Hyde v. Bishop Iron Co.
177 U.S. 281 (1900)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Hyde v. Bishop Iron Co., 177 U.S. 281 (1900)

Hyde v. Bishop Iron Company

No. 126

Argued January 29-30, 1900

Decided April 9, 1900

177 U.S. 281

Syllabus

On the evidence set forth in the statement of facts and in the opinion of the court, it is held that there was on the part of the entryman a distinct violation of section 2262 of the Revised Statutes with regard to contracts by which the tract for which he applies is not to inure to another's benefit, and the adverse judgment of the court below is sustained.

On April 3, 1895, the Bishop Iron Company, one of the defendants in error, filed in the District Court of the Eleventh Judicial District of Minnesota, in and for the County of St. Louis, its complaint in ejectment, alleging that it was the absolute owner in fee simple and entitled to the immediate possession of the undivided 13/25 of the following described land, situate in the County of St. Louis, to-wit: The N.E. 1/4 of the S.W.

Page 177 U. S. 282

1/4 of section 30, township 63 north, range 11 west of the fourth principal meridian, and that it was the lessee of the remaining undivided 12/25 of said land under a lease in writing from and executed by the owners in fee simple of said remaining undivided 12/25, by the terms of which lease plaintiff was entitled to the immediate, sole, and exclusive possession of said undivided 12/25; that the defendant, the present plaintiff in error, on January 1, 1895, wrongfully and unlawfully entered into and took possession of said tract, and had ever since kept possession thereof. The prayer of the complainant was for possession for costs and disbursements. The defendant answered and filed a cross-petition, and on his application certain parties were made defendants to that cross-petition. He subsequently filed an amended answer and cross-petition.

In the latter these facts are alleged: that ever since August 20, 1884, the petitioner has been in the actual, open, and exclusive possession of the tract in controversy; that at the time of his taking possession, it was unoccupied and unsurveyed land of the United States; that, prior to July 20, 1885, the lands in that district were duly surveyed and an approved plat thereof filed in the land office at Duluth, Minn., that being the land office of the district in which those lands are situated; that on July 20, 1885, he duly offered to the local land office and made application to file his declaratory statement for said tract and lots 5 and 6 and the S.E. 1/4 of the N.W. 1/4 of said section 30, and tendered the fees required by law to be paid on said application and filing; that he was informed by the local land officers that they would reject such application unless limited to the tract in controversy; that he then and there notified said local land officers that his house and the land he cultivated was upon and within said tract, and that he desired and intended to claim the same as a preemption, whether or not he was successful in a contest which he had in reference to the other tracts in the application; that he was told by them that, if he was a settler in good faith his rights would be protected; that, on the same day, but without his knowledge, the register made this endorsement upon the application:

"Land Office, Duluth, Minn., July 20th, 1885. The within

Page 177 U. S. 283

application to file D.S. on the within described land is refused as to the S.E. 1/4 of the N.W. 1/4 and lots 5 and 6 of Sec. 30, T. 63, R. 11 W. for the reason that the date of settlement alleged herein does not antedate the unadjusted location of Sioux half-breed scrip No.19 E, in the name of Orille Moreau, filed for location June 16, 1883. Said unadjusted scrip location having withdrawn said land from settlement under the preemption law subsequent to said date of filing of said scrip, to-wit, June 16, 1883, you are allowed thirty days for appeal, and are advised that, if you fail to do so within that time this decision will be final."

That said officers retained said application, and also endorsed it as follows: "Filed Aug. 20, 1885;" that ignorant of this last endorsement, and within the proper time, after July 20, 1885, he formally appealed from the action of the local land office to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, which appeal was duly transmitted to that office on August 20, 1885; that thereafter, and on October 15, 1885, one Joseph H. Sharp, claiming to be the attorney in fact of James H. Warren, located the tract in controversy in the name of the said Warren, filing in support of said location certain Chippewa Indian scrip; that petitioner was ignorant of this location and filing until April 10, 1886, and then he made application in the local land office to contest said selection and location, and this application was also transmitted by the local land officers to the General Land Office at Washington.

The cross-petition further alleged that on June 16, 1883, and before the surveys had been made of these lands, Orille Moreau, by her attorney-in-fact, located Sioux half-breed scrip Nos.19 D and 19 E on lands therein described by metes and bounds, which locations, after the surveys, were adjusted by the local land officers in the name of the locator, as follows: Scrip No.19 D upon lots 3, 5, and 6 and the S.E. 1/4 of the N.W. 1/4 of said section 30, and No.19 E upon lots 1 and 2 and the S.W. 1/4 of the N.E. 1/4 and the N.W. October 9, 1884, petitioner instituted a contest in the local land office against the said location of scrip No.19 D, and on October 19, 1884, Angus McDonald a like contest against the

Page 177 U. S. 284

location of said scrip No.19 E; that, on the hearing of this latter contest the following testimony was received:

"Testimony of S. F. White"

"S. F. White, being duly sworn upon oath, deposes and says: I am one of the attorneys for the contestant; I have made careful search through my safe and among all my papers for the contract of security given me by the contestants in these cases to secure me for advances and legal services, and I am unable to find it. I supposed until about two or three days before the day set for hearing that it was in the files of the case in my office, but I have looked through that and could not find it, and have made a careful search through my safe and among all my papers where I thought it could be, and have continued that search at various times up to this morning, when I made a last final search through my safe and have been unable to find it and have no idea where it is."

"Testimony of Mr. Hyde"

"Q. Did you have any contract with Mr. White in writing or otherwise by which he was to receive any compensation or interest in the land?"

"A. Yes, there was a contract."

"Q. Where is it?"

"A. I don't know."

"Q. When and where did you see it last?"

"A. I have not seen it since it was drawn by Mr. White."

"Q. What did it contain?"

"A. It contained when I prove up on the land I was to secure him on a one-half interest."

"Q. Who witnessed the contract?"

"A. Powers, McDonald, and myself and Mr. White were together; that is all I recollect. I can't say whether Powers witnessed it or not. The last I knew of the contract, Mr. White had it. Mr. Powers was not included in the contract with McDonald and myself and White."

"Mr. McDonald's Testimony."

"Mr. White has furnished me the supplies to keep me on the

Page 177 U. S. 285

claim. I am making the improvements for myself. I don't know of anyone being interested in the claim except myself. Judge White has no interest in it. There is an understanding that he is to have an interest in it if we succeed in this trial. He is to have a half interest. I know R. D. Mallett; he has no interest in the claim; he is not going to have any."

"The arrangement with Hyde is the same as mine. White is to have half if we succeed in this. James H. Powers is also to have an interest in it if we succeed. I don't know how much he is to get. I agreed to give him an interest if we succeeded in getting the land. Mr. Hyde went after Powers to come and testify in the case. I never had any talk with Mallett about the claim. Mr. White is paying the expenses of the claim with the understanding that he is to have a half of it if we secure it."

Redirect:

"Q. The half interest you speak of Mr. White is to have was to be a deed of or security upon a half of the land for advances and services?"

"A. It was a security."

"Q. This interest you have spoken of as to Mr. Powers and which you say you cannot fix the amount of, what was that? Was it not simply that he was to be paid for his time and services, and there was no telling how much he would have to put in it?"

"A. He was to be paid for his time; that is all I mean by an interest he was to have."

Cross-examination:

"I am to let him have an interest in the land when I get it to pay him for his time and services. The contract I have with Mr. White for this one-half is in writing."

"Q. When you get this land, is it not the understanding between you and Mr. White that you are to deed him an undivided one-half interest in it?"

"A. No, sir; we never mentioned a deed."

"Q. What do you mean then by saying that White was to have a half interest?"

"A. To secure him for advances. "

Page 177 U. S. 286

"Q. Then if it was to secure him for advances made, how can you give him a half interest unless you deed him one-half?"

"A. I could not very well."

"Q. Then your understanding is you are to deed him one-half interest in it?"

"A. No; that is not my understanding."

"Q. Really you do not know anything about it, do you?"

"A. I know my own transaction about it, but I don't know White's."

That no further or other evidence was taken on either of said hearings relative to the said contract with the said White, and that, by agreement, this testimony offered in the McDonald case was to be considered in determining the validity of both locations, to-wit, that of No.19 D as well as that of No.19 E. The cross-petition then stated that such testimony was improperly admitted; that it was irrelevant, incompetent, and immaterial because not bearing upon the question of the validity of these scrip locations; that the local land officers upon the termination of the hearing found the scrip locations valid, and both the petitioner and McDonald appealed therefrom to the Commissioner of the General Land Office; that the Commissioner reversed the decision of the local land officers and held the scrip locations invalid, and from his decision an appeal was taken by the locator to the Secretary of the Interior, who, on February 18, 1889, affirmed the decision of the Commissioner of the General Land Office, but, erroneously and contrary to law, held that said lands were open to entry by the first legal applicant. The cross-petition then proceeded to show that for five succeeding years, proceedings were continued in the land department at Washington and before the local land office at Duluth, in which repeated hearings and contests were had in reference to the validity of these scrip locations, and also of the location made by Warren of Chippewa scrip on the tract in controversy, the outcome of which was a final decision that Warren's application to enter this land with the Chippewa Indian scrip was valid and entitled to priority, and on the strength of that, a patent was issued to him, and from him the plaintiff obtained its title.

Page 177 U. S. 287

Demurrers were interposed to the amended cross-petition, which were sustained. On appeal to the supreme court of the state, this ruling on the demurrers was on July 24, 1896, affirmed. 66 Minn. 24. Thereafter, in the district court, a reply was filed to the amended answer. The case came on for hearing on pleadings and proofs at the November term, 1896. Findings of fact and conclusions of law were made by the trial court, and judgment entered for the plaintiff, which judgment was thereafter, on April 22, 1898, affirmed by the supreme court, 72 Minn. 16, to reverse which judgment this writ of error was sued out.

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