Schrimpscher v. Stockton - 183 U.S. 290 (1902)
U.S. Supreme Court
Schrimpscher v. Stockton, 183 U.S. 290 (1902)
Schrimpscher v. Stockton
Argued November 22, 1901
Decided January 6, 1902
183 U.S. 290
The deed of an Indian, who has received a patent of land providing that it should never be sold or conveyed by the patentee or his heirs without the consent of the Secretary of the Interior, is void, and the statutes of limitation do not run against the Indian or his heirs so long as the condition of incompetency remains; but where it appeared that, by treaty subsequent to the deed, all restrictions upon the sales of land by incompetent Indians or their heirs were removed, it was held that from this time, the statute of limitations began to run against the grantor and his heirs.
Even if Indians, while maintaining their tribal relations, are not chargeable with laches or failure to assert their claims within the time prescribed by the statutes, they lose their immunity when their relations with their tribe are dissolved and they are declared to be citizens of the United States.
A deed, valid upon its face, made by one having title to the land and containing the usual covenants of warranty, when received by one purchasing the land in good faith, with no actual notice of a defect in the title of the grantor, constitutes color of title, and in Kansas, possession without a paper title seems to be sufficient to enable the possessor to set up the statute of limitations.
The fact that the Secretary of the Interior might thereafter declare the deed to be void does not ipso facto prevent the statute from running.
This was an action of ejectment brought in the Court of Common Pleas of Wyandotte County, Kansas, by John Schrimpscher and about forty others, heirs of one Carey Rodgers, deceased, a Wyandotte Indian, against John S. Stockton and ten others, to recover a tract of land which had been allotted to certain Wyandotte Indians under the treaty of 1855.
Answers were filed by three of the defendants, containing general denials of the allegations of the petition, and pleas both of a three-year and a fifteen-year state statute of limitations.
To these answers plaintiffs filed a reply to the effect that the ancestor of the plaintiffs, from whom they derived title by descent, was an incompetent Indian, and classed as such under the treaty between the United States and the Wyandotte tribe of Indians, concluded January 31, 1855, and, as such incompetent, was prohibited from alienating any of the lands in controversy, except only the power to lease the same for the term of two years; that defendants and those under whom they claim were bound by the same prohibition, and could have acquired nothing further than such leasehold interest in the land; that defendants occupied such lands in subordination to the rights of plaintiffs' ancestor, and that no notice had ever been brought home to plaintiffs of an adverse claim by defendants.
A jury having been waived and the case submitted to the court, judgment was rendered for the defendants. An appeal was taken to the supreme court of the state, which affirmed the judgment of the lower court. 58 Kan. 758. Whereupon plaintiffs sued out a writ of error from this Court.