Glasgow v. Hortiz
66 U.S. 595 (1861)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Glasgow v. Hortiz, 66 U.S. 1 Black 595 595 (1861)

Glasgow v. Hortiz

66 U.S. (1 Black) 595

Syllabus

1. The Act of Congress passed June 13, 1812, confirming to the inhabitants of St. Louis and other villages the lots, out-lots, common fields, &c., occupied and cultivated by them before 1803 is a present operative grant of all the interest which the United States had in the land mentioned in the act.

2. As no act of the Surveyor General was necessary to make the grant valid, so nothing that he did could defeat it.

3. A map made by the Surveyor General in 1840, exhibiting the outboundary lines of St. Louis common, is not binding on one who claims under a villager.

4. A title confirmed by the act of 1812 is a good title though the land be not within the outboundaries laid down in the Surveyor General's map.

This action was commenced in the St. Louis Land Court by William Milburn, William Glasgow, Jr., and William C. Taylor, against Jean Baptiste Hortiz. The petition of the plaintiff set forth that they are commissioners appointed under a law of the state, and as such entitled to the possession of the land described as section sixteen, township forty-five north, range seven east, and the defendants have taken and unlawfully hold about ten acres thereof, for which suit is brought. The defendant answered, admitting his possession of a tract containing 4 22/100 arpents, and denied the plaintiff's right of possession.

On the trial, the plaintiffs showed their appointment as commissioners, and their right under the law of Missouri to possession of the sixteenth section. The defendant admitted that the land he was on was part of the sixteenth section, but showed that he held it by a title from Francois Bequette, who had occupied and cultivated it, claiming it to be his own prior to December 20, 1803, and that it is situated in the vicinity of the ancient village of St. Louis, of which Bequette was an inhabitant.

Page 66 U. S. 596

The defendant asserted that those facts, coupled with the act of Congress passed in 1812, confirming to the inhabitants of St. Louis and other villages such out-lots, common field lots, and commons as were inhabited, cultivated, or possessed by them previous to December 20, 1803, gave him a legal title to the land in dispute. To this the plaintiffs replied that a survey of the St. Louis commons, out-lots &c., was made by the Surveyor General in 1840. He exhibited the map of that survey, and showed that the land occupied by the defendant was not within the out-boundaries there laid down.

The court refused to instruct the jury that the survey was binding upon all parties claiming under the confirmation of 1812, but charged that if the land in dispute was one of a series of lots lying together in the vicinity of St. Louis Village and used by the inhabitants as a common field prior to December, 1803 -- if the land sued for was cultivated by Bequette before that time -- if Bequette was an inhabitant of the village -- and if his title was vested in the defendant -- then the verdict ought to be for the defendant.

The verdict and judgment were in favor of the defendant. The judgment was affirmed in the supreme court of the state. The plaintiff took this writ of error.

Page 66 U. S. 599

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