United States v. Levi
33 U.S. 479 (1834)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Levi, 33 U.S. 8 Pet. 479 479 (1834)

United States v. Levi

33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 479

APPEAL FROM THE SUPERIOR

COURT OF EAST FLORIDA

Syllabus

The decree of the Superior Court of East Florida confirming grants of land claimed by the appellee affirmed is part.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

Moses E. Levi presented his petition to the Superior Court for the District of East Florida praying that his claim to 65.000 of land might be declared valid and confirmed to him, according to several different grants and surveys under which he derived title. He is not himself a grantee of any one of the tracts, but is a purchaser from various persons.

The first claim stated in his petition is to 20,000 acres of land, derived from Philip R. Younge.

On 22 February, 1817, Governor Coppinger granted in full title to Philip R. Younge for services

"25,000 acres of land, south of the place known by the name of Spring Garden, in this form: 12,000 acres of them adjoining the lake or pond called Second, and known by the name of Valdes, and the remaining 13,000 acres on the pond further above the preceding, known by the name of Long Pond, the whole west of the River St. John's."

This survey was made on 2 August, 1819, under an order granted by the governor of 25 May of the same year.

The certificate and plat of the surveyor show that the 12,000-acre tract lies on the lake called Second, but omits to state that it was also known by the name of Valdes.

The 13,000-acre tract is stated to be on the long lake, called in the grant "Long Pond."

The fair presumption under all circumstances, no objection

Page 33 U. S. 480

to identity having been made in the Superior Court for the District, is that the places are the same.

The surveyor has returned another plat describing 8.000 acres, part of the 13,00-acre tract, which, with the 12,000-acre tract, were sold to the petitioner by William Travers, who purchased the same from the grantee.

The second claim stated in the petition is to 10,400 acres of land, part of a larger tract of 15,000 acres, for which Antonio Huertas obtained a concession from the Governor of East Florida on 15 September, 1817. This land was divided into four tracts, one of which, amounting to 10,400, was sold and conveyed by Huertas to the petitioner.

The concession grants the land as asked in the petition. The prayer of the petition is for a grant of 15,000 acres of land on a stream which runs from the west and unites itself with the River St. John at about twelve miles south of Lake George, the survey being to commence at four or five miles west of the River St. John, and the said stream dividing the said tract in two parts. The full title was issued on 10 April, 1821, and the survey was made on the 5th day of the same month. It conforms to the concession, except that it does not state the distance from the St. John, at which the survey commenced. This tract was confirmed to Antonio Huertas as well as to Moses E. Levi, but the conveyance to Levi appears in the proceedings, and is admitted by the counsel for Huertas and for Levi.

The third claim stated in the petition is to two other tracts of land, comprising together 7,400, part of a tract of ten thousand acres, originally conceded in absolute property to Pedro Miranda on 10 September, 1817, by the Governor of East Florida. These 7,400 acres of land have come, by regular conveyances, from Miranda to the petitioner.

The concession grants the land described in the petition. It lies on a stream running from the west and entering the River St. John, and called in English the Big Spring, about 25 miles south of St. George's lake, one of the fronts

Page 33 U. S. 481

of the said tract to be on St. John's River, and to be divided in two parts by the stream aforesaid.

The survey was made on 5 April, 1821, and conforms in all respects to the concession.

The fourth claim stated in the petition is to two other tracts of land, comprising together 8,000 acres, being part of a larger parcel, containing 10,000 acres, granted in absolute property to Fernando de la Maza Arredondo, on 20 March, 1817, the title to which 8,000 acres the petitioner derives from the grantee.

The land contained in the concession is described in the petition as lying,

"five thousand of them in a hammock to be found five or six miles east of Spring Garden, and the remaining five thousand west of the River St. John, contiguous to a creek called Black Creek, near Fleming's Island, and the pond called Doctor's Lake."

Four thousand acres in each of these tracts have been conveyed to the petitioner, and the surveys conform to the concession.

The fifth claim of the petitioner is to 20,000 acres, part of a tract of 22,000 acres, granted to George J. F. Clarke. The complete title was made by the governor on 17 December, 1817. The land is described in the grant as lying

"in the hammocks, known under the names of Cuscowillo and Chachala, situate west of the place of the River St. John's, where there was a store of the house of Panton, Leslie & Co., and about thirty miles from it."

The survey was executed on 2 August, 1819, in pursuance of an order from the governor, dated 20 April of the same year. It conforms to the grant.

The judge of the Superior Court for the District of East Florida decreed in favor of the validity of all these claims, and confirmed them to the petitioner, to the extent of the several concessions, grants, and surveys under which they were respectively held.

The validity of the several grants depends on the principles which were discussed and decided in the case of the United States v. Clarke, so that the only question remaining undecided respects the conformity of the surveys with the valid title. This conformity exists in every case, unless it be in the tract of 10,400 acres, derived from Antonio Huertas.

Page 33 U. S. 482

In that concession, the land is required to lie on a stream, which is sufficiently designated, the survey to commence four or five miles from the St. John's. The land lies on the stream which is required, but its distance from the St. John's is not mentioned. Two decrees of confirmation are entered for this tract. One a separate decree on the 23d, and the other a general decree on the whole claim, on 26 May, 1832.

This Court is of opinion that there is no error in so much of the decrees of the Superior Court of the district of East Florida as declares the claim of Moses E. Levi to be valid, and in so much of the said decree as confirms to the petitioner the lands conveyed to him contained in the grant to Philip R. Younge on 22 February, 1817, in the grant to Pedro Miranda on 10 September, 1817, in the grant to Fernando de la Maza Arredondo on 20 March, 1817, and in the grant to George J. F. Clarke on 17 December, 1817, as described in the said decree, and this Court doth affirm the same so far as respects the land claimed by the petitioner in these several grants and concessions.

But this Court is of opinion that there is error in so much of the decree pronounced on 23 May, 1832, and in so much of the decree pronounced on the 26th of the same month, as confirms the title of the said Moses E. Levi to the land contained in the concession made to Antonio Huertas, according to the boundaries described in the said decrees, and doth so far reverse the same, and doth further adjudge and decree that the said cause be remanded to the Superior Court for the District of East Florida with directions to conform in all things to this decree, and if it shall appear to that court that the tract of 10,400 acres has not been surveyed according to the concession made to Antonio Huertas on 15 September, 1817, that the same be resurveyed, on the land contained in the said concession, and be decreed and confirmed to the petitioner if the same be now vacant.

This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the Superior Court for the Eastern District of Florida, and was argued by counsel, on consideration whereof this Court is of opinion that there is no error in so much of the

Page 33 U. S. 483

decrees of the Superior Court of the District of East Florida, as declares the claim of Moses E. Levi to be valid, and in so much of the said decree as confirms to the petitioner the lands conveyed to him contained in the grant to Philip R. Younge on 22 February, 1817; in the grant to Pedro Miranda on 10 September, 1817; in the grant to Fernando de la Maza Arredondo on 20 March, 1817; and in the grant to George J. F. Clarke on 17 December, 1817, as described in said decree, and this Court doth affirm the same so far as it respects the land claimed by the petitioner in these several grants and concessions. But this Court is of opinion that there is error in so much of the decree pronounced on 23 May, 1832, and in so much of the decree pronounced on the 26th of the same month, as confirms the title of the said Moses E. Levi to the land contained in the concession made to Antonio Huertas according to the boundaries described in the said decrees, and doth so far reverse the same, and doth further adjudge and decree that this cause be remanded to the Superior Court for the District of East Florida with directions to conform in all things to this decree, and if it shall appear to that court that the tract of 10,400 acres has not been surveyed according to the concession made to Antonio Huertas on 15 September, 1817, that the same be resurveyed on the land contained in the said concession, and be decreed and confirmed to the petitioner if the same be now vacant.

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