|Testimony taken by the Committee on Indian Affairs|
J. A. BLAIR.
Washington, D. C., January 26, 1885.J. A. BLAIR sworn and examined.
By Mr. Harrison :
Question. Mr. Blair, you stated that these two books, this journal and ledger, were the books of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association?—Answer. Yes, sir; when a man gave his note and got his lease, that was all he had to do. That stood for what he had, and his notes represented the account we kept with him, and the notes were placed in bank for collection.
Q. You have opened an account with these lessees?—A . Yes, sir; charging them with the rental and crediting them with the money they paid.
Q. State what the total number of acres leased by your association to the members of it is?—A. Well, sir, I can tell the exact amount leased. Five million two hundred and sixty-nine thousand nine hundred and seventy-six acres have been leased.
Q. How many more acres are in the occupancy of the members, but have not been surveyed accurately?—A. Very near 753,000 acres, making a total of land leased and occupied of 5,619,976 acres.
Q. How much is taken up by the trails and quarantine stations?—A. Seven or eight hundred thousand acres, I think.
Q. Will you state the total amount of money received by your association from the lessees, and then the amount estimated to be due, and then give your items of expense?—A. Two hundred and twelve thousand three hundred and eighty-six dollars and fifteen cents has been received from leases which have been surveyed.
Q. That is up to the 1st of January?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Now give the amount estimated as due from other leases not accurately determined?—A. That is $26,671.52.
Q. That includes what the members owe?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Does that include the annual dues?—A. That is simply the rental. There are now no annual dues.
Q. That makes the total of the money you have received?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. What have you received for membership?—A. We have received $1,390 for membership.
Q. What is the total from the rental?—A. Two hundred and forty thousand four hundred and forty-seven dollars and sixty-seven cents.
Q. Now, what are your items of expenses?—A. We have paid the Cherokee Nation $150,000; attorneys, $5,385; for rewards, $5,334; for inspectors, $3,727.65; for salaries, $0,333.65; and for other expenses, $7,062.70.
Q. What do those "other expenses" embrace?—A. I can show it on the book (witness examines his book). That money was spent for stationery, printing, advertising, surveying, rent for office, and safe. Nearly $1,000 has been refunded to parties who did not get a lease, but paid in with the expectation that they were to receive a lease in the eastern part of the strip. A good many parties on the State line claimed the same piece of land, and all paid expecting to get it, but the Board, of course, could not give it to all of them.
Q. Yon have on hand how much cash did you say?—A. Thirty-two thousand nine hundred and thirty-three dollars and fifteen cents.
Q. Your next payment of $50,000 to the Cherokee Nation is due the 1st of April, is it not?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. What will the quarterly rental be?—A. About $70,000.
Q. So you will have, if all pay in, when your next payment comes, about $130,000.—A. Yes, sir; if all pay who are behind now the 1st of April there will be $130,000 ahead.
Q. The surplus will be something like $80,000 in the treasury?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Your books do not show what money was collected by the association, or whatever you call it, that preceded this organization?—A. No, sir.
Q. Were you secretary of that organization?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you keep any books?—A. No, sir; the treasurer collected money to pay inspectors and other expenses.
Q. You do not know what money he did collect?—A. No, sir.
Q. You kept no account of it?—A. No, sir; he kept that also. But when this association was formed the treasurer was in debt $236.
Q. That is, he owed somebody that amount?—A. Yes, sir; he paid that much.
Q. And you afterwards paid that back to him?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. That balance was in his favor as treasurer of the preceding organization, which this association assumed and paid to him?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Do you know any reason, Mr. Blair, why the association should rent upon such terms as to produce such a surplus above the rentals they have to pay?—A. Yes, sir. At the time of the lease the parties agreed to collect 2½ cents per acre. They did not know then how many acres there would be. They supposed it would be 6,000,000 acres, but they wanted to have plenty of money to pay the rental promptly and other expenses. I think the association owes now three or four thousand dollars of attorneys' fees.
Q. Can you tell upon the amount of land surveyed or not, but occupied by members of the association, what rental per acre they would need to pay the expenses of the association?—A. Yes; a little over 2 cents per acre.
Q. A little over 2 cents?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. What have they been paying?—A. Two and a half cents.
Q. Do you think 2 cents an acre on the whole amount you have subleased would pay the rental to the Cherokees and cover the ordinary expenses of the association?—A. Yes, sir; but this coining spring there will be lots of the lessees that cannot pay their notes, and the association will have to carry them, the parties paying interest on them after the 15th day of March. The weather will kill lots of cattle, and the cattlemen cannot borrow like they used to in that country; the times are too hard. The association will have to carry one-third of the members until summer, when they sell some cattle.
Q. Have you items of the account of those two gentlemen—Drumm and Eldred—who went to the Cherokee Nation to procure the leases ?—A. No, sir.
Q. Was any itemized statement given to you?—A. No, sir; they just said what their expense was, and they were allowed $242, I think.
Q. No itemized statement was made up of it?—A. No, sir; it was very reasonable, and we did not say anything about it.
Q. You do not know whether any of these persons who have rented a part of this land have made any advances to the treasurer?—A. No, sir.
Q. You do not know that they have?—A. No, sir.
Q. Was not credit given to Major Drumm and Mr. Eldred on account of money advanced to them?—A. No, sir; I do not know of any.
Q. Did they pay their notes?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. How?—A. I saw Major Drumm make two of his payments; I saw the first one and the last one; it was paid by check. They nearly all pay by checks.
Q. Will you furnish to the clerk of the committee all the receipts and expenditures of this association, the number of acres in the leases, and the names of the sublessees?—A. Yes, sir.
Mr. Blair recalled the same day.
By Mr. Gorman:
Question. Now, Mr. Blair, won't you look at the statement which you furnished us this morning, giving the total number of acres leased to various parties in this lease, and give me about the exact number of acres that were actually leased?—Answer. Four million eight hundred and sixty-six thousand nine hundred and seventy-six acres have been actually leased.
Q. How many acres have not been leased?—A. Seven hundred and fifty-three thousand acres, or about that.
Q. When you say not leased you mean by that that the estimate of the number of acres that the various parties occupy, such as Day Brothers, Campbell, and others, is really not accurate?—A. Yes, sir; but they are pretty near accurate.
Q. So that you make a total, putting together both of these items, 5,619,976 acres?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Now, in addition to that, you estimate how much in the strip occupied by trails and quarantine stations?—A. I think I gave it in this morning as about 800,000 acres.
Q. About 800,000 acres?—A. Yes, sir; I think I gave it in at that amount this morning.
Q. How many members are there in this association?—A. About one hundred, I think, as it stands to-day.
Q. Can you give us what is due from each of the parties?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Give us the amount due and the amount paid in by these parties?—A. I stated this morning that we have received $212,386.15 for leases.
Q. And there is due from land not exactly settled, how much?—A. Twenty-six thousand six hundred and seventy-one dollars and fifty-two cents.
Q. And you have received from membership, how much?—A. One thousand three hundred and ninety dollars.
Q. Making a total of how much?—A. Two hundred and forty thousand four hundred and forty-seven dollars and sixty-seven cents.
Q. Now, give the amount due from all sources. First give the exact number of acres which you have leased, or from which you derive revenue?—A. It is about 5,619,976 acres.
Q. What would be the gross revenue from the date of the lease to the last quarter? When was the last payment?—A. Last September. Two hundred and forty-four thousand eight hundred and ninety-six dollars and ninety-five cents was the gross amount.
Q. Now, Mr. Blair, your payments were $180,843, I think?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Leaving a balance, in addition to that you received for membership, which was $1,390, in your treasury, due to your company, of $65,442.92?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. I think you told me that about 400,000 acres were not leased the first six months.—A. Yes, sir; about 400,000 acres, I think.
Q. There was no pay for that for the first six months?—A. No, sir.
Q. Your gross receipts from the lease of the land ought to have been $252,898.92?—A. Yes. sir.
Q. About $8,000 was not paid in the first six months?—A. No, sir.
Q. Is this a complete list of the lessees of that land?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. And the number of acres actually ascertained or estimated?—A. Yes, sir. Three pages are accurate. Page No. 4 is estimated. (See "documents.")
Q. The first three pages are accurate?—A. Yes, sir; according to surveys made.
Q. Now, Mr. Blair,I want to come back to the books, to this journal and this ledger. When was the first entry made in these identical books?—A. I don't remember the exact date, but it was in the spring, some time in February or March.
Q. Of what year?—A. Eighteen hundred and eighty-four.
Q. That will be only a year this spring?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. These books were then actually Opened this spring a year ago?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. And all the entries were made in them by yourself?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Where did you get these books?—A. At Caldwell, Kans., at Horner's drug-store.
Q. You made all the entries yourself, you say?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. That was in January, February, or March, 1884?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. How did you keep your account before that?—A. I kept a blotter.
Q. When did you become secretary of the association?—A. When it was first organized, in the spring or in the month of March, 1883.
Q. You obtained the lease in May, 1883?—A. No, sir; it was March, 1883.
Q. You organized your association in March, and obtained the lease in May?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. You were secretary of the association?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. What has become of the books?—A. No books were kept. The treasurer would collect money from any man who had it to pay, and give him a receipt for the amount he paid. He commenced to collect this money some time before the lease was obtained, so that we might have money in the treasury. I paid in $500, I think, in June, and in the last part of September, just before we had to make a payment, I paid in a thousand dollars. I had, as I said, paid $500 before, and I had to pay $1,017 more.
Q. No books were kept?—A. No, sir; we used simply a blotter. I think we collected $63,000 one day, and just kept it on paper until I could put down the payments on the books. The directors said there was no use to keep an account with these men, because when they got the lease they would give a note for the payment of the rent. We then put the notes in bank.
Q. You did not keep any books from the organization of the company until the year after, that is, in January or February of the following year?—A. When Mr. Bennett, the treasurer, collected any money, he would give a receipt, as I have said before.
Q. Didn't he enter the amounts of money at all?—A. No, sir; he kept the money in bank.
Q. Was Mr. Bennett the first treasurer?—A. Yes, sir; he was the first treasurer.
Q. What bank did he make the deposit in?—A. The Stock Exchange Bank at Caldwell.
Q. So you could only tell from the bank account?—A. Well, he kept a memorandum book. When a man would pay anything, he would put it down.
Q. What became of these memorandum books? Has he kept them?—A. I do not know.
Q. What did he make these entries on if he did not have some book?—A. We just kept the memorandums in a pigeon hole.
Q. These books are not the original entries, but are copied from slips and memorandums?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Then you have no entry of any payments prior to the organization of the present association?—A. No, sir.
Q. Yon had some receipts, some one testified here, before this company was organized?—A. I do not know anything about that, sir. Mr. Bennett used to collect money for inspectors, &c., I know.
Mr. Gorman. The president of the association swore that the company passed the hat around, and that credit was afterwards given for overpayment's. Who kept these memorandums?
The Witness. Mr. Bennett.
Q. You did not keep them?—A. No, sir; I remember paying $500 in advance. It was the first cattle that I shipped.
Q. Was that before or after the organization of the company?—A. It was after the organization of the company. I think most of the parties paid after the organization of the company.
Q. So there is no way to get at these accounts, except through the bank at Caldwell?—A. I suppose so; Mr. Bennett kept his money and the treasury money, too, in one account in the bank.
Q. Who is the cashier of the bank?—A. Charlie Moore.
Q. What did you say the name of the bank was?—A. The Stock Exchange Bank, at Caldwell, Kansas.
Q. So these entries are simply made from slips you had?—A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you preserve all the slips?—A. Yes, sir; I saved them until I could get time to put them in the books.
Q. You could not swear that it was an exact statement of the financial affairs of the company?—A. Pretty near it.
Q. But you would not like to swear to it?—A. Well, sir, some of the payments have not been made yet and are simply estimated.
Q. You rely exclusively upon the notes that were given?—A. Yes, sir; a man gave us a note for each six months' payment, and that was the end of it.
Q. There Is no entry showing how many acres each of these parties had, and how much is due for them?—A. Well, sir, I just take one-half of the amount of the payments, as the number of acres—that is, at 2 cents an acre.
Q. So in your journal and ledger the only entries, as a rule, are the amounts of money paid by these parties?—A. Yes, sir; I have a map with the number of acres each man has.
Q. These books were first opened in January or February, 1884?—A. Yes, sir; some time before the March meeting. We have a general meeting when the notes are due.
Q. Have you furnished the committee, as near as you can, the names of the various cattle companies who are using this land?—A. Yes, sir; this book which I have in my hand is the best information I can give upon the subject.
Mr. Gorman. I wish you would file one of these books.
The Witness. I will, sir.
(Witness leaves with clerk a book entitled "Southwestern Brand Book; containing the marks and brand of the cattle and horse raisers of Southwestern Kansas, Indian Territory, and the Pan-Handle of Texas for the round-up of 1884.")
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