Lea v. Polk County Copper Company - 62 U.S. 493 (1858)
U.S. Supreme Court
Lea v. Polk County Copper Company, 62 U.S. 21 How. 493 493 (1858)
Lea v. Polk County Copper Company
62 U.S. (21 How.) 493
The certificate of probate of a deed in Tennessee did not say that the witness swore that the grantor acknowledged it on the day of its date. But as the certificate
said that the grantor acknowledged it for the purposes therein contained, the probate is covered by an act passed in 1846.
Where a grant conveyed the legal title in 1842, and innocent purchasers paid for the property and took legal conveyances for it with an honest belief that they were dealing for and acquiring a legal title from the true owner, a claimant of the equity of the patent cannot set it up to overthrow the purchase.
There was nothing in the case to cause suspicion in the minds of these purchasers. Three letters were added in the patent to the original name of the patentee. But the register did this in the course of his official duty, and, as this Court believes, honestly; if the purchasers had gone into the inquiry, the presumption would have been that the register did his duty.
These innocent purchasers might properly buy up an outstanding title.
Where a person was in possession, this was sufficient notice to a claimant of an adverse title, and whether the deed under which this person claimed was registered or not was of no importance to the claimant.
The act of limitations of the State of Tennessee protects persons in possession of land under the following circumstances
1. They must have had seven years' possession of land granted by the state.
2. They must have held or claimed the land by virtue of a deed of conveyance or other assurance purporting to convey an estate in fee simple.
3. No claim by suit in law or equity, effectually prosecuted, should have been set up or made to said lands within that time.
Under the second head, an unregistered deed is sufficient to constitute the bar. The deed, when recorded, related back to its date.
The possession of several persons in succession claiming under the same title was the same possession, and the evidence shows that the persons claiming under the statute were in possession for the required period of time.
Courts of justice lend a very unwilling ear to statements of what dead men have said.
The allegation that the possession was fraudulent, under a fraudulent grant and fraudulent deed, is not sustained by the evidence. Whether the deed which purported to convey an estate in fee simple was void or not is immaterial, as the act of limitation intended to protect possession held under such deeds. The adverse possession was notice to everybody of the existence of the claim.
This was a bill filed by Lea for the purposes stated in the opinion of the Court, where the facts of the case are also given.
The points made by the counsel are noticed and commented on in the opinion of the court.