U.S. Supreme Court
Taylor v. Brown, 147 U.S. 640 (1893)
Taylor v. Brown
Argued and submitted January 9, 1893
Decided March 8, 1893
147 U.S. 640
In computing the time during which the alienation of public land acquired by an Indian under the provisions of § 16 of the Act of March 3, 1875, c. 131, 18 Stat. 402, is forbidden, the day of the issue of the patent should be included.
This was an action commenced by Taylor and Bidwell against Brown and Young, impleaded with others, in the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the Territory of Dakota, within and for the County of Moody, July 17, 1885, and in which an amended complaint was served March 1, 1886. The prayer of the complaint was that certain deeds should be adjudged and declared clouds on the plaintiffs' alleged title to one hundred and sixty acres of land therein described, and be decreed null and void and of no effect, and that the plaintiffs should be decreed to be the legal owners of the property. Young and Brown were the only parties served. They answered separately, requested separate findings in their favor, and the court found separately as to and against each of them, whereupon each moved for a new trial, and their motions being overruled and judgment being entered against them, took separate appeals to the supreme court of the territory
The cause was tried by the district court upon the admissions in the pleadings and the evidence adduced, and thereupon the court found, in brief, that on June 15, 1880, a patent issued to one Thomas K. West for the one hundred and sixty acres in question, and was duly recorded October 7, 1881. That on January 25, 1881, the patentee and his wife conveyed to defendant Young forty acres of the tract for valuable consideration, the receipt of which was acknowledged, and that Young entered into actual possession of the forty acres on chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
that date, and had ever since occupied, used, and cultivated the land, using and claiming the same in his own right adversely to all the world, and especially as against the plaintiffs, and had erected and made valuable permanent improvements thereon.
That on August 13, 1881, West conveyed to his wife eighty acres of the tract by deed bearing that date, acknowledging the receipt of a valuable consideration, and recorded October 7, 1881. That on August 15, 1881, Mrs. West conveyed to defendant Brown the eighty acres in consideration of the sum of $300 paid to her on that date. That Brown entered into actual possession of the eighty acres August 15, 1881, claiming it in his own right and title thereto under the deed to him and occupied, used, and cultivated the land, using and claiming the same in his own right from that date adversely.
That on June 15, 1885, by deed recorded that day, West and his wife conveyed the whole one hundred and sixty acres to Young for a valuable consideration, the receipt of which was acknowledged, and on the last-mentioned date Young entered into actual possession of the premises, claiming them in his own right and title thereto, and that since that date Young occupied and used the land, and had been in actual possession of the whole of it, using and claiming the same adversely.
That West and his wife on June 17, 1885, and from August 15, 1881, were not in the actual possession, or otherwise, of either the forty or the eighty acres. That West and his wife, on June 17, 1885, conveyed the land to C. E. Thayer, who on June 19 conveyed the one hundred and twenty acres to the plaintiffs. That neither said Thayer nor his wife were on June 19, or at any other time prior to or since that date, and at the time of the delivery of the deed to the plaintiffs, in actual possession of the forty acres, nor were they in actual possession of any part of the said tract.
That Thomas K. West was a Sioux Indian who had arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and who had abandoned his tribal relations and made satisfactory proof of such abandonment by taking an oath of allegiance to the United States chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
government, and who was entitled, under sections 15 and 16 of chapter 131 of the Laws of the United States, passed March 3, 1875, entitled "An act making appropriations to supply deficiencies in the appropriations for fiscal years ending June 30, 1875, and prior years, and for other purposes," to enter a homestead under the laws of the United States, and had entered said land under said laws and duly proved up on the same and received the patent referred to.
That the deeds to Young, Alfred Brown, and Sophia West were made within five years from the date of the patent to West by the United States. That the adverse possession of Brown and Young was entirely founded on conveyances that were absolutely null and void, and that the possession of Brown and Young of the premises, and the improvements made thereon, were made with full notice that West was an Indian, as previously found.
The court stated the following conclusions of law:
"I. That the land described in said patent was absolutely inalienable prior to the 16th day of June, 1885. That the deeds from Thomas K. West to Timothy Young of January 25, 1881, June 15, 1885, and from Thomas K. West to Sophia West of August 13, 1881, and from Sophia West to Alfred Brown of August 15, 1881, are null and void."
"II. That the deed from Thomas K. West and Sophia West to C. E. Thayer on the 17th day of June, 1885, and the deed from C. E. Thayer and wife to S.S. Taylor and S. A. Bidwell, are good and valid conveyances, and conveyed the title of said premises to the said plaintiffs."
"III. That the plaintiffs, S.S. Taylor and S. A. Bidwell, are the owners of said premises."
The supreme court of the territory reversed the judgment of the district court and remanded the cause with directions to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint. The opinion will be found in 5 Dak. 335. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary