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U.S. Supreme Court

Chapman & Dewey Lumber Co. v. St. Francis Levee Dist., 232 U.S. 186 (1914)

Chapman & Dewey Lumber Company v. St. Francis Levee District

No. 82

Argued December 12, 1913

Decided January 26, 1914

232 U.S. 186


Whether particular lands patented by the United States to a state have passed from the latter to one or the other of two persons claiming adversely through the state is a question of local law, but whether the patent from the United States embraced the lands is a federal question.

Where public lands are patented "according to the official plat of the survey returned to the General Land Office by the Surveyor General," the notes, lines, landmarks, and other particulars appearing upon the plat become as much a part of the patent, and are as much chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 232 U. S. 187

to be considered in determining what it is intended to include, as if they were set forth in it.

The specification in a patent of the acreage of the land conveyed is an element of the description, and, while of less influence than other elements, is yet an aid in ascertaining what land was intended.

A patent for "the whole" of a township "according to the official plat of the survey" is here construed, in view of what appeared upon the plat and of the acreage specified in the patent, as embracing the whole of the surveyed lands in the township, but not an unsurveyed area, approximating 8,000 acre, which was represented upon the plat as a meandered body of water.

The Swamp Land Act of 1850, in itself, passed to the state only an inchoate title, and not until the lands were listed and patented under the act could the title become perfect.

The compromise and settlement negotiated in 1895 between the United States and the State of Arkansas whereby the latter relinquished it inchoate title to all swamp lands not theretofore patented, approved, or confined to it is binding on the St. Francis Levee District as a subordinate agency of the state. Little v. Williams, 231 U. S. 335.

100 Ark. 94 reversed.

The facts, which involve the construction of a patent for swamp lands to a state and the extent of the lands conveyed thereby, are stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 232 U. S. 194

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