Galliher v. Cadwell
145 U.S. 368 (1892)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Galliher v. Cadwell, 145 U.S. 368 (1892)

Galliher v. Cadwell

No. 265

Argued April 1, 1892

Decided May 16, 1892

145 U.S. 368

Syllabus

Laches does not, like limitation, grow out of the mere passage of time. but it is founded upon the inequity of permitting the claim to be enforced -- an inequity founded upon some change in the condition or relations of the property or the parties.

G. made a homestead entry in Washington Territory in 1872. He died in 1873. The entry was cancelled in 1879 for want of final proof within the seven years. In 1880, the Act of June 15, 1880, was passed, 21 Stat. 236, c. 227, authorizing persons who had made homestead entries to entitle themselves to the lands on paying the government price therefor. G.'s widow made application for a patent under this act, and her application was rejected. In 1881, W. entered the tract, and in 1852 received a patent for it. In 1884, the widow made an application for a rehearing under the act of 1830, and her application was rejected in the same year. The land having greatly increased in value by the growth of the City of Tacoma, C., claiming through conveyances from W., filed a bill to quiet title, making the widow a defendant. The widow answered setting up as a prior right the homestead entry.

Held:

(1) That it was doubtful whether the widow of G. was entitled to the benefit of, the Act of June 15, 1880, but that, without deciding that question,

(2) In view of the rapid and enormous increase in value of the tract and her knowledge of all the circumstances, which must be assumed from her near residence to the property, a court of equity would not disturb a title legally perfect, created by the general government after a decision adverse to any reservation of the homestead right and on the faith of which costly improvements had been made.

Page 145 U. S. 369

The Court stated the case as follows:

On March 1, 1886, appellee, claiming to be the owner of what is known as "Votaw's Addition to the City of Tacoma," in the then Territory of Washington, filed her bill in the district court to quiet her title to such property, making, with several others, as a defendant the present appellant. Such appellant answered, alleging a right prior and superior to that of appellee. Appellee's title was derived by regular conveyances from Francis B. H. Wing, who, on December 20, 1881, entered this land, and on April 20, 1882, received a patent therefor from the United States. Her legal title was therefore perfect, and the single question presented was whether appellant had an equity superior to that legal title. In appellant's behalf, these general facts appeared: on August 10, 1872, Silas Galliher, her husband, made a homestead entry of the tract. He died April 18, 1873, and his entry was cancelled December 4, 1879, for want of final proof within the statutory period of seven years. On June 15, 1880, an act was passed by Congress of which the following is the second section:

"SEC. 2. That persons who have heretofore, under any of the homestead laws, entered lands properly subject to such entry, or persons to whom the right of those having so entered for homesteads may have been attempted to be transferred by bona fide instrument in writing, may entitle themselves to said lands by paying the government price therefor, and in no case less than one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, and the amount heretofore paid the government upon said lands shall be taken as part payment of said price, provided this shall in no wise interfere with the rights or claims of others who may have subsequently entered such lands under the homestead laws."

21 Stat. 237.

On November 23, 1880, Mrs. Galliher made application for the land under this act. On June 1, 1881, her application was rejected by the Secretary of the Interior. On June 6, 1884, she petitioned for a rehearing, which, on June 20, 1884, was denied. No other action was taken by her to establish or assert any rights until, in response to the bill in this case, she

Page 145 U. S. 370

filed her answer. Upon the proofs, the trial court rendered a decree in favor of the appellee which was sustained by the supreme court of the territory. From such decision, appellant brought her appeal to this Court.

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