Castro v. Hendricks - 64 U.S. 438 (1859)
U.S. Supreme Court
Castro v. Hendricks, 64 U.S. 23 How. 438 438 (1859)
Castro v. Hendricks
64 U.S. (23 How.) 438
Where there were two separate claimants of land in California, both claiming under one original grant, and the surveyor, in running out their lines, disregarded the limits of the original grant and included within one of the surveys a large portion of government land, the Commissioner of the General Land Office was right in refusing to issue a patent founded on such erroneous survey.
This was a petition to the circuit court for a mandamus to Hendricks commanding him to prepare a patent for some land in California; secondly, to cause said patent, when ready for the requisite signatures of the appropriate officers, to be presented to the recorder of the land office and the President of the United States, or other proper officers of the government, for their respective signatures; thirdly, to deliver the patent so prepared and duly subscribed to the petitioner.
A rule was laid upon the commissioner to show cause why a mandamus should not issue as prayed. On the 10th of June, 1858, he filed his answer and exhibits. Whereupon the court adjudged that the cause shown was sufficient, and dismissed the petition. The petitioner appealed to this Court.
In 1839, there was a grant of land to Antonio Buelna of the extent of four square leagues, a little more or less. In 1849, the widow of Buelna and her then husband sold to Castro one league of land in the location known by the name of San Gregorio, situated on the coast to the north of Santa Cruz, and which land, consisting of four leagues, was the property of Antonio Buelna.
In 1852, another deed was made for more definite boundaries, which contained certain courses and distances. Three leagues of this land were confirmed to the widow of Buelna, then Madame Rodrigues, and surveyed for her, giving her that quantity. About this there was no controversy.
Castro petitioned for his confirmation, and in January, 1856, the district court decreed in his favor, referring to the description substantially the same as that contained in the second deed, above mentioned, adding these words:
"The tract hereby confirmed, containing by estimation one square league, and being the same land described in the conveyance to claimant, filed before said board, and constituting a part of the record in this cause."
After the confirmation, a survey was made on behalf of the petitioner, under the authority of the Surveyor General of California, who signed it on the 19th of November, 1857. Being approved by him, it was returned to the General Land Office.
The commissioner examined the survey in connection with the grant to Buelna, the two deeds, and the decree of confirmation, and came to the conclusion that the lines of the survey ran out of the grant to Buelna into the government land, and gave to Castro two leagues and a half more land than he ought to have, the surplus being taken from the lands of the United States.
On the 3d of February, 1858, the Commissioner signed, with a view to transmission, instructions to the Surveyor General to the effect that he should cause a further and careful examination to be made in the whole matter, and report the result, with his decision as to the true boundaries of the league confirmed to Castro, and the three leagues to Madame Rodrigues.
The petitioner appealed to the Secretary of the Interior, who affirmed the decision of the Commissioner of the Land Office, who refused to issue a patent founded upon what he considered to be an erroneous survey.
In May, 1858, the petitioner applied to the circuit court for a mandamus, as before stated.