Goesele v. Bimeler - 55 U.S. 589 (1852)
U.S. Supreme Court
Goesele v. Bimeler, 55 U.S. 14 How. 589 589 (1852)
Goesele v. Bimeler
55 U.S. (14 How.) 589
A society called Separatists emigrated from Germany to the United States. They were very poor, and one of them, in 1817, purchased land in Ohio, for which he gave his bond, and took the title to himself. Afterwards, they adopted two Constitutions, one in 1819 and one in 1824, which they signed, and in 1832 obtained an act of incorporation. The articles of association, or constitutions of 1819 and 1824, contained a renunciation of individual property.
The heirs of one of the members who signed these conditions and died in 1827, cannot maintain a bill of partition.
From 1817 to 1819, the contract between the members and the person who purchased the property vested in parol and was destitute of a consideration. No legal rights were vested in the members.
The ancestor of these heirs renounced all right of individual property, when he signed the articles, and did so upon the consideration that the society would support him in sickness and in health, and this was deemed by him an adequate compensation for his labor and property, contributed to the common stock.
The principles of the association were that land and other property were to be acquired by the members, but they were not to be vested with the fee of the land. Hence at the death of one of them, no right of property descended to his heirs. There is no legal objection to such a partnership, nor can it be considered a forfeiture of individual rights for the community to succeed to his share, because it was a matter of voluntary contract.
Nor do the articles of association constitute a perpetuity. The society exists at the will of its members, a majority of whom may at any time order a sale of the property, and break up the association.
The evidence shows that they are a moral, religious, and industrious people.
The bill was filed by John G. Goesele and six other persons, as heirs at law of Johannes Goesele, deceased, against Bimeler and twenty-four other persons, members of the Society of Separatists.
The facts of the case are stated in the opinion of the court.
The circuit court dismissed the bill, and the complainants appealed to this Court.