Duncan v. Navassa Phosphate Co.Annotate this Case
137 U.S. 647 (1891)
U.S. Supreme Court
Duncan v. Navassa Phosphate Co., 137 U.S. 647 (1891)
Duncan v. Navassa Phosphate Company
Submitted January 9, 1891
Decided January 19, 1891
137 U.S. 647
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED
STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
The right conferred by the United States, under the Guano Islands Act of August 18, 1856, c. 164, Rev.Stat. Tit. 72, upon the discoverer of a deposit of guano and his assigns, to occupy at the pleasure of Congress, for the purpose of removing the guano, an island determined by the President to appertain to the United States is not such an estate in land as to be subject to dower, notwithstanding the Act of April 2, 1572, c. 81, Rev.Stat. § 5572, extending the provisions of the act of 1856 "to the widow, heirs, executors or administrators of such discoverer."
This was a petition for dower in a guano island. The Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Maryland, upon the bill of a citizen of Maryland against the Navassa Phosphate Company, a corporation of New York doing business in Maryland, having appointed receivers of all its property within the jurisdiction of the court, Isabella Duncan of Baltimore, in the State of Maryland, filed in the cause a petition containing the following allegations and prayer:
"1st. That she is the widow of Peter Duncan, late of Baltimore City, in the State of Maryland, and now deceased, having been married to said Peter Duncan on December 19, 1850, and said Peter Duncan having died on January 26, 1875."
"2d. That on July 1, 1857, her late husband, said Peter Duncan, discovered a deposit of guano on an island in the Caribbean Sea not within the lawful jurisdiction of any government and not occupied by the citizens of any government, said island being called Navassa, and lying in latitude 18
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