United States v. Bennitz - 64 U.S. 255 (1859)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Bennitz, 64 U.S. 23 How. 255 255 (1859)
United States v. Bennitz
64 U.S. (23 How.) 255
The general title of Sutter to land in California again decided to convey no valid title.
This was a claim for five leagues of land on the Sacramento River, which was presented to the board of commissioners with the following evidence and result:
"In this case, the petitioner has placed on file an application made by him to Governor Micheltorena on the 18th day of June, 1844, and states in his petition that the same was referred to John Sutter for his opinion, and that on the 16th day of July, 1844, the said Sutter reported in favor of the issue of a grant, and the signatures of the said Micheltorena and the said Sutter being satisfactorily established by proof."
"Here the proceeding on the part of the petitioner ends."
"The board are of opinion that no sufficient proofs have been offered to entitle the said petitioner to a confirmation, and that the same should be rejected. Rejected."
Additional evidence was produced to the district court, viz.:
June 18, 1844. Petition of Bennitz for a tract of land called Breisgan, five leagues on the Sacramento River.
Same day. Referred to Jimeno, and by him to Sutter for report.
July 16, 1844. Report by Sutter that the land is unoccupied.
July 26, 1844. Jimeno's recommendation that it should wait until the Governor can visit the Sacramento, to which the Governor says: "Let him occupy it provisionally until I go up to conclude it."
These documents were proved by J. J. Warner, who swore that he believed the signatures of Micheltorena, Jimeno, and Sutter, to be genuine.
December 22, 1844. Micheltorena's general grant to J. A. Sutter.
John A. Sutter, being called as a witness, says that Bennitz was one of the persons to whom the general grant applies.
Ernest Rufus says that Bennitz served in 1844 under Micheltorena, as a member of the Sacramento riflemen &c.
Adolph Brenheim another German says that one Julien, a Frenchman, had possession of the land for a while as tenant of Bennitz.
The district court confirmed the claim, and the United States appealed to this Court.