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MOORE V. BROWN, 52 U. S. 414 (1850)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Moore v. Brown, 52 U.S. 11 How. 414 414 (1850)

Moore v. Brown

52 U.S. (11 How.) 414


According to the statute of limitations passed by the State of Illinois, a defendant is ejectment who had been in possession of the land by actual residence thereon, having a connected title in law or equity deducible of record from the state or the United States or from any public officer or other person authorized by the laws of the state to sell such land for the nonpayment of taxes &c., might defend himself by pleading that he had been in possession as aforesaid for seven years.

But where a defendant offered a deed in evidence purporting to be a deed from an officer authorized to sell for taxes, and the deed upon its face showed that the officer had not complied with the requisitions of the statute, this was a void deed, made in violation of law, and did not bring the defendant within the benefit of the statute of limitations.

He must have a connected title from someone authorized to sell, and in this case the officer was not so authorized. The deed was not, therefore, admissible in evidence.

The whole case was contained in the certificate, which was as follows:

"The United States of America, District of Illinois"

"At a circuit court of the United States begun and held at Springfield, for the District of Illinois, on Monday, 7 June, in the year of our Lord 1847, and in the seventy-first year of our independence."

"Present, the Hon. John McLean and the Hon. Nathaniel Pope, Esquires."



"State of the Pleadings"

"This is an action of ejectment, brought under the statute of the State of Illinois, and plea not guilty of withholding the premises, according to the same statute."

"This cause coming to trial this term, the plaintiff proved title in himself, regularly derived from the United States, and by special agreement the possession of the defendants was admitted."

"The defendants then proposed to prove that they had been possessed of the premises in question by actual residence thereon, having a connected title thereto in law or equity, deducible of record from a public officer of the State of Illinois, authorized by the laws of the state to sell land for the nonpayment of taxes, for the term of seven years next preceding

Page 52 U. S. 415

the commencement of this suit, and as the first link of evidence towards making such proof, stating that they would follow it up by other complete proofs, offered in evidence a deed made by the Auditor of Public Accounts of the State of Illinois, which deed is in the words, figures, and seal following, to-wit:"

" The Auditor of Public Accounts of the State of Illinois, to all who shall see these presents, greeting:"

" Know ye that whereas I did, on 9 December, 1823, at the Town of Vandalia, in conformity with all the requisitions of the several acts in such cases made and provided, expose to public sale a certain tract of land, being the south half of section thirty-five, township twelve north, in range one west of the fourth principal meridian, for the sum of $10.81, being the amount of the tax of the years 1821 and 1822, with the interest and costs chargeable on said tract of land. And whereas, at the time and place aforesaid, Stephen Davis offered to pay the aforesaid sum of money for the whole of said tract of land, which was the least quantity bid for, and the said Stephen Davis has paid the sum of $10.81 into the Treasury of the state, I have granted, bargained, and sold, and by these presents, as auditor of the aforesaid state, do grant, bargain, and sell, the whole of said south half of section thirty-five, in township twelve north, in range one west of the fourth principal meridian to Stephen Davis, his heirs and assigns, to have and to hold said tract of land to the said Stephen Davis and his heirs forever, subject, however, to all the rights of redemption provided for by law."

" In testimony whereof, the said auditor has hereunto subscribed his name and affixed his seal this 20 June, 1832."

"J. T. B. STAPP, Auditor"

"State of Illinois, State Recorder's Office, ss."

" I certify that the within deed has been duly recorded in this office in Vol. F, page 281. Given under my hand and seal of office, at Vandalia, this 31 May, A.D. 1833."

"JAMES WHITLOCK, State Recorder"

Fees 43 3/4 record

37 1/2 cert. and seal


$0.81 1/4

"Which deed includes the premises in question in this suit, to the introduction of which deed the plaintiff objects on the ground that by reference to the face of the deed and the law as it then stood, 'An act entitled An Act for levying and collecting a tax on land and other property,' approved February 18, 1823, it appeared that the sale for the nonpayment of

Page 52 U. S. 416

taxes had been made by the auditor at an earlier day than he could according to law possibly do. And so it occurred as a question whether said deed was admissible in evidence for the purpose and in the connection for and in which the defendants offered it, the objection aforesaid notwithstanding, on which question the opinions of the judges were opposed. Whereupon, on motion that the point on which the disagreement has happened may during the term be stated under the direction of the judges and certified under the seal of the court to the Supreme Court, to be finally decided, it is ordered, that the foregoing statement of the case and facts, made under the direction of the judges, be certified according to the request of the plaintiff, and the law in that case made and provided. "

Page 52 U. S. 424

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