CHAP. CCCXXXVIII. – An Act to amend an Act relating to Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Homesteads.
|Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the act entitled “An act to enable honorably discharged soldiers and sailors, their widows and orphan children, to acquire homesteads on the public lands of the United States,” approved April fourth, eighteen hundred and seventy-two, be, and the same is hereby, amended so as to read as follows: That every private soldier and officer who has served in the army of the United States during the recent rebellion for ninety days, or more, and who was honorably discharged, and has remained loyal to the government, including the troops mustered into the service of the United States by virtue of the third section of an act entitled “An act making appropriations for completing the defences of Washington, and for other purposes,” approved February thirteenth, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, and every seaman, marine, and officer who has served in the navy of the United States, or in the marine corps, during the rebellion, for ninety days, and who was honorably discharged, and has remained loyal to the government, shall, on compliance with the provisions of an act entitled “An act to secure homesteads to actual settlers on the public domain,” and the acts amendatory thereof, as hereinafter modified, be entitled to enter upon and receive patents for a quantity of public lands (not mineral) not exceeding one hundred and sixty acres, or one quarter-section, to be taken in compact form, according to legal subdivisions, including the alternate reserved sections of public lands along the line of any railroad or other public work, not otherwise reserved or appropriated, and other lands subject to entry under the homestead laws of the United States: Provided, That said homestead settler shall be allowed six months after locating his homestead, and filing his declaratory statement, within which to make his entry and commence his settlement and improvement: And provided also, That the time which the homestead settled shall have served in the army, navy, or marine corps aforesaid shall be deducted from the time heretofore required to perfect title, or if discharged on account of wounds received, or disability incurred in the line of duty, then the term of enlistment shall be deducted from the time heretofore required to perfect title, without reference to the length of time he may have served: Provided, however, That no patent shall issue to any homestead settler who has not resided upon, improved, and cultivated his said homestead for a period of at least one year after he shall commence his improvements as aforesaid.
SEC. 2. That any person entitled, under the provisions of the foregoing section, to enter a homestead who may have heretofore entered, under the homestead laws, a quantity of land less than one hundred and sixty acres, shall be permitted to enter, under the provisions of this act, so much land contiguous to the tract embraced in the first entry as, when added to the quantity previously entered, shall not exceed one hundred and sixty acres.
SEC. 3. That in case of the death of any person who would be entitled to a homestead under the provisions of the first section of this act, his widow, if unmarried, or in case of her death or marriage, then his minor orphan children, by a guardian duly appointed and officially accredited at the Department of the Interior, shall be entitled to all the benefits enumerated in this act, subject to all the provisions as to settlement and improvements therein contained: Provided, That if such person died during his term of enlistment, the whole term of his enlistment shall be deducted from the time heretofore required to perfect the title.
SEC. 4. That where a party, at the date of his entry of a tract of land under the homestead laws, or subsequently thereto, was actually enlisted and employed in the army or navy of the United States, his services therein shall, in the administration of said homestead laws, be construed to be equivalent, to all intents and purposes, to a residence for the same length of time upon the tract so entered: Provided, That if his entry has been cancelled by reason of his absence from said tract while in the military or naval service of the United States, and such tract has not been disposed of, his entry shall be restored: And provided further, That if such tract has been disposed of, said party may enter another tract subject to entry under said laws; and his right to a patent therefor may be determined by the proofs touching his residence and cultivation of the first tract and his absence therefrom in such service.
SEC. 5. That any soldier, sailor, marine officer, or other person coming within the provisions of this act may, as well by an agent as in person, enter upon said homestead by filing a declaratory statement as in pre-emption cases: Provided, That said claimant in person shall within the time prescribed make his actual entry, commence settlements and improvements on the same, and thereafter fulfil all the requirements of this act.
SEC. 6. That the commissioner of the general land office shall have authority to make all needful rules and regulations to carry into effect the provisions of this act.
APPROVED, June 8, 1872.