Bradford v. Morrison,
212 U.S. 389 (1909)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Bradford v. Morrison, 212 U.S. 389 (1909)

Bradford v. Morrison

No. 60

Argued January 7, 1909

Decided February 23, 1909

212 U.S. 389


The title of a locator to a mining claim located under § 2322, Rev.Stat., is not only property, but property which, in addition to being sold, transferred and mortgaged, is also capable of being inherited without infringing the title of the United States. Under the law of Arizona, in force at the time, real property upon which a judgment was a lien included mining claims.

Page 212 U. S. 390

Title to a mining claim acquired by sale under lien of judgment is subject to forfeiture if conditions subsequent, such a the doing of necessary work, are not performed.

Black v. Elkhorn, 163 U. S. 445, holding that widow's dower did not attach under the law of Montana to the mining claim involved in that case, distinguished.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Arizona affirming a judgment of the District Court of Yavapai County in that territory quieting the title to several mining claims involved in the action.

The appellant brought the action for such purpose under the provision of a statute permitting it, against Morrison, the appellee, together with Elmer R. McDowell and Thomas D. Bennett. McDowell and Bennett made default, but Morrison, the appellee, as the assignee of Bennett, duly filed his amended answer, which contained a special denial that the appellant was the owner of the property described in her complaint, and he then set up that he was the assignee of one Thomas D. Bennett of a certain judgment, which was recovered in the same court in which this proceeding or action was brought, which judgment was for the sum of $2,730.25, and was against the two individuals, Tom Taylor and E. G. Wager, which was docketed December 30, 1899. The case was submitted to the trial court on an agreed statement of facts, and the trial resulted in a judgment quieting plaintiff's interest in the undivided three-fourths of the claim as against the defendants, and quieting appellee Morrison's title as against plaintiff and the other defendants in the remaining one-fourth of such claim.

An appeal taken to the supreme court of the territory resulted in the affirmance of the judgment, and the plaintiff then took an appeal to this Court upon a statement of facts found by the supreme court.

From this statement of facts, it appears that the mining claims in controversy are unpatented lode claims. The judgment in Bennett v. Wager was rendered December 23, 1899,

Page 212 U. S. 391

and docketed December 30, 1899. On December 23, the day of the recovery of the judgment, and continuously thereafter until August 27, 1900, the actual co-owners and possessors of the mining claims were one D.C. Wood, the owner of a one-half interest, and E. G. Wager and Reese M. Ling, each a one-quarter interest. It is in regard to Wager's interest in the claims at that time, December 30, 1899, that the controversy has arisen.

On August 27, 1900, Wood, Wager, and Ling, by mining deed, conveyed their interest in the claims to the McCabe Extension Mining & Milling Company, a corporation, and contemporaneously with the delivery of that deed the grantors placed the corporation in the actual and exclusive possession of the claims. The corporation and its assignee, the plaintiff, ever since that time have been in the actual and exclusive possession of the claims, and have performed each and every year since the year 1900 to the date of the findings, which were filed January 23, 1907, annual labor in excess of the amount of $100 per annum upon each of said claims, and the corporation has, during its possession of the claims, expended more than $40,000 in improvements in and on the mines.

Neither Wager, Wood, nor Ling has been in possession of the claims since August 27, 1900, when they conveyed them to the corporation.

The appellant claims under conveyance executed pursuant to judicial sales made under writs issued on a judgment obtained against the corporation subsequently to the conveyance made to it, and appellant is in the present actual and exclusive possession of the claims. Under one of these sales, a deed was executed and delivered to her on October 26, 1904, which, it is said, related back to November 6, 1902, the date of the filing of the lien of the judgment against the company. On November 29, 1904, an execution was issued on the judgment in Bennett v. Wager, and levied upon the interest which Wager had in the claim at the time judgment was recovered against him (December 30, 1899), and the sale was made under

Page 212 U. S. 392

that levy, December 22, 1904, to the appellee Morrison, and a certificate of sale was issued to him for that interest.

Page 212 U. S. 393

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