U.S. Supreme Court
McCreery v. Haskell, 119 U.S. 327 (1886)
McCreery v. Haskell
Argued November 12, 1886
Decided December 6, 1886
119 U.S. 32
Where, under the eighth section of the Act of July 23d 1866, "to quiet land titles in California," a survey is made by the United States Surveyor General for California of a claim to land under a confirmed Mexican grant, and land is set off by him in satisfaction of the grant, the survey is operative without the approval of the Commissioner of the General Land Office. Land lying outside of such survey then becomes subject to state selection in lieu of school sections covered by the grant, and is open to settlement under the preemption laws.
As between the state and the settler, the party which first commences the proceedings required to obtain the title, if they are followed up to the final act for its transfer, is considered to have priority of right. The rule prevails in such cases, first in time, first in right.
For lands selected by the State of California, it has not been the practice of the Land Department to issue patents. When the selections are approved by the Secretary of the Interior, a list of them, with the certificate of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, is forwarded to the state authorities. This listing operates to transfer the title to the lands, as of the date their the selections were made and reported to the local land office, and cuts off all subsequent claimants. Accordingly, where a selection was made in 1868, which was subsequently approved by the Secretary of the Interior, and the lands were listed to the state by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, a patent for the same lands issued upon a settlement made in December, 1869, under the preemption laws, conferred no title as against the state.
This was an action for the possession of land. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.