Toltec Ranch Co. v. Cook - 191 U.S. 532 (1903)
U.S. Supreme Court
Toltec Ranch Co. v. Cook, 191 U.S. 532 (1903)
Toltec Ranch Company v. Cook
Argued November 3, 1903
Decided December 21, 1903
191 U.S. 532
Adverse possession gives a title to land together with the remedies which attach to the title as effectually as a conveyance from the owner.
Adverse possession under claim of right for the period prescribed by the statute of limitations of the State of Utah after the act granting the land and before a patent has been issued by the United States to the Central Pacific Railroad Company for a part of its land grant within that state, and not within its right of way, will prevail against the patent.
The Toltec Ranch Company, a California corporation, brought this action in 1901 in the District Court of the First Judicial District, Box Elder County, State of Utah, to quiet title to the S.E. 1/4 of the S.E. 1/4 of section 27, township 8, north or range 2 west, Salt Lake meridian, United States survey. Title in fee was alleged. The defendants answered separately,
claiming different portions of the land, and each alleged peaceable, continuous, and adverse possession under claim of title in himself and grantors adversely to the plaintiff for more than thirty years, and that plaintiff's cause was "barred by the statute of limitations as provided by sections 2856 and 2872 inclusive, of the Revised Statutes of Utah." Under these sections, to constitute a bar, there must be an adverse holding for at least seven years.
The title of plaintiff, it was admitted, was derived as follows: patent from the United States dated January 20, 1900, to the Central Pacific Railroad Company; the railroad company by deed dated October 17, 1895, to D. P. Tarpey; the latter and wife to M. F. Tarpey by deed December 8, 1895; M. F. Tarpey to plaintiff, October 17, 1896. The patent to the company was issued in pursuance of the grant to the company made by the act of Congress approved July 1, 1862, as amended by the Act of July 2, 1864, to aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri to the Pacific Ocean. 12 Stat. 489, c. 120; 13 Stat. 356, c. 216.
It was admitted that the land in controversy was within the ten-mile limit of the grant to the company, and that the map of location of the railroad was filed in the office of the Secretary of the Interior on the 20th of October, 1868.
It was also admitted that no claim of any right or title to or in the right of way of the railroad company across the lands in controversy was made by any or either of the defendants.
The defendants introduced evidence to sustain the averments of their answers.
The case was submitted to a jury on special interrogatories, and the jury found that the defendants had been in possession of the land claimed by them, either by themselves or their predecessors and grantors, from sometime in 1868 to the commencement of the action. The jury also returned the following verdict:
"We, the jury empaneled in the above-entitled cause, find the issues joined herein in favor of the said defendants and against the plaintiff, no cause of action.
Judgment was entered upon the verdict. It was affirmed by the supreme court of the state. The court said, after discussing questions with which we are not concerned:"
"The next question for consideration is whether the statute of limitations can prevail as a bar to the action when it appears that the patent of the United States government was not issued to the plaintiff until January 20, 1900."
The question was answered in the affirmative. The chief justice of the state granted this writ of error.