purchasers of any amount over 50 per cent of the purchase price which has been paid by said purchasers.

The homestead application by Lewis G. Norton was filed June 16, 1920, for lot 6 of sec. 2, T. 53 S., R. 43 E., Tal. M., which application was rejected by the register June 18, 1920, because the land was withdrawn. On appeal, the decision was affirmed November 20, 1920. On March 11, 1921, while the withdrawal of April 6, 1891, was in force, the President issued Proclamation No. 1589, which reserved certain lands embraced in former lot 6 of sec. 2, for a life-saving station and restored the balance of said lot 6 to the public domain. Lot 6 has been divided into lots 7 and 8, lot 7 being the portion embraced in Harding town site. On June 10, 1921, the President by Executive Order No. 3480, reserved the land now embraced in Harding, under section 2380, U.S. R. S., for town-site purposes.

On March 14, 1921, Norton filed another application to make homestead entry for the land embraced in Harding town site, which was rejected by the Secretary May 23, 1921. The record shows that Norton had erected a house upon what is now lot 4, block 10, and did some clearing and dug a well on the land. Norton continued to assert title to the land embraced in the town site, notwithstanding the adverse decisions of the department of May 23, 1921, and of January 30, 1924.

As Norton continued to assert his claim after the sale, the Government found it necessary to institute suit to eject him from the land. The Federal district court sitting at Jacksonville, Fla., rendered a decision favorable to Norton on June 23, 1926, and on appeal the United States Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans on June 9, 1927, reversed this decision and remanded the case. Later an application for a writ of certiorari made in behalf of Norton was denied by the United States Supreme Court on November 21, 1927. The Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida on May 23, 1928, rendered a decision in favor of the Government. Another application in hehalf of Norton was made to the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari which was denied in February, 1929. This department was not notified until July, 1929, that the decision rendered on May 23, 1928, in favor of the Government had become final,

A total of 128 lots of 133 embraced in the town site were sold for $386,400. The total amount paid on lots sold is $300,894.50, which amount had been deposited in the Treasury. The total amount due on said lots is $85,595.50. Under tne terms of the bill the department would receive half of the sale price of the lots, which is $193,200, and purchasers would be relieved from paying into the Treasury an equal amount of money.

Under the directions contained in the bill, half of the amount paid in on 29 patented lots would have to be refunded. Also, the third installment, which has been paid on 96 lots, would have to be refunded, which amounts in the aggregate would exceed $100,000.

SALE OF LOTS IN HARDING TOWN SITE, FLA,

The purchasers exercised their own choice and judgment in the purchase of lots. The competition for the lots was keen and the bidders made their own prices. At the date of the sale real estate prices were very high in Florida and much land was bought for speculation. It has been reported by some of the purchasers that they have sold their lots at more than double the prices paid. It should be noted that no interest was charged on the lots sold. Under all the circu nstances I do not favor the enactment of the bill.

C. C. MOORE, Commissioner.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,

Washington, January 5, 1932. Hon. Duncan U. FLETCHER,

United States Senate. MY DEAR SENATOR FLETCHER: Reference is had to your letter of December 21, 1931, in which you inclosed copy of a bill, S. 476, introduced by you, for the relief of purchasers of lots in Harding Townsite, Fla.

You ask that an extension of time be granted to the purchasers of lots in Harding until Congress has had opportunity to dispose of pending legislation for the relief of such purchasers.

The register at Gainesville has been advised that no action will be taken to cancel purchases for the nonpayment of the balance due on the purchase price until the present session of Congress has had opportunity to dispose of pending legislation for their relief. A copy of the letter to the register is inclosed. Very truly yours,

John H. EDWARDS.

Assistant Secretary.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

GENERAL LAND OFFICE,

Washington, January 5, 1932. REGISTER,

Gainesville, Fla. SIR: On December 21, 1931, Senator Fletcher notified this department that he had introduced a bill (S. 476) for the relief of the purchasers of lots in Harding, Fla., similar to his bill introduced in the last Congress. He also requested that an extension of time be granted to the purchasers of Harding lots until Congress has had opportunity to dispose of such legislation.

You are advised that no action will be taken looking to the cancellation of any sale where the purchaser is in arrears until the present session of Congress has had opportunity to pass on pending legislation for their relief. Purchasers will be given ample notice before steps are taken to cancel any purchases which may be in default, and those who make inquiry should be advised hereof. Very respectfully,

C. C. MOORE, Commissioner. Approved: January 5, 1932.

John H. EDWARDS,

Assistant Secretary. SR-72-1-VOL 1

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