Williams v. Baker
84 U.S. 144

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Williams v. Baker, 84 U.S. 17 Wall. 144 144 (1873)

Williams v. Baker

84 U.S. (17 Wall.) 144

Syllabus

1. The history given of the legislation of the land grants for the improvement of the Des Moines River, and of the grants for railroad purposes, which have been supposed to conflict.

2. This Court, on full consideration, affirms the decision in the cases of Wolcott v. Des Moines Company, 5 Wall. 681, and Reily v. Wells (declared by this Court to have nothing to distinguish it from that case, and therefore not reported), namely

"that the title to those lands never passed to the railroad company by the grant under which it claimed because, by the express terms of the proviso, they were reserved from the grant, and that by the Joint Resolution of Congress of 1861 and the act of 1862 on the same subject, the State of Iowa did receive the title for the use of those to whom she had sold them as part of the original Des Moines River grant."

3. The decision of Wolcott v. Des Moines Company, as an authoritative exposition of the law of this case, is not weakened by the supposed collusion of the parties to that suit, it being shown by the record that all the questions were fully argued by other parties who intervened and that the Court maturely and deliberately considered the question which they were now asked to reconsider. Nor does this Court look with approval upon a labored effort to prove by testimony that its judgment was obtained by collusion when the judgment is cited in another case only to establish principles of law, and not by way of evidence or estoppel.

[Though the two cases here reported were decided in order of time prior to that of Homestead Company v. Valley

Page 84 U. S. 145

Railroad, next in order of place (beginning on page 84 U. S. 153), and are referred to in it, yet the reader who is not already acquainted with the facts of what is known in Iowa as the Des Moines River land litigation may possibly find it as well to read, before reading the cases now immediately given, the later one, beginning, as already said, on page 84 U. S. 153, and in which a diagram will assist his comprehension of a topography common to both cases.]

These were two suits in chancery, brought originally in the state courts of Iowa and transferred to the circuit court of the United States for that district, to quiet title to real estate. In the first case, the complainant was Baker, who held title under the Des Moines Navigation & Railroad Company. The defendant was Williams, and he held under the Cedar Rapids Railroad Company. In the second case, the Cedar Rapids Railroad Company was complainant and the Navigation & Railroad Company, with others, defendants, and in this suit the complainant set up that suits at law had been commenced against numerous persons, its grantees, which were harassing and expensive, and prayed that its title and the title of its said grantees should be quieted. The defendants in that suit denied the title thus set up, and alleged that their own title, that of the Des Moines Navigation & Railroad Company, was the true title. The court below decided in both cases in favor of the parties claiming under the latter title, and in both cases the adverse side appealed to this Court.

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