Speed v. McCarthy
181 U.S. 269 (1901)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Speed v. McCarthy, 181 U.S. 269 (1901)

Speed v. McCarthy

No. 230

Argued April 10-11, 1901

Decided April 29, 1901

181 U.S. 269

Syllabus

As against the purchaser of interests in mining claims after the location certificates were recorded, the original locators were held by the state court estopped to deny the validity of the locations. The question of estoppel is not a federal question.

The state court further held that, where the annual assessment work had not been done on certain mining claims, a co-tenant could not, on the general principles applicable to co-tenancy, obtain title against his co-tenants by relocating the claims.

This was also not a federal question in itself, and the contention that the state court necessarily decided the original mining claims to be in existence at the time of the relocation, in contravention of provisions of the Revised Statutes properly interpreted, could not be availed of under § 709, as no right or title given or secured by the act of Congress in this regard was specially set up or claimed.

Patrick B. McCarthy commenced this action in the Circuit Court of Pennington County, South Dakota, against William

Page 181 U. S. 270

B. Franklin and others, to determine their adverse claims in and to certain mining property. Before the trial, William B. Franklin died, and his heirs and his administrator, Edward W. Speed, were substituted.

The circuit court filed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and entered judgment for defendants on the facts so found.

The facts found by the trial court are thus stated in the opinion of the supreme court:

"On September 16, 1882, Jacob F. Reed and William Franklin located a portion of the ground in controversy as the Reed placer mining claim. From the date of location until 1892, Reed and Franklin were in actual, notorious, and peaceable possession of the claim, were acknowledged and reputed to be its owners, and during each year performed the required development work. They applied for patent November 23, 1892. Final entry was made March 13, 1893. There was no application for a lode on the placer site aside from the placer claim. The boundaries of the claim as patented coincide with its boundaries as staked upon the ground at time of location. January 25, 1888, Reed, Franklin, Thomas C. Blair, and Frank Eaton marked the boundaries of Tin Bar No. 1 claim upon the ground with stakes, as required by law, posted a discovery or location notice thereon, and within sixty days thereafter recorded a location certificate, but did no other act of location at that time. The location or discovery notice of this claim was posted inside the boundaries of the Reed placer claim, and the point claimed as discovery on the Tin Bar No. 1 is the same point at which the notice was posted. No labor has been performed or improvement made upon the claim, except about four days' work in 1889 and about four days' work in 1891; such work not exceeding $14 in each of those years. There was no agreement on the part of defendants Blair or Franklin with plaintiff to perform labor or make improvements on Tin Bar No. 1 in 1893 or 1894, and no contractual relation existed between them in regard to such claim when the Holy Terror lode claim was located. January 25, 1888, Blair and Eaton did the same acts of location with respect to Tin Bar No. 2 that were done in respect to Tin Bar No. 1. No labor has been performed or improvement

Page 181 U. S. 271

made upon Tin Bar No. 2, except about four days' work in 1891, of value not exceeding $14. There was no agreement on the part of defendants Franklin or Blair with plaintiff to perform labor or make improvements upon Tin Bar No. 2 in 1892, 1893, or 1894, and there was no contractual relation existing between them in regard to such claim during those years. Defendant Franklin located the lode claims Holy Terror and Keystone No. 4, on June 28, 1894, and September 20, 1894, respectively, and the law has been complied with, so far as it relates to those claims, since the date of each. Defendants are the owners of the Holy Terror and Keystone No. 4, save for the rights of the plaintiff in this action. No adverse was filed by plaintiff or other owners of either Tin Bar No. 1 or 2 to the application for patent to the Reed placer claim. At and prior to the time of the application for patent to the placer claim, there was no known lode or vein thereon within the boundaries of either Tin Bar claim of such character as to render the ground more valuable because of its presence, or to justify the expenditure of money for either exploitation or development. There was no application for patent to any lode or vein included in the placer claim in the application for patent to the placer claim. The Holy Terror embraces 1.62 acres of the ground covered by Tin Bar No. 1, and Keystone No. 4 embraces 2.71 acres of the ground covered by Tin Bar No. 2. In 1888, Eaton conveyed an undivided one-fourth interest in Tin Bar No. 1 and Tin Bar No. 2 to one George Williams, who, in the same year, conveyed the same interest to plaintiff and one Michael McGuire. On April 22, 1890, Eaton conveyed an undivided one-fourth interest in Tin Bar No. 2 to defendant Franklin, and Blair conveyed a like interest therein to Jacob F. Reed. When this action was commenced, Franklin (since deceased) and defendants Blair, Fayel, and Amsbury each owned an undivided one-fourth interest in the Holy Terror claim and an undivided seven-thirty-sixths interest in Keystone No. 4. Blair acquired his interest in the Holy Terror claim with full knowledge of whatever rights the plaintiff had, if any. During 1891, Blair and Franklin discovered a well defined ledge of mineral-bearing rock in place, carrying gold, upon Tin Bar No. 2, the point of discovery

Page 181 U. S. 272

being outside the limits of Reed placer claim. The location notice on Tin Bar No. 1 was posted upon a well defined ledge of rock carrying tin, but plaintiff and defendants had no knowledge of the existence of tin or other valuable deposit therein until during the trial of this action in the court below."

Plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court of South Dakota from the judgment and from an order denying a new trial, and the judgment was reversed and a new trial ordered. 11 S.D. 362. Subsequently a rehearing was had, and judgment was directed to be entered below for plaintiff on the findings of fact for one-eighth interest in and to so much of the ground covered by the Holy Terror claim and the Keystone No. 4 claim as was embraced by Tin Bar No. 1 and Tin Bar No. 2. 12 S.D. 7. This was accordingly done by the circuit court, and this writ of error was thereupon allowed.

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