Stockley v. United States
260 U.S. 532 (1923)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Stockley v. United States, 260 U.S. 532 (1923)

Stockley v. United States

No. 74

Argued November 20, 1922

Decided January 2, 1923

260 U.S. 532

Syllabus

1. Section 7 of the Act of March 3, 1891, c. 561, 26 Stat. 1099, applicable to homestead and other entries, provides that, after the lapse of two years from the date of the issuance of "the receiver's receipt upon the final entry," when no contest or protest against the validity of the entry shall be pending, the entryman shall be entitled to a patent conveying the land entered, and the same shall be issued to him.

Held:

(a) That the limitation began to run when a homesteader submitted his final proofs, paid the fees and commissions then due, and obtained the receiver's receipt therefor, although the proofs were not passed upon and no register's certificate was issued. P. 260 U. S. 537.

(b) The original meaning of the statute in this regard cannot be altered to suit an altered practice of the Land Department whereby examination of proofs and issuance of register's certificate are postponed when receiver's receipt issues, instead of issuing the certificate and the receipt together, as was customary when the statute was enacted. P. 260 U. S. 538.

(c) The statute applies even though the receipt was issued contrary to the instructions of the Commissioner of the General Land Office. P. 260 U. S. 541.

(d) When the period of the statute has run in favor of a homestead entry, the question whether the land was mineral in character is no longer open. P. 260 U. S. 543.

2. Where an order of the President withdrew a body of public lands from all forms of appropriation " subject to existing valid claims;" an existing preliminary homestead entry, attended by compliance with the requirements of the homestead law up to the time of the order, was within the exception, and, when followed, after the withdrawal, by the issuance of a receiver's receipt upon final entry, and the lapse of two years thereafter, was protected under the Act of 1891, supra, from attack under a subsequent protest alleging that the land entered was mineral. P. 260 U. S. 543.

271 F. 632, reversed.

Page 260 U. S. 533

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals affirming a decree of the district court which ordered that possession of a tract of land be restored to the United States with damages for oil and gas extracted from it.

Page 260 U. S. 536

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