United States v. Yorba - 68 U.S. 412 (1863)


U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Yorba, 68 U.S. 1 Wall. 412 412 (1863)

United States v. Yorba

68 U.S. (1 Wall.) 412

Syllabus

1. Where the usual preliminary proceedings to the issue of a Mexican grant in colonization are preserved in the archives of the former government, the proof of the signatures of the grantor and attesting secretary will be deemed by the Supreme Court sufficient to establish the genuineness and due execution of the grant unless objection is taken to its sufficiency before one of the inferior tribunals. United States v. Auguisola, ante, p. <|68 U.S. 352|>352, approved.

2. The fact that Mexico declared, through her commissioners who negotiated the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, that no grants of land were issued by the Mexican governors of California after the 13th of May, 1846, does not affect the right of parties who, subsequent to that date, obtained grants from the governors whilst their authority and jurisdiction continued. The authority and jurisdiction of Mexican officers in California are regarded as terminating on the 7th of July, 1846. The political department of the government has designated that day as the period when the conquest of California was completed and the Mexican officers were displaced, and in this respect the judiciary follows the action of the political department.

3. The absence from a Mexican grant in colonization of conditions requiring cultivation and inhabitancy and the construction of a house within a year does not affect the validity of the grant.

The respondent claimed a tract of land called La Sierra, situated in the present County of Los Angeles, State of California, and in October, 1852, presented a petition to the board of commissioners created by the Act of March 3, 1851, to ascertain and settle private land claims in California, asking for the confirmation of their title. In November, 1854, the board rejected his claim, but on appeal to the district court the claim was, in December, 1856, adjudged valid and confirmed to the extent of four square leagues. From this decree the appeal was taken.

In support of his claim, the respondent produced from the archives of the former government in the custody of the Surveyor General of California his petition to the governor for the land, the reference by him to the local authorities for information, and their reports on the subject; also various proceedings had with reference to an adverse interest in the land asserted by the widow of his deceased brother and a

Page 68 U. S. 413

draft or copy of the grant issued. He also produced the grant delivered to him, which was issued by Governor Pio Pico on the 15th of June, 1846. It is signed by the governor and tested by his secretary of state, but neither the governor nor secretary was called to prove the execution of the grant. The genuineness of their signatures was proved by a third party, no objection being taken to its sufficiency at the time by the law agent of the United States, who was present at the examination of the witness.

The grant was apparently much in the form common to these grants, except that it had not the usual requirements or conditions requiring cultivation, inhabitancy and the construction of a house within a year. [Footnote 1]

The respondent also proved that he had been for several years previous to receiving the grant in the occupation and use of the land in connection with his deceased brother.

Page 68 U. S. 421



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