U.S. Supreme Court
Thredgill v. Pintard, 53 U.S. 12 How. 24 24 (1851)
Thredgill v. Pintard
53 U.S. (12 How.) 24
Where a settler upon the public lands had a preemption right to them and sold them to a person who again sold them to a third party, the original vendor has a lien upon the land for the balance of the purchase money still due, and can enforce it by a bill in chancery notwithstanding the vendee has taken out a patent in his own name under a subsequent preemption law.
On 12 April, 1814, Congress passed an Act, 3 Stat. 122, § 5, giving a right of preemption to settlers upon certain portions of the public lands, under certain conditions, one of which was that the Indian title should have been extinguished.
A person by the name of Jane Matthers, claimed a right of preemption, under this act, to the southeast quarter of section one, township eighteen south, range one west, containing 168 96/100 acres, lying south of the Arkansas River.
On 24 August, 1818, the Indian title to this country became extinguished by the ratification of a treaty concluded with the Quapaw Indians.
Jane Matthers assigned her preemption right to Thomas T. Tunstall, but at what time the record did not show.
In 1833, an agreement was made for the sale of this land, between Tunstall and J. M. Pintard, which was not formally concluded until the ensuing year, but Pintard, with his family, moved upon the land in the autumn of 1833, and had several slaves engaged in clearing the land, making fences &c.
On 1 April, 1834, Tunstall executed a deed for the land to Pintard for the consideration of one thousand five hundred dollars cash, and covenanted to convey the legal title as soon as a patent should issue for it.
On 19 June, 1834, Congress passed an Act, 4 Stat. 678, declaring "That every settler or occupant of the public lands prior to the passage of this act who is now in possession and cultivated any part thereof in the year 1833" was entitled to a preemption.
On 24 July, 1834, a preemption right and certificate of purchase was granted and issued to Tunstall for the quarter section which he claimed under Jane Matthers under the preemption act of 1814 by the land officers at Little Rock.
On 23 March, 1835, Pintard sold the quarter section which he had purchased from Tunstall, together with part of an adjacent quarter section, which he had acquired in another way, chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
making two hundred acres in all, to William Rhodes, for the price of forty dollars per acre, binding himself to convey the same by a general warranty deed as soon as the patents could be procured. Rhodes executed two promissory notes for $4,000 each, the first due and payable on 1 March, 1836, and the second due on 1 March, 1837. Pintard then delivered possession of the land and improvements to Rhodes.
On 13 March, 1837, Rhodes sold the land which he had obtained from Pintard, together with some other land to Archibald Goodloe, the appellant in the present case, for sixty-five dollars per acre, being estimated to contain four hundred and fifty acres when accurately surveyed. Five thousand seven hundred dollars was to be paid in hand, and the balance was to be paid in sixty days, except the amount yet remaining unpaid by Rhodes for the purchase of said land, which was to be paid as soon as the title with general warranty should be regularly made to said Goodloe.
On 24 February, 1838, the Commissioner of the Land Office annulled the entry by Tunstall as assignee of Jane Matthers "inasmuch as the tract entered was not the property of the United States at the passage of the act under which the claim was made," viz., the Act of 12 April, 1814. He therefore cancelled the certificate and directed the register and receiver at Little Rock to refund the money to whoever might be entitled to receive the same.
On 28 March, 1838, Goodloe paid to Pintard the sum of $600, which was credited on the back of the note, which had become due on 1 March, 1836, given by Rhodes to Pintard.
On 22 June, 1838, Congress passed another preemption law, 5 Stat. 251, by which every settler of the public lands being the head of a family or over twenty-five years of age should be entitled to a preemption.
On 15 February, 1839, Goodloe proved his preemption right under the above law entirely for his own benefit.
On 31 May, 1839, Goodloe paid to Pintard the sum of $1,363.82, which was credited upon the same note given by Rhodes, upon which the preceding payment was credited.
On 9 April, 1840, Goodloe obtained his preemption right, and on 3 March, 1841, a patent was issued to him by the United States.
On 3 March, 1843, Congress passed an Act, 5 Stat. 603, extending to the settlers on the lands south of the Arkansas the same privileges which were granted by the act of 1814.
In March, 1842, Pintard, a resident of the State of Mississippi, chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
filed his bill in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Arkansas against Goodloe and Tunstall, praying for a decree against Goodloe for the remainder of the purchase money due to him upon the purchase of the tracts of land and claiming a lien thereon to have them subjected to sale for the payment of said money. It is not necessary to notice any other of the proceedings in the case than Goodloe's answer, which was filed in December, 1842. In it he resisted the claim against him principally on the ground that Pintard never had any good and valuable claim or title to the land, either in law or equity, and therefore Pintard was not entitled to demand and receive the consideration agreed to be paid. Goodloe claimed that he himself held the legal title derived directly from the United States.
In April, 1845, the cause came on for hearing upon bill, exhibits, answers, issues, and evidence, and was argued, and in April, 1847, a decree was passed that Goodloe should pay to Pintard the sum of ten thousand five hundred and fifty-two dollars, together with ten percent interest from the rendition of the decree till paid, that the two pieces of land mentioned in the proceedings should be charged with the payment, and that in default of payment by 1 November ensuing, the land should be sold, &c.
From this decree Goodloe appealed to this Court. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary