Marshall v. Currie - 8 U.S. 172 (1807)
U.S. Supreme Court
Marshall v. Currie, 8 U.S. 4 Cranch 172 172 (1807)
Marshall v. Currie
8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 172
Loose and vague expressions in an entry of land in Kentucky may be rendered sufficiently certain by the reference to natural objects mentioned in the entry and by comparing the courses and distances of the lines with those natural objects.
Error to the District Court of Kentucky in a suit in chancery in which the plaintiffs in error were the original complainants. The bill complained that the defendant had obtained an elder patent for land covered by the complainants' elder entry, and prayed that the defendant might be compelled to convey to them the legal title.
The only question was whether the entry, under which the complainants claim described the land with sufficient certainty. It was in these words:
"Number two hundred and forty one, Thomas Marshall enters two thousand acres of land on part of a military warrant, number one thousand three hundred and forty-nine, beginning on the bank of Green River, two hundred poles above a beech tree marked D.L. standing on the bank of the river, a few poles below the mouth of a branch, and a small distance above the place called Glover's, upon the opposite side of the river, thence running south seventy-five degrees east one thousand poles, thence north, twenty-five degrees west, and from the beginning up the meanders of the river, and binding thereon so far that a line parallel to the first shall include the quantity. Entered August the sixth, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-four."
The material facts found by the jury, according to the practice of Kentucky, were that the complainants' entry was made on 6 August, 1784, and the defendant's on the day following. That the defendant's patent bears date on 14 June, 1787, and the complainants' patent on 3 June, 1796, and that both patents include part of the same land. That the Green River and the place called Glover's were notorious by those names before and at the time of the complainants' entry. That the watercourse delineated on the plat by the name of Big Branch is a branch running
into Green River, 596 poles above the place called Glover's and on the opposite side of the river, and existed at the time of the entry. That the beech tree represented in the plat stands on the bank of Green River 18 poles below the mouth of the Big Branch,
"and is a very conspicuous tree, and that the letters D.L. were marked at or near said tree upon a beech about November or December, one thousand seven hundred and eighty three;"
that the beginning corner of the complainants' survey is on the bank of Green River 200 poles next above the said beech tree marked on the plat. That two other watercourses empty into the Green River, one called Clover Lick Creek, below the Big Branch and nearer to Glover's; the other called Embro's Spring Branch, above the Big Branch, both of which are laid down on the connected plat. The jury also found that there is a small branch or drain about 250 yards long, running all the year, between Clover Lick Creek and the lower line of the plaintiff's survey, besides those represented on the plat. That beech abounds all along the bank of Green River opposite to Glover's station and for a considerable distance below and above, except immediately above and below the mouth of the small branch or drain -- and that there was no proof that there was any beech tree marked D.L. standing on 6 August, 1784 (the date of the complainants' entry) upon the bank of Green River a few poles below the mouth of a branch, as described in the complainants' entry.