Cragin v. Powell
128 U.S. 691 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cragin v. Powell, 128 U.S. 691 (1888)

Cragin v. Powell

No. 41

Argued and submitted October 26, 1888

Decided December 17, 1888

128 U.S. 691

Syllabus

When lands are granted according to an official plat of their survey, the plat, with its notes, lines, descriptions and landmarks becomes as much a part of the grant or deed by which they are conveyed, and, so far as limits are concerned, controls as much as if such descriptive features were written out on the face of the deed or grant.

It is not within the province of a circuit court of the United States or of this Court to consider and determine whether an official survey duly made, with a plat thereof flied in the district land office, is erroneous, but with an exception referred to in the opinion, the correction of errors in such surveys has devolved from the earliest days upon the Commissioner of the General Land Office, under the supervision of his

Page 128 U. S. 692

official superior, and his decisions are unassailable by the courts except in a direct proceeding instituted for that purpose.

When the General Land Office has once made and approved a governmental survey of public lands, the plats, maps, field notes and certificates having been filed in the proper office, and has sold or disposed of such lands, the courts have power to protect the private rights of a party who has purchased in good faith from the government, against the interferences or appropriations of subsequent corrective resurveys made by the Land Office.

One who acquires land knowing that it covers a portion of a tract claimed by another will be held either not to mean to acquire the tract of the other or will be considered to be watching for the accidental mistake of others and preparing to take advantage of them, and as such not entitled to receive aid from a court of equity.

This was a proceeding under a local statute of Louisiana for the purpose of ascertaining the boundary line between coterminous proprietors. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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