Johnson v. Pennel's Heirs
Annotate this Case
15 U.S. 206 (1817)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Johnson v. Pennel's Heirs, 15 U.S. 2 Wheat. 206 206 (1817)
Johnson v. Pennel's Heirs
15 U.S. (2 Wheat.) 206
It is essential to the validity of an entry that the land intended to be appropriated should be so described as to give notice of the appropriation to subsequent locators.
In taking the distance from one point to another on a large river, the measurement is to be with its meanders, and not in a direct line.
In ascertaining a place to be found by its distance from another place, the vague words "about" or "nearly" and the like are to be rejected if there are no other words rendering it necessary to retain them, and the distance mentioned is to be taken positively.
Entries made in a wilderness, most generally referring to some prominent and notorious natural object which may direct the attention to the neighborhood in which the land is placed and then to some particular object exactly describing it, the first of these is denominated the general or descriptive call and the last the particular or locative call of the entry. Reasonable certainty is required in both; if the descriptive call will not inform a subsequent locator in what neighborhood he is to search for the land, the entry is defective unless the particular object is one of sufficient notoriety. If, after having reached the neighborhood, the locative object cannot be found within the limits of the descriptive calls, the entry is also defective. A single call may at the same time be of such a nature (as, for example, a spring of general notoriety) as to constitute within itself both a call of description and of location, but if this call be accompanied with another, such as a marked tree at the spring, it seems to be required that both should be satisfied.
The call for an unmarked tree of a kind which is common in the neighborhood of a place sufficiently described by the other parts of the entry to be fixed with certainty may be considered as an immaterial call.
Therefore, where the entry was in the following words,
"D. P. enters two thousand acres on a Treasury warrant on the Ohio, about twelve miles below the mouth of Licking, beginning at a hickory and sugar tree on the river bank, running up the river from thence one thousand and sixty poles, thence at right angles to the same, and back for quantity,"
it was held that the call for a sugar tree might be declared ,
immaterial and the location be sustained on the other calls.
The entry was decreed to be surveyed, beginning twelve miles below the mouth of Licking on the bank of the Ohio and running up that river one thousand and sixty poles, which line was to form the base of a rectangular parallelogram to include two thousand acres of land.