Wadkins v. Producers Oil Co. - 227 U.S. 368 (1913)
U.S. Supreme Court
Wadkins v. Producers Oil Co., 227 U.S. 368 (1913)
Wadkins v. Producers Oil Company
Argued January 31, 1913
Decided February 24, 1913
227 U.S. 368
Where defendant's claim to land formerly part of the public domain is based on his grantor's rights under the statutes governing the disposition thereof, and sustained by the construction given to such statutes by the state court, the decision against the plaintiff involves the denial of a federal right as asserted by him.
Under §§ 2291, 2292, Rev.Stat., no rights accrue to the wife of an entryman who dies before the entry is perfected, and nothing passes under the inheritance laws of the state in which the land is situated.
Under § 3 of the Act of May 14, 1880, providing that settlers might file homestead entries and that their rights should relate back to date of settlement, the inchoate right is initiated by the settlement, and the perfected right, when evidenced by patent, finally obtained relates back to that date, but no vested right is obtained until full compliance with the provisions of the act.
Where a statute of the United States gives definite rights on the happening of certain contingencies, no rights can vest until such contingencies happen, and unless the wife survives the entryman and becomes his widow, she acquires no rights to the land, whether the entry was made before or after her marriage to the entryman.
Prior to patent, the rights of the entryman are essentially inchoate and exclusively within the operation of the laws of the United States, and where those laws designate the beneficiaries of a compliance therewith, state laws are excluded. McCune v. Essig, 199 U. S. 382.
An entryman, prior to marriage, settled on the land but made his entry after marriage; prior to perfection and patent, his wife died leaving children; after perfecting and obtaining a patent, he sold. Held that he perfected the entry in his own right and under §§ 2291, 2293, his wife had acquired no interest therein which descended to her children under the law of the state.
129 La. 484 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the construction of the Homestead Entry Law of the United States and the rights of an entryman and of his wife, are stated in the opinion.