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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Edmondston, 181 U.S. 500 (1901)

United States v. Edmondston

No. 353

Submitted April 8, 1901

Decided May, 13, 1901

181 U.S. 500


One who pays to government officers, entitled to receive money for public lands, more than the law required him to pay for it cannot recover that excess in an action against the government in the Court of Claims.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of Claims in favor of the appellee and against the United States for $200, being the amount he was overcharged in the purchase of a quarter-section of land. The evidence disclosed the following facts: the claimant, on March 11, 1891, filed in the local land office at Ashland, Wisconsin, a statement under the preemption laws of his intention to preempt a tract of 160 acres. On September 16, 1891, he gave public notice, as required by law, of his purpose to make final proof, and, in pursuance of such notice, on November 9, 1891, proved up before the register and receiver of the land office the necessary settlement and improvement.

Findings 2, 3, 4, and 5 are as follows:

"II. The claimant, having established his was required to pay for the same to the United States the sum of $400, being at the rate of $2.50 per acre for 160 acres, and he did pay the United States that amount for the land."

"III. The land inhabited and improved by the claimant, and paid for by him on the November 11, 1891, had been raised in price to $2.50 per acre, and put in the market prior to January, 1861, by reason of the grant of alternate sections to aid in the construction of railroads, and was of an alternate section reserved to the United States along the line of a railroad within the limits granted to the State of Wisconsin by the Act approved June 3, 1856, 11 Stat. 20, to aid in the construction of railroads in that state, now known as the grant to the Chicago,

Page 181 U. S. 501

St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway Company, and it was never alternate reserved land to the United States along the line of railroads within the limits granted by any other act of Congress to any other railway company."

"IV. At the time said cash entry was made and said money paid to the receiver at the local land office at Ashland, Wisconsin, it does not appear that the claimant made any protest or objection to said payment, nor asserted any right to purchase the land at a less price than that which he was called upon to pay for said land."

"V. Said land had been raised to $2.50 per acre and put on the market prior to January, 1861, by reason of the grant of alternate sections for railroad purposes, said land having been thus offered on June 14, 1856."

It also appears that the claimant applied to the land office for the repayment of half of the purchase money, which was refused.


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