Close v. Glenwood Cemetery,
107 U.S. 466 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Close v. Glenwood Cemetery, 107 U.S. 466 (1883)

Close v. Glenwood Cemetery

Decided March 5, 1883

107 U.S. 466


1. A cemetery company was incorporated in 1854 by an act of Congress which authorized it to purchase and hold ninety acres of land in the District of Columbia, and to receive gifts and bequests for the purpose of ornamenting and improving the cemetery, enacted that its affairs should be conducted by a president and three other managers, to be elected annually by the votes of the proprietors, and to have power to lay out and ornament the grounds, to sell or dispose of burial lots, and to make bylaws for the conduct of its affairs and the government of lot holders and visitors, fixed the amount of the capital stock, to be divided among the proprietors according to their respective interests, and provided that the land dedicated to the purposes of a cemetery should not be subject to taxation of any kind and

Page 107 U. S. 467

no highways should be opened through it and that it should be lawful for Congress thereafter to alter, amend, modify or repeal the act. Presently afterwards, thirty of the ninety acres were laid out as a cemetery, the cemetery was dedicated by public religious services, and a pamphlet was published containing a copy of the charter, a list of the officers, an account of the proceedings at the dedication, describing the cemetery as "altogether comprising ninety acres, thirty of which are now fully prepared for interments," and the bylaws of the corporation, which declared that all lots should be held in pursuance of the charter. No stock was ever issued. But the owner of the whole tract, named in the charter as one of the original associates, and in the list published in the pamphlet as the president and a manager of the corporation, knowing all the above facts and never objecting to the appropriation of the property as appearing thereby, for more than twenty years managed the cemetery, sold about two thousand burial lots, and gave to each purchaser a copy of the pamphlet and a deed of the lot, signed by himself as president, bearing the seal of the corporation, and having the bylaws printed thereon. In 1877, Congress passed an act amending the charter of the corporation, providing that its property and affairs should be managed so as to secure the equitable rights of all persons having any vested interest in the cemetery, by a board of five trustees to be elected annually, three by the proprietors of lots owned in good faith upon which a burial had been made and two by the original proprietors, and that, of the gross receipts arising from the future sale of lots, one-fourth should be annually paid by the trustees to the original proprietors and the rest be devoted to the improvement and maintenance of the cemetery. Held that the act of 1877 was a constitutional exercise of the power of amendment reserved in the act of 1854; that the owner of the land was estopped to deny the existence of the corporation, the setting apart of the whole ninety acres as a cemetery, and the right of the lot holders to elect a majority of the trustees, and that he was in equity bound to convey the whole tract to the corporation in fee, and to account to the corporation for three-fourths of the sums received by him from sales of lots since the act of 1877, and the corporation to pay him one-fourth of the gross receipts from future sales of lots.

2. Pending a bill in equity against the owner of land to compel a conveyance of the title subject to certain rights of his in the rents and profits, a receiver appointed in another suit against him, and to whom he had by order of court in that suit assigned his interest in the land, applied to be and was made a defendant, and answered and also filed a cross-bill against both the original parties, which was afterwards ordered to be stricken from the files, with leave for him to apply for leave to file a cross-bill; but he never applied for such leave. The case was heard upon pleadings and proofs, and a final decree entered ordering the original defendant to convey to the complainant, and the complainant to account to him or his assigns for part of the rents and profits, and that this decree be without prejudice to the rights of the receiver. Held that the receiver was not aggrieved.

Page 107 U. S. 468

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