Airhart v. Massieu - 98 U.S. 491 (1878)


U.S. Supreme Court

Airhart v. Massieu, 98 U.S. 491 (1878)

Airhart v. Massieu, 98 U.S. 491 (1878)

98 U.S. 491

Syllabus

1. A Mexican was not, by the revolution which resulted in the independence of Texas or by her Constitution of March 17, 1836, or her laws subsequently enacted, divested of his title to lands in that state, but he retained the right to alienate and transmit them to his heirs, and the latter are entitled to sue for and recover them.

2. The division of a country and the maintenance of independent governments over its different parts do not of themselves divest the rights which the citizens of either have to property situate within the territory of the other.

3. That Constitution, although declaring generally that aliens shall not hold land in Texas except by title emanating directly from the government, did not divest their title, for it adds that "they shall have a reasonable time to take possession of and dispose of the same in a manner hereafter to be pointed out by law." Before the title can be divested, proceedings for enforcing its forfeiture must be provided by law and carried into effect, and hitherto they have not been provided.

4. In Texas, the protocol of a Mexican title is an archive which may be deposited in the General Land Office at any time, subject to all just implications arising from delay and the circumstances of its history, and when so deposited, a certified copy thereof from the land office is competent prima facie evidence of the title.

5. Until a title is deposited in the land office or duly recorded in the proper county, bona fide purchasers not having notice thereof, though claiming under a junior Mexican grant, will be protected.

Page 98 U. S. 492



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