Indiana v. Kentucky
163 U.S. 520 (1896)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Indiana v. Kentucky, 163 U.S. 520 (1896)

Indiana v. Kentucky

Argued April 27, 1896

Decided May 18, 1896

163 U.S. 520



The report of the commissioners appointed October 21, 1895, 159 U. S. 159 U.S. 276, to run the disputed boundary line between Indiana and Kentucky is confirmed.

The commissioners appointed on the 21st day of October, 1895, 159 U. S. 159 U.S. 275, to run the disputed boundary line between the states of Indiana and of Kentucky, reported as stated below. The Kentucky filed exceptions to the report. The Indiana moved to confirm it.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER announced the decree of the Court.

This cause came on to be heard on the report of Gustavus V. Menzies, Gaston M. Alves, and Amos Stickney, commissioners

Page 163 U. S. 521

appointed herein at this term, on October 21, 1895, to ascertain and run the boundary line between the States of Kentucky and Indiana, as designated in the opinion of this Court heretofore filed, and judgment and decree heretofore entered herein, May 19, 1890, filed April 27, 1896, the exceptions of the State of Kentucky thereto, and the motion of the State of Indiana for the confirmation thereof, and which report is as follows:



n the Supreme Court of the United States"

"October Term, 1895."




"To the Honorable Melville W. Fuller, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States:"

"The undersigned commissioners, appointed by this Honorable Court in the above-entitled cause to ascertain and run the boundary line between the States of Indiana and Kentucky north of the tract known as 'Green River Island' have the honor to present the following report:"

"The first meeting of the commission was held at Evansville, Indiana, on December 7th, 1895, all the commissioners being present, and, each commissioner having been sworn according to the order of the Court, the commission organized by electing Lieut. Col. Amos Stickney, U.S. army, as chairman."

"At this meeting there were present Mr. R. H. Cunningham, of Henderson, Ky., representing the State of Kentucky; Mr. Merril Moores, Deputy Attorney General of the State of Indiana, representing that state, and Mr. J. E. Williamson, of Evansville, Indiana, representing a number of landowners along the line where the boundary is to be ascertained and run."

"The above-mentioned gentlemen, being invited thereto, expressed their views in a general way as to a proper method of determining the boundary line to be run between the States of Indiana and Kentucky to accord with the decision of this Court. Neither in the order of your Honorable Court

Page 163 U. S. 522

appointing the commissioners nor subsequently were your commissioners instructed as to the methods they should pursue in ascertaining the boundary line to be run. They therefore assumed that it was the intention of the Court to leave them untrammeled with instruction other than such as were to be inferred -- first, from the decision of the Court and second from the testimony upon which that decision was made."

"Your commissioners then proceeded to, and made a personal examination of, the grounds where the boundary line was to be ascertained and run. After this examination and a consideration of the subject in the light of the court's decision and the testimony, it was concluded that a determination of a proper location of the boundary line would require the marking out upon the ground, as nearly as possible, of the meandered river bank lines of the survey of Jacob Fowler, made in 1805 and 1806, the oldest survey of record, copies of the map and notes of which were incorporated and unchallenged in the testimony in the case."

"A competent surveyor was employed in the person of Mr. C. C. Genung, surveyor of Vanderburgh County, Indiana, who was familiar with the county records and the landmarks in the vicinity of the proposed line. Mr. Genung was instructed to proceed as soon as possible, under the direction of the chairman, to reestablish upon the ground, as nearly as practicable, the aforesaid meander line of the survey of 1805 and 1806, using every precaution to determine said line as accurately as might be from the notes of the survey and such marks referred to in the notes, and other authenticated marks as might be found."

"He was also directed to make cross-sections at intervals by leveling across the depression now existing where the island chute once was, and determine the present crests of the banks."

"Mr. Genung performed the duty allotted to him, and made a map exhibiting the result of his surveys."

"Your commissioners, after verifying his work on the ground, then held another meeting at Evansville, Indiana, January

Page 163 U. S. 523

22nd, 1896, and made a careful study of the information obtained by the survey. An examination of the map presented by Mr. Genung, giving the results of his survey, with a report upon the same, satisfied your commissioners on three points: the close accord of the reestablished meander line with the existing crest of the high bank was strong proof that the line as reestablished was in fact a very close approximation in location to the location of the line as originally run. It also indicated that the original meander line was practically along the crest of the high water bank, and not along the low water line, and further that the crest of the bank along the Indiana side of the depression as it exists today must be nearly as it was at the time of the original survey."

"It will be noticed from the topography on the map that the crest of the high water bank on the Indiana side of the depression is quite regular, while the crest of the bank on the island side, especially above the railroad crossing, is irregular, indicating, probably, extensive deposits since the time when there was a free flowing stream around the island. In the testimony there are mentions of drift piles in the upper part of the chute, causing deposits."

"Below the railroad crossing, the crests of the two banks are nearly parallel, and, as scaled on the map where most nearly parallel, are about eight chains apart. It would seem probable that the chute, before it was choked up by drifts and deposits, had a width, more or less uniform, of about eight chains, between crests of the high bank. During low water stages, the part of the chute covered by water was probably nearly in the center of the chute. Just how far the low water surface extended towards the Indiana side it is impossible at this time to determine accurately, but it would seem that a close approximation to the water line would be a line equidistant from the Indiana bank crest line and the central line of the chute. Upon this assumption, the water of a low stage would have covered the middle half of the space between the crest of the high banks, and a fair allowance should be made for the space covered by the bank slopes extending from the crests of the high banks to the low water line. "

Page 163 U. S. 524

"It was decided then to lay out as a trial line a line parallel to the meander line of the survey of 1805 and 1806, as reestablished, and at a distance of two chains from it, measured towards the island. This was done, and notification was sent to Hon. W. A. Ketcham, Attorney General of the State of Indiana; Mr. R. H. Cunningham, representing the State of Kentucky, and Mr. J. E. Williamson, representing landowners. The above-mentioned gentlemen were invited to present in writing, if they so desired, any statements to prove that such line was not approximately the low water line in the year 1792. They were also invited to make any oral argument relating thereto to your commissioners at their next meeting."

"On February 3rd, 1896, your commissioners again met at Evansville, Indiana, and proceeded to inspect the trial line as laid out and marked upon the ground. After their inspection, they held a meeting, due notice of which had been given to the aforementioned gentlemen representing the different interests."

"Mr. R. H. Cunningham, on behalf of the State of Kentucky, appeared and had no particular objections to urge against the approximate line, but filed a request, which is herewith transmitted, marked 'Exhibit A.' Mr. J. E. Williamson sent a communication, which is transmitted with this report, and marked 'Exhibit B.'"

"After further consideration of the subject, it was decided that your commissioners were not authorized to lay down any line beyond the upper and lower limits of Green River Island as it existed in 1792, and it was decided to adopt for recommendation the trial line within those limits as marked, with a slight change at the extreme upper end to allow for what was undoubtedly a flat bank slope, it being upon a point."

"Your commissioners would therefore respectfully state that they have now ascertained and run, according to their best judgment, the boundary line between Indiana and Kentucky, north of the tract known as 'Green River Island' as it existed when Kentucky became a state, which is described as follows, to-wit: "

Page 163 U. S. 525

"Commencing at a point on the line between sections fifteen (15) and fourteen(14), township seven (7) south, range ten (10) west, and 67.25 chains south of the northeast corner of § fifteen (15). The post set at this point is witnessed by a sycamore tree 36 inches, S. 1

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