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Mr. HARRISON. Yes. How can you go back and show that the United States owns this country?
Mr. RAKER. All the rest of the land was surveyed and plotted and deeded years ago. Did not you folks look into the question at all, that this was in the river? Did that ever appeal to you?
Mr. HARRISON. Of course, they did. Everybody knew that it was in the river.
Mr. RAKER. When you knew it was in the river, did you not make an investigation to find out how it was?
Mr. HARRISON. Surely. Here is the situation that confronted everybody. Texas was not originally in the Union Texas was acquired. When Texas had granted away back some of the old Spanish grants it came from Texas. We did not get the public domain from the United States. We got it from Texas. And so this land here that had never been granted by Texas theretufore was supposed to still belong not to the United States but to Texas.
Mr. RAKER. I know, but you still do not cover my question.
Mr. RAKER. Yes; you do. You did not quite cover it all. The question of whether or not Texas owned the land from the south bank to the center of the river was in controversy during all this time and was so discussed by the people.
Mr. HARRISON. No.
Mr. HARRISON. Texas had been in possession there and there was a hazy rumor but there was never any thought that the United States owned it. There may have been by Major Dyar there, who has been in the land business, but there would not have been by a single, solitary member of this committee as an attorney dealing with the thing in a practical way. You may think so now but you would not have thought so then.
Mr. VAILE. When did Texas begin to exercise physical authority over the surface and the location of the licensees?
Mr. HARRISON. Texas was in possession. Let me read these two paragraphs :
“The fact that Texas was in possession and had been in possession for a hundred years or more. This was admitted in the bills of both Oklahoma and United States filed in the case of Oklahoma v. Texas."
And the fact that Texas was in possession of this land. I will point out the page of the record in this brief. It was proven by the testimony of over 100 witnesses, as shown by the record in that case.
“ Texas from early pioneer days used the river as a carrier of commerce, and made every conceivable use of its south bank and bed without question, advertising its rights to possession by notices put on the center of at least three bridges spanning the river and emphasizing it in public celebrations participated in by people of both Texas and Oklahoma."
All this appears on page 120 of the Senate hearings. (Continuing :)
“ The fact that Texas had for a long time exercised governmental control over the south half of the river. Her courts exercised unquestioned jurisdiction over it. Not only did the trial court punish crime committed on it, and enforce property rights on it, and hold inquests over persons found dead on it, but the State appellate courts extended their jurisdiction to the center of the stream.
“ Texas peace officers policed it and arrested offenders for every class of crime. Texas grand juries exercised jurisdiction over it. Texas game wardens protected the fish in it, and every form of Government control was exercised." (Spears v. Texas, 8 Texas Crim. App., 466 ; Persons v. Hunt, 98 Tex. Sup. 420 ; and numerous other cases.)
You ask me as a member of the committee, Did not the people down there know that Texas did not own that? and my answer is this as I have quoted you.
Mr. RAKER. Let me reverse it. Is it not presumable and almost a fact that the people on the other side then did know that Texas claimed it and Oklahoma had no right to it?
Mr. HARRISON. The people on the oti side?
Mr. RAKER. On the north side of the center of the river—of the medial line of the river?
Mr. HARRISON. I did not quite get that.
Mr. RAKER. You say that Texas people knew that the Texas line ran to the center of the river--the medial line of the river?
Mr. HARRISON. They knew that; they thought that.
Mr. RAKER. Would not the converse be true, that all other people knew on the north side that Oklahoma's rights only ran to the center of the river? What do you say to that?
Mr. HARRISON. Well, I would rather think so; I do not know what their records show. I do not know what their cases show. You have asked me whether or not Texas did not know. I am taking the specific deed citing the authority of Texas courts on the subject. That is sufficient answer whether Texas knew it.
Mr. RAKER. Those who came over to the center of the river from the north to the south must have known that they were trespassing on Texas territory.
Mr. HARRISON. I do not know what they knew. They ought to have known it. I am not trying to evade you.
Mr. RAKER. No.
Mr. HARRISON. Here is what I mean. I do not think that the ordinary oil man knew the state of the public law except as he was advised by his counsel. I was first trying to answer your specific inquiry, what did Texas people know about it? I take it you mean by that the Texas authorities, the courts. The officers thought that ought to be sufficient answer of what Texas people knew or thought about it, whether or not their claim was justified. It has found out since that the claim was not justified. By the fact remains that running through all this case and every citation I have given you, is the evidence of what Texas thought about it, however much mistaken they might have been. You ask me is it not true that the people of the north bank thought the same thing? I do not know how to answer that unless I would find decisions on that.
Mr. DYAR. You can find them.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not think it is necessary to extend this matter, but I would like to know whether or not both of these bills are sufficiently broad to cover your case?
Mr. HARRISON. That is the thing I want to address myself to, and that is about all I rose to do, really. I think this committee ought to pass the Sinnott bill.
The CHAIRMAN. The Senate bill is the Watson bill?
Mr. HARRISOx. No; the Sanders bill. I meant the Sinnott bill, not the Senate bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that of a later date?
Mr. HARRISON. No; the Sanders bill is the later bill. Not alone on account of the later date.
The CHAIRMAN. That is what I want to get your view upon.
Mr. HARRISON. I think this bill here, the Sanders bill, is a bill drawn for the purpose of protecting the placer people only. I may be mistaken about it.
The CHAIRMAN. What amendment of the Sanders bill would cover your case?
Mr. HARRISON. Section 2 is almost entirely objectionable; but, at any rate, from the eighteenth line on ought to go out if the Sanders bill is passed, and the date should be changed, and it seems to me that the date could well be fixed of the date when they took possession of the property-April 1, 1920. At any rate, the date ought to be fixed as of February 25, 1920, which is the date of the other leasing bill.
The CHAIRMAN. The oil leasing act?
Mr. HARRISON. The oil leasing act. That date ought to be preserved instead of taking it as of October 1, 1910. I do not think that Major Dyar would have any objection to a change in the date.
Mr. DYAR. I really did not think of that feature of it.
Mr. HARRISON. It does not go to the point of that objection to the bill. Certainly, if this committee is going to pass the bill, you want everybody, to use the common Ohio expression, from which I came, we want everybody to have a fair and equal chance at it. There is no reason why anyone should be given any special privilege in this thing. I do not think it has that purpose.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the name of the company you are interested in?
Mr. HARRISON. The one that I am tremendously interested in, having made a great loss, is the Courts Drilling Co., but I also represent the Seright claim. In that connection, let me mention that Major Dyar said this morning that on account of the wells that were brought in by the receiver, we had a well down—the Courts Drilling Co.-to the sand. I am pretty sure that we had the casing in, although I would want to be dead sure about that before I made the statement. My recollection is that we expected to bring in the well within a very few days when the receiver was appointed—within a week. There was an investment, as I recall, of nearly $100,000. That well was brought in.
The CHAIRMAN. In drilling?
Mr. HARRISON. Let us say $12,500 was paid for the rest of the machinery, etc., including drilling on the premises.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you been repaid any?
Mr. HARRISON. Not a cent, not a nickel, for this reason, no doubt. The receiver nerer brought in that well—the most curious thing in the world. If these men who are in the oil business will look at the Courts property on that map, you will see that it was right next to one of the very large wells. Indeed, the receiver brought in two wells afterwards, which he drilled wholly himself. brought in those two wells, and it was last week producing about an average of about 60 barrels a day. What their original production was I do not know, but this one well the receiver never did bring in. I do not know why. I do not know whether in the mix-up in which he took over everything that the wells spoiled or what happened. I am not standing here criticizing a court officer. I do not want to be put in that position. But I do know that as far as we were concerned it was a dead loss.
The CHAIRMAN. With what companies are your companies in conflict ?
Mr. HARRISON. We have never, so far as I know, received any notice of any adverse claims. I take it from the statement the major has made that there must be some.
The CHAIRMAN. You do not know of any overlapping with yours now?
Mr. HARRISOX. I do not know of one. I am not prepared to say that there ale none. But we want the chance for some tribunal to find that out. We want a chance somewhere to introduce evidence of our investment here. The Government of the United States has received one and a half million dollars due to the enterprise and push of oil men that went down there. They are bound to receive their royalties. This land has got to be leased to somebody Why should it not be leased to those who have an equitable interest in it? That is what I think the committee wants to do. We will take our chances to perfect our equitable interest in our properties, all of them that I speak for, and if we do not make good on that before the Secretary of the Interior we will not blame Congress. All we want you to do is to give us the opportunity.
Mr. RAKER. That does not give the committee any chance to determine where the right lies at all. If there is any conflict we might put a provision in there that a man like yourself may have a most just claim, but the provision would cut him out because he can not be heard; somebody might have a prior claim. The question is that we ought to know whether there are any that overlap on your claim.
Mr. HARRISON. I think your criticism of me is correct.
Mr. HARRISON. It ought to be constructive. If I may say so, I will say that I think the Sinnott bill takes care of us and I have gone over it.
Mr. DYAR. Are you content with the 20-acre lease that the Sinnott bill provides?
Mr. HARRISON. No. The Sinnott bill does not provide for 20 acres alone, but permits the leases under this shall be made as nearly as practicable 20 acres, section 2 reading as follows:
“That permits or leases under this act shall be made as nearly as practicable in 20-acre units, and no person or corporation shall be entitled to a permit or lease for lands exceeding in the aggregate 160 acres, etc.”
Mr. RAKER. Are you satisfied ?
Mr. HARRISON. One hundred and sixty acres. The Searight,, claims have a little more than that. You have got to fix a preference. Four hundred is too much.
Mr. RAKER. We have not put anything anywhere yet.
Mr. HARRISON. It is in there. My answer is that the Sinnott bill is, in my opinion, sufficient for our purposes. The other bill ought to be amended by fixing the date in there and taking out at least from lines 18 to 24.
Mr. RAKER. What is your view as to what the Government should get out of these claims that you people are asking the Government to give you a right to handle this property of the Government? What is your view as to what the Government should receive first in royalty?
Mr. HARRISON. The Government has been to the expense of litigation. I do not know what that expense amounts to. The figures have been asked for. I take it that you want me to state whether I think the Government ought to be given a bonus over the usual one-eighth royalty. I do not think so.
Mr. RAKER. What ought the royalty to be?
Mr. HARRISOx. Because the Government did not discover the oil. You can not make these people hold here by anything you could do. You can not make my company hold, because you are not going to pay me for a dead well. You can
not do it. Why should these men after they have gone down there and developed this territory and because they have brought in one well lose all this other investment and at the same time pay the Government a bonus? We have already paid one bonus on it.
Mr. RAKER. If the Government would do like a private individual, standing on its rights, giving the most favorable interpretation to good faith, allowing payments for their improvements, they would just cut you right off, pay your expense, take the land, and handle it.
Mr. HARRISON. I do not think so.
Mr HARRISON. A private individual? That is a pretty serious legal question you have asked me, my friend. That depends a whole lot on the situation.
Mr. SANDERS of Texas. I just want to suggest, Judge Raker, that in the bill which I introduced, which is before the committee, so far as the future production is concerned, the production is not less than 124 per cent.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there anything new you desire to give to the committee that you have not covered?
Mr. HARRISON. No; I have nothing more.
Mr. DRIVER. What is the acreage that you claim under the assignment of the Texas permit?
Mr. HARRISON. About 300 altogether, or 320 acres.
Mr. HARRISON. I am sorry I can not give you that. I know what the claims are and came prepared to discuss that. In my individual case we had 10 acres ; that is, in the bank. We had 5 other acres that we paid $62,500 for, which is an evidence of the insanity of somebody on our side.
Mr. CLINNIN. Mr. Barkley and I both spoke of a brief. Mr. Barkley wanted to give you the reference, and it appears in the Senate hearings of the subcommittee of the Senate, and I want to give this reference and incorporate it into the record here, and Mr. Barkley suggested it will cover the points that he had.
The CHAIRMAN. Let Mr. Barkley put it in his statement.
Mr. CLINNIN. He did ask that permission. It is on page 111 of the Senate hearings.
The CHAIRMAN. Give it to the reporter.
BRIEF FOR THE RECEIVER OF GENERAL OIL CO., OF HOUSTON, TEX., IN SUPPORT OF
HOUSE BILL NO. 12233, INTRODUCED BY MR. SINNOTT (BY REQUEST OF DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR)..
SEPTEMBER 11, 1922. STATE OF TEXAS, Harris County, ss: To the Committee on the Public Lands:
The General Oil Co., a common-law trust, through John V. Clinnin, solicitor for the receiver, respectfully petition the members of the Public Lands Committee of the House of Representatives to report favorably upon the aboveentitled bill and urge the enactment of said bill by the House of Representatives and Senate of the United States.
The petitioner is the holder of title to certain oil lands in the Red River district acquired under a grant from the State of Texas for a mineral lease on 80 acres of unsurveyed land lying and being in the bed of the Red River south of section 5, township 5, south of range 14, west of the Indian meridian, Tillman County, Okla., having been in possession of said 80 acres from and after July 31, A. D. 1919, under an oil and gas lease issued to Mr. Sam Sparks, marked “Gas permit No. 3131," issued by the general land office of the