Boon's Heirs v. Chiles - 33 U.S. 532 (1834)
U.S. Supreme Court
Boon's Heirs v. Chiles, 33 U.S. 8 Pet. 532 532 (1834)
Boon's Heirs v. Chiles
33 U.S. (8 Pet.) 532
T. Boon, a citizen and resident of Pennsylvania, filed a bill in the Circuit Court of Kentucky against W. Chiles and others praying that the defendant and such others of the defendants as may hold the legal title to certain lands may be decreed to convey them to him and for general relief.
The bill states that Reuben Searcy, being entitled to one moiety of a settlement and preemption right of 1,400 acres of land located in Licking, sold the same to William Hay in September, 1781, and executed a bond for a conveyance. In December following, Hay assigned this bond to George Boon,
who, in April, 1783, assigned it to the plaintiff. Hay, while he held the bond, obtained an assignment of the plat and certificate of survey, which he caused to
be registered, and the patent was issued in his name in 1785. In 1802, the plaintiff made a conditional sale of this land to Hezekiah Boon, but the conditions were not complied with and the contract was considered by both parties as a nullity. Yet a certain William Chiles, and the said Hezekiah Boon and George Boon, fraudulently uniting the plaintiff's name with their own, without his consent or knowledge, filed a bill in chancery praying that the heirs of Hay might be decreed to convey the legal title to the said William Chiles, who claimed the right of Searcy through the plaintiff, under his pretended sale to Hezekiah Boon. A decree was obtained under which a conveyance was made to Chiles by a commissioner appointed by the court. The plaintiff avers his total ignorance of these transactions at the time, and disavows them.
While this suit was depending, the decree of Bourbon court was reversed in the court of appeals of the state, and the cause remanded to that court for further proceedings.
The complainant died, and the suit was revived in the name of his heirs. The complainants amended their bill, showing a reversal of the decree of Bourbon court and making the heirs of Hay defendants and praying a conveyance from
them. Their amended bill is not in the record. They also filed an amended bill making the heirs of George Boon parties and stating that his heirs disclaimed all title to the property. One of them answered and disclaimed title. It is not stated whether process was or was not executed on the other heirs of George Boon.
The defendant, William Chiles, in his answer states that there were other heirs of Hay than those mentioned in the bill and made defendants who are not residents of Kentucky.
The Circuit Court of Kentucky was divided in opinion on two questions which were certified to this Court as follows:
"1st. This Court being then divided and the judges opposed in opinion as to the jurisdiction over the case and unable therefore to render a decree on the merits, it resolved to adjourn that question to the Supreme Court, to-wit, under all the circumstances appearing as above, can this Court entertain cognizance of the case. "
2d. The judges were also opposed in opinion on the point whether the complainants were entitled to a decree in the absence of any proof that the persons made defendants in the amended bill, as heirs of George Boon were in fact his heirs, both of which points occurred and became material in this case.
By the court:
"The question between the plaintiffs and the defendant William Chiles is within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court for the District of Kentucky, and may be decided by that court, though Hay's heirs were not parties to the suit. That they were made parties cannot oust the jurisdiction as between those who are properly before the court."
It is not intended to say that where there are several heirs, some out of the jurisdiction of the court, a decree may not be made for a conveyance of their own shares from those on whom process has been served, but it is not thought necessary to decide that question in this case as it is stated.
The principles settled in the answer to the first question decide the second. George Boons heirs are not necessarily defendants. They can have no interest in the contest, nor is any decree asked against them. If they are made defendants, and the answer admits that they are heirs, as is admitted by the defendant who has answered, no further proof can be required. If they do not answer, and the process is executed, so that the bill is taken for confessed,
no further proof is necessary. If the process be not executed they are not before the court.
The case was submitted to the court upon printed arguments, prepared by the counsel for the complainants and the defendants in the circuit court.