Bowen v. Chase - 98 U.S. 254 (1878)
U.S. Supreme Court
Bowen v. Chase, 98 U.S. 254 (1878)
Bowen v. Chase
98 U.S. 254
1. The court adheres to its ruling in Bowen v. Chase, 94 U. S. 812, touching the title to certain lands whereof Stephen Jumel was sometime the owner, which were conveyed upon certain trusts to the separate use of Eliza Brown Jumel, his wife, with a general power of appointment during her lifetime, and of the several appointments made thereunder to Mary Jumel Bownes by said Eliza, who survived her husband, which ruling declares that the title to the property situate in New York City passed on her death to said Mary in fee, except a tract of sixty-five acres on Harlem Heights, in regard to which no opinion was expressed.
2. Bowen, claiming to be the heir-at-law of said Eliza, brought ejectment for all the lands against the heirs-at-law of said Mary who were in possession of them, but offered no evidence that said Stephen had transferred the title of said tract, or that said Eliza had ever acquired any interest therein except her estate in dower. The conveyances made by said Eliza to defeat her appointments in favor of said Mary and restore the lands to their original trusts were put in evidence. They recite that the said tract had been originally conveyed upon the same trusts as the remaining lands. The defendants then offered to prove declarations of said Stephen, while residing on and having the seisin and control of said tract, that his wife had sold all the property out of his hands, under a power of attorney given not to dispossess him, but to do business for him; that they had compromised a settlement by which the estate owed him a support for life, and at his death and that of his wife it was to go to their daughter, and he was satisfied. Held that such declarations being in harmony with the deeds that he had executed or authorized, and against his interest in reference to the property not conveyed, or not shown to have been conveyed, were admissible.
3. After the evidence was closed, counsel on both sides agreed that as to the title of said Mary there was no conflict of testimony, and that it was a matter for the court to determine. The court thereupon directed the jury to find specially that said Eliza, "at the time of her death, had no estate or interest in the lands claimed which was descendible to her heirs." Held that if the parties meant that the court should determine whether, as a matter of fact, she had or had not such estate or interest, the direction was in the nature of a finding made at heir request, which this Court cannot review; that if the title was to be determined as a matter of law, they must have intended that the declarations of said Stephen were to be received as true, and if so, the direction was proper.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.