United States v. Gorham
165 U.S. 316 (1897)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Gorham, 165 U.S. 316 (1897)

United States v. Gorham

No. 187

Argued January 28, 1897

Decided February 15, 1897

165 U.S. 316

Syllabus

Under the Indian Depredation Act of March 3, 1891, c. 538, 26 Stat. 851, judgment may be rendered against the United States alone when the tribe of Indians to which the depredators belong cannot be identified and such inability is stated.

The appellee herein filed his petition against the United States and the Comanche and Kiowa Indians in the Court of Claims on the 4th day of September, 1891, in which he claimed to recover damages for the destruction of his property on the 20th day of January, 1868, by the Comanche and Kiowa Indians, in amity with the United States at Indian Creek, in Cooke County, Texas. The property destroyed consisted of horses, mares, and colts of the alleged value of $1,390.

The government filed an answer to such petition in which it denied each and every allegation therein contained. The case was duly tried before the court, which found as facts that the claimant was at the time of the loss of his property, and ever since has been, a citizen of the United States, and that in the year 1868, he was the owner of the property described in his petition, and that it was of the total value of $1,390; that it was destroyed or taken from him by Indians belonging to the Indian tribes at the time in amity with the United States, and the depredation was without just cause or provocation on the part of claimant, and that it did not appear at the time of the depredation that any Indian troubles existed; that no part of the property included in the computation had been returned or paid for. Upon these findings, the court decided as conclusions of law that the plaintiff was entitled to recover from the United States the value of the property, $1,390, and that his petition as against the Comanches and Kiowas should be dismissed. Judgment was accordingly entered against the United States for the sum named and for

Page 165 U. S. 317

a dismissal against the Indians. A motion by the United States for a new trial was overruled, and thereafter an appeal was allowed to this Court. 29 Ct.Cl. 97.

The appellant assigns for errors of fact:

(1) That the court erred in finding that claimant's property was taken or destroyed by Indians belonging to Indian tribes at the time in amity with the United States.

(2) In finding that the depredation was committed without just cause or provocation on the part of the claimant or his agent.

(3) In finding that it does not appear that any Indian troubles existed at the time of the depredation.

Errors of law are assigned:

(1) That the court erred in its conclusion of law that the claimant should recover from the United States the sum of $1,390; and

(2) It erred in entering judgment against the United States.

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