John A. Blair Testimony

Testimony of John A. Blair.

Washington, D. C., January 21, 1885
J. A. Blair sworn and examined.
  Question. What relation do you bear to this Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association?--Answer. I have a sublease from them.
  Q. Did you have a lease in your own individual name?--A. No, sir.
  Q. Who were your associates?--A. My associates are Mr. Vale, Mr. Williamson, and Mr. Minor.
  Q. What is the name of the firm/--A. Williamson, Blair & Co.
  Q. Is it an incorporated or private association?--A. It is a private association.
  Q. How many acres do you occupy?--A. Seventy-five thousand eight hundred and fifty-two.
  Q. Have you your lease with you?--A. No, sir.
  Q. Is it the same form as the others?--A. Yes, sir; it is of the same form.
  Q. How many installments have you made?--A. I have paid two.
  Q. At what rate?--A. For the first six month at 2 cents an acre and after that 1¼ cents.
  Q. How did it come that there was a change in the rate of rent?--A. I do not understand the question exactly.
  Q. You say the first six months you paid 2 cents and after that you paid 1¼. For the first six months at 2 cents , that would be at the rate of 4 cents per year, and the next would be at the rate of 2½ cents a year?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Why did you pay 2 cents for the first six months?--A. Well, sir, at the time of the first payment they did not know how many acres would be in the lease, and they collected 2 cents so as to have a plenty of money in the treasury to pay the $50,000 for the first six months rent to the Cherokee Nation. All of this land is not surveyed, but there are a little over 5,500,000 acres in the Strip which have been surveyed.
  Q. How much has not been surveyed?--A. Well, sir, there is a good deal left out for quarantine purposes and for trails.
  Q. How much, do you think, is in the whole Strip?--A. Not far from 6,000,000 acres.
  Q. This lease was made for $100,000 for 5,000,000 acres; that would be 2 cents an acre, would it not?--A. Well, we paid them $100,000 a year.
  Q. What rate would that be/ Is it not at the rate of of 2 cents for 5,000,000 acres?--A. Well, sir; it wwould be 2 cents an acre.
  Q. Well, that is what I was getting at. What other relation besides that of lesee do you occupy toward this association?--A. I am the secretary of the association.
  Q. How long have you been secretary?--A. I was secretary ever since they had an association.
  Q. Were you secretary of the association that preceded this one?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. You were the secretary of the association of cattlemen. Did they get the lease?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. When was this?--A. I think it was in 18880 or 1881.
  Q. At the time of the getting of this lease the stockmen upon this land were paying som much per head, were they not?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Since the lease was made you have been acting as secretary?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. It is an incorporated association, is it not?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. You have had charge of the books?--A. Yes, sir; I have had the custody of the books.
  Q. Have you those books with you?--A. Yes, sir.
  Mr. Harrison. Now, get those books and state the total amount of money received by this association from the time of it's organization until now.
  (Witness produces books)
  Witness. There has been received $214,437.91.
  Q. Since the organization of the association to the present time, that is the total amount received?--A. Yes, sir.

  By Mr. Gorman:
  Q. Give the dates, commencing at the beginning and running up to the 1st of January-that is, from October, 1883, to January, 1885.

  By Mr. Harrison:
  Q. Is the rent all paid in?--A. No, sir; not at all.
  Q. Well, add to this the unpaid rent?--A. A few of the ranges are still in dispute, and the dispute has not been settled.
  Q. Well, I would like to get an estimate of the number of acres and the rental due from these parties?--A. A few paries have not paid up the last October payment, and some have owe the whole amount of rent.
  Q. How much is that?--A. I do not know how much it is.
  Q. Do you not keep account of them?--A. No, sir; I have no account of them. I have an account of every man who has paid any money in.
  Q. Have you no account with those who have not paid any?--A. No, sir.
  Q. Why?--A. Because, when a range is settled the parties come and get a lease and give their notes. There are a good many who ore occupying land who have not taken lease nor given any notes.
  Q. How many are those accupying?--A. I think about 500,000 or 600,000 acres.
  Q. What is the amount of money paid in already?--A. One hundred eighty thousand eight hundred and forty-three dollars.
  Q. How has this money been used?--A. One hundred fifty thousand dollars was used to pay the Cherokees the first six months rental.
  Q. What was the balance for?--A. The balance has been used for expenses.
  Q. Won't you give us the details of these expenses? How much, for instance, was paid for attorney fees?--A. I do not now the items.
  Q. What was the aggregate of them?--A. About $30,000.
  Q. Was that in addition to lawyers fees?--A. No, sir; that included lawyers fees and all.
  Q. Then all the expenses, in addition to rental paid, have been something over$30,000?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Aside from attorney's fees, what have been the expenses?--A. Well, sir, rewards have been pretty heavy.
  Q. But, i want to know what is the aggregate aside from the attorney's fees. I want to know how much was paid out for attorney fees and how much for rewards and other things?--A. Well, sir, I can give it to you.
  Q. Well, just make the calculation for me now?
  (witness proceeds to make the calculation.)
  A. How would it be to make an itemized account?
  Mr. Harrison. Well, you can do that for us; but at present I will pass on to something else.
  Q. Has this association borrowed any money?--A. I think not. when they first got the lease they collected money wherever they could, so as to have it on hand to make the first payment to the Cherokee Nation. At the time they did not know how many acres there would be, so they collected at the rate of 2 cents per acre. They might as well have borrowed it, because they paid interest to the different parties. If a man paid $500 he would get his receipt for $500, and when he came to pay his first assesment the $500 would be credited to his account.
  Q.You would know, would you not, if the company had borrowed any money?--A. Yes, sir; they do not owe any money. They have a plenty on hand.
  Q. How much have they on hand?--A. Something over $30,000.
  Q. How much over?--A. I think it is $34,000 or $35,000.
  Q. Was not a subscription taken up prior to the getting of this lease?--A. No, sir; I think not, except to pay inspectors and other legitimate expenses.
  Q. Was not money put into the hand of Mr. Drumm and Mr. Eldred before they went to the Territory?--A. I do not know of any.
  Q. Do you not know that a subscription was taken up to pay the expense of obtaining the lease?--A. They got up a subscription to pay inspectors and other expenses.
  Q. Was there not a subscription taken up at the time this lease was obtained?--A. Well, sir; I was on the range at the time.
  Q. You were the secretary of the association, were you not?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Have you here with you the books of the transactions of the association before the formation of the present association?--A. No, sir; we kept no account then. There was no account kept before the 1st of October, 1883.
  Q. You were acting as secretary, were you not?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Did you keep any account of it?--A. No, sir.
  Q. Did you not know of a subscription being taken up before Mr. Drumm and Mr. Eldred went to teh Territory to obtain the lease? Didn't you pay this?--A. Yes, sir; I paid in $500, but that was after the lease was obtained.
  Q. When was it you agreed to pay that amount in?--A. I paid just as quick as I was asked.
  Q. How much were you asked for?--A. I was asked for what I could spare.
  Q. And you paid $500?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Is there any account of that on the books?--A. No, sir; I think not. I paid $500, and I paid more on October the 1st, making, in all, $1,500.
  Q. That is on the books, is it not?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Did you settle with Major Drumm and Mr. Eldred for their expenses down in the Territory?--A. No, Sir.
  Q. Was not an account rendered to you?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Where is that?--A. It is in here.
  Q. What was the total of it?--A. I do not remember.
  Q. Look at your books and see.--A. One of the accounts was $146 and the other was 90 and some odd dollars.
  Q. Was that the total amount of money that went into their hands?--A. Yes, sir; that is all I know anything about.
  Q. Who did you pay that $500 to?--A. I paid it to Mr. bennett, who was the treasurer of the association at the time.
  Q. Is he here now?--  A. No, sir; he has been here.
  Q. You say you have how much money on hand?--A. Thirty-four or thirty-five thousand dollars.
  Q. The difference between the $180,00 and the $150,000 is in the hands of the treasurer now?--A.Yes, sir. I see by this book that Mr. Drumm and Mr. Eldred received $236.55.
  Q. Did each of them receive that, or both together?--A. Together they received that much.
  Q. Did you know, Mr. Blair, of any money being paid out or disbursed by this association or any member of it in connection with the procuring of this lease, except the small item of expense you referred to?--A. No, sir; except the attorney's fees.
  Q. How much attorney's fees has this association paid from it's organization to the time of procuring the lease?--A. I do not think any fees were paid until after we secured the lease. I do not know of any. Both of the sums I spoke of above were paid to these gentlemen in the last year.
  Q. After the lease was made, the association went to work and collected 2½ cents?--A. No, sir. Two cents for the first six months.
  Q. Was that collected at once, or did some time elapse while the lease was being made?--A. It was from some time in June until October getting it in.
  Q. What time did you date the payments from?--A. From theS time the lease was made
  Q. When was the lease made?--A. October first.
  Q. That was when the lease took effect?--A. Yes, sir. Before we got the lease we collected some money, that is-in the summer before we got the lease-so as to have some money to pay the Cherokee Nation the first installment on the lease. the association had no idea at that time how much land would be surveyed and they collected this amount of money, giving these parties credit for it.
  Q. what did you pay for rewards?--A. About $6,000, I think, for rewards, or between $5,000 and $6,000. We first offered a reward of $2,000 for the capture and conviction of thieves, then it came down to $1,000 and then to $500, where it stands now.
  Q. That was paid out as rewards for capturing thieves?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Who was that paid to-white men or Indians?--A. White men-United States marshals, sheriffs, and officers of that kind.
  Q. How is this money paid out, by warrant or by order?--A. The board of directors directs the payment.
  Q. Would they not direct you as secretary to draw a warrant on the treasurer?--A. No, sir; the treasurer pays it without a warrant, upon order from the president of the board. These are entered upon the minutes when the board meets and they order them paid. The treasurer is just told to pay them.
  Q.Do your books show that there is a balance on hand in your treasury?--A. Yes, sir; I know there is a balance on hand.
  Q. You know it has been collected?--A. Yes, sir; I know the threasurer has it.
  Q. How do you know it?--A. I do not know how I know, but I know.
  Q. Let us see if you do know it in the legal sense. You have to examine the bank-book?--A. No, sir.
  Q. But, you know the treasurer is chargeable with it?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. But whether it has ben paid out by him, you do not know it?--A. No, sir. There is no entry upon my books showing it has been paid out.
  Q. How much of this $214,000 was received the first six months after the organization?--A. About nineteen thousand and some odd thousand dollars.
  Q. When was the first payment made to the Cherokees?--A. The 27th or 28th of September, 1883. No, I am mistaken, it was paid the 1st of October.
  Q. How much money was on hand then?--A. After that was paid we must have had about thirty or forty thousand dollars.
  Q. That was over and above the first installment?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. What was done with that?--A. It was kept in the treasury.
  Q. Do you know what the object was in collecting ao much more money? nearly twice as much as was necessay?--A. They collected it so as to have enough on hand to pay the Cherokees, and to keep a plenty on hand in case of lawsuits, and if they needed money for other purposes?
  Q. It was specified in the sub-leases that any surplus should be returned?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. No, sir; but I suppose if the directors had not been compelled to come here they would have been fixing it for next March payment. they would have had it credited to the sub-lessees. I suppose they would have settled it in the spring.
  Q. Major Drumm and Mr. Eldred have leases themselves?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Have they paid in full or their leases?--A. I do not remember. I think one of them owes something on his lease. Some of these parties have not paid their last payment, because money was close last fall.
  Q. You don't know whether they have paid or not?--A. I will see.
  Chairman.Look and see if they paid. I want to know how.
  (Witness examines his books.)
  The Witness. Yes, sir; it was paid in money, and was $2,551.
  Q. Do you know when it was paid?--A. Yes, sir; Mr. Drumm handed me one of the checks himself.
  Q. Has any credit been allowed them on their rental for any services or disbursements?--A. No, sir.

  By Mr. Gorman:
  Q. Mr Blair, do you keep all the books of the association?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. After thelease with the Cherokees, it was dived up, was it not?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Into how many parts?--A. There are 102 companies and individuals.
  Q. That many ranges?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Now, what entry did you make on your books of the number os acres these lessees had?--A. We have a map which gives these lessees and the number of acres.
  Q. Now, when you came to enter it upon your books you entered the names of the parties who had the sub-leases, and the number of acres?--A. No, sir; everything is in the shape of notes.
  Q. How did you give credit for payments? Is there anything in the books to how the amounts due from each party ach six months?--A. No, sir. If you take the payment of each party and divide it by two you will find the number of acres each man has.
  Q. Will you furnish that to the committee?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. The name and number of acres?--A. Yes, sir; I can tell from that book how much it is, and I will give it to the committee.
  Q. These companies, which were formed to graze cattle, are represented by whom?--A. By a president, a secretary, and a manager.
  Q. Can you furnish that from the books?--A. I think I know them all.
  Q. Are these all the books you keep out in the Indian Territory?--A. Yes, sir; I did not open them till last spring.
  Q. These are not the original entries, then?--A. We have no original entries.
  Q. What do you mean by last spring?--A. I mean the spring of 1884, between February and April; somewhere in the spring. I stay on the range about half the time myself, and I just kept a memorandum on a little paper in the office.
  Q. These, are not the original entries on this journal?--A. It is all the journal I keep or have ever kept.
  Q. But, this is not the first entry of the payments originally made?--A. No, sir; that was just kept in a memorandum book. One day the treasurer called them off to me and I set them down.
  Q. You did not bring on that original blotter?--A. No, sir; I kept it on a piece of paper. I don't know what became of it.
  q. You made entries, then, from what the treasurer furnished you?--A. Yes, sir; when money was paid in he would tell me what it was and I would make the entry.
  Q. Is there any way you can furnish us with the direct amount due from each of these persons who have a sub-lease?
  The Witness. Do you mean what is due?
  Mr. Gorman. Yes, sir.
  The Witness.No, sir; don't think I could. Some of them are in dispute.
  Q. How much is due up to the 1st of June? Do you know what you owe?--A. Yes, sir; $948.15.
  Q. Can you tell what everbody else owes?--A. I can come near it.
  Q. Pretty near it?--A. Yes, sir; but I can't get the figure exactly.
  Q. You mean you kept this account so that you can tell how much each of these parties owes every six months?--A. All I do is put that note I spoke of in the bank.
  Q. You never put it on the books?--A. No, sir; I look over the notes and take a receipt from the bank to see how many are left.
  Q. What calculation do you make in reference to sub-leases?--A. I note the number of acres. I take the number at 2 cents for the first six months and at 1½ cents after that.
  Q. Don't you enter it on your ledger, jourmal, or blotter?--A. No, sir; neither the treasurer nor I knew much about keeping books.
  Q. How could you tell the condition of the accounts of your company; how would you make a balance sheet?--A. I could not do it very well.
  Q. You enter all te money you receive?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q, And all you pay out?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. And you do not enter how much is due the association, nor from whom it is due?--A. Yes, sir; I can tell exactly from the leases.
  Q. Originally when you divided it out was there not an understanding of the number of acres which each party was to have?--A. Well, sir; some man would claim a range, and may be another man would claim the same range. Sometimes a range was divided, if the arbitrators think that each is entitled to a range.
  Q. Was there not anything on your book to show who got the lease?--A. Yes, sir; all those who have leases and also the names of some who have not are entered in the book.
  Q. Can you furnish that?--A. Yes, sir; I can furnish it, but not of some ranges, because I do not know how many acres they contain.
  Q. But can't you state about how many?--A. Yes, sir; I think so. In the case of the Day Brothers the surveyors calculated a certain number of acres as belonging to that range, but the Day Brothers disputed it and said that the surveyors claimed to much. And in some of the cases where he leases are in dispute, some of the parties have paid up what they thought they ought to pay.
  Q. Can you furnish your estimate of the number of acres and the exact amount of money due from each?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Where do you get it from?--A. From the books.
  Q. It has been entered on the books?--A. Some have been entered and some have not been. The amount paid is entered there, and some partied who have not a lease yet pay what money they thought they ought to pay, and if they have paid to much it is paid back to them.
  Q. You spoke of a map with the ranges on it. Is it here?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. And the number of acres is on the map, too, I suppose?--A. No, sir; not on that map; on a map we have at home. When the surveyors get through with their work they bring in the number of acres; then we enter it.
  Q. Do you enter it on your books?--A. No, sir; we simply enter the amount of money the parties have paid.
  Q.Will you furnish a statement showing what each party has paid and what is still due?--A. Yes, sir.

  By the Chairman:
  Q. You stated the aggregate of acres on the lease. If you have the aggregate why can't you give the details?--A. I can come pretty near it.
  Q. Can you not give the details as near as you can the aggregate?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. So there is an uncertainty about the detailsthe same uncertainty applies to the aggregate. You did not seem to have any uncertainty about the aggregate when Mr. Harrison asked you the question.--A. No, sir.
  Q. When did this uncertainty about the details come; when he took to putting in questions you began to have an uncertainty. It was said that you would be able to give us the exact number of acres each lessee has.--A. I can do that with the exception of a few. It won't be a hundred thousand acres out of the way probably.

  By Mr. Gorman:
  Q. Who made this survey?--A. There were three surveyors. One was named Burgess,a nd the others were Walton and Wood; and they surveyed different parts, and the different parts made up the whole. One had one division and the others had other divisions, and each furnished a plat.
  Q. Did the association pay for it?--A. No, sir; sometimes the association had to send a surveyor to do cetain work-then the association paid him. Otherwise, each lessee paid the surveyor for surveying his own range.

 By the Chairman:
  Q. Then, if each lessee has paid a surveyor to survey his plot of ground and furnished that to you, is it uncetain about the number of acres each man has?--A. Well, sir, there is the range of the Day Brothers. Surveyoprs said there was about 200,000 acres, and they said they would not pay because the surveyors had estimated it to high.

  By Mr. Harrison:
  Q. The number of acres is specified in the leases so far as the leases were actually made?--A. Yes, sir; and some part of it has not been leased and no lease has issued, but at the same time the land has been occupied, and some is in dispute and not settled.
  Q. So the uncertainty is in regard to the land not leased but occupied in that way?--A. Yes, sir.

  By Mr. Gorman:
  Q. You can furnish a schedule of who occupies these pieces of land and whether they pay rent?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. You said that out of this $214,437.91 $150,000 was used for paying the first installment of rent to teh Cherokee Nation?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. And the rest for expenses?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q.When does the next payment occur?--A. The next payment comes in next March.
  Q. So that leaves over $30,000 on hand?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. And the rent and expenses up to this time have been $180,000.--A. Yes, sir.

  By Mr. Harrison:
  Q. Was there not some other book. You spoke of bringing here some smaller book in which you had made some memorandum of this matter?--A. I do not think so.
  Q. Did you not bring anything but this journal?--A. No, sir.
  Q. You have other memorandums, do you not?--A. yes, sir; we have day-books and blotters.
  Q.Is your blotter used as it is ordinarily used in a mercantile house?--A. No, sir; I have only one little book to put the October pay in. I keep it sometimes on ordinary paper.
  Q. Do you get a salary as secretary of the association?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. How much?--A. I get $1,500 salary.

  By the chairman:
  Q. You say you think everything was included in the notes you received?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. Describe them.--A. When the lease is settled we issue a lease to a man, and he gives his notes-one for each six months.
  Q. that is, he gives them all at one time for the entire five years?--A. Well, sir, the first payment was made in cash, and the rest were represented by notes.
  Q. Were they negotiable notes?--A.Yes, sir; made payable to one of the directors as trustee, or to his order, and about fifteen days before the notes are due they are put into the bank.
  Q. Who pays for the wire fences?--A. Each party pays for his own fence.
  Q. Without any superintendence on the part of the association?--A. Yes, sir. The association has nothing to do with it.
  Q. If they choose to keep land in common it is no business of the association/--A. No, sir. three of us are interested is a pasture which we occupy in common, becauseit is cheaper to build one fence around the whole, but we have three separate leases.
  Q. Then the amount of improvemnets left for the use of the Indians at the end of the five yearsdepends upon these seperate leases?--A. Yes, sir.
  Q. If in the end it was considered better to occupy this land in common there would not be much left for the Indians?--A. Well, sir; you cannot move a wire fence. It is cheaper to build a new one than to move it.
  The Chairman. If any member of the committee desires to examin the books during the day, or at a subsequent time, you will allow him to do so, and we will take up the examination afterwards.

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