Public Schools Lands Survey

What does it mean when you see the legal description as "Public Schools Lands Survey"?

Hi Dannah -

I will be happy to answer all of your questions and do not mind taking the time.

School Lands were given to the different County Schools Boards to sell for money to build and fund schools. The University Land Board, for example, owns lands and minerals throughout the State. Money from the sale of those lands and royalties from production from those lands goes towards building and operating the various State Colleges and Universities.

In the same manner, Railroad Company Lands were given to the Railroads so they had something of value to back up their Bonds to raise money for Steel and timber and labor to build the railroads.


In addition, many of those public school lands carry usage designations. From the 1876 Constitution until the early 1930s, there were differing views on ownership of minerals in those lands and ultimately settled in a series of “relinquishment acts.” So some parcels awarded within periods of time carry no mineral interests but the “owner of the soil” (surface) acts as the agent for the State and shares in bonus and royalties on a 50-50 basis. Other designations like “free royalty” mean the State retained a carried interest of some percentage–usually 1/16 in my experience. So in the older leases, a 1/8 royalty would be shared 50/50. Google the relinquishment acts for interesting reading. Also, the University Land website has a handy listing of “damages” which they update periodically. I find it helpful in evaluating pipeline right of ways, etc.