Graham v. United States,
71 U.S. 259 (1866)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Graham v. United States, 71 U.S. 4 Wall. 259 259 (1866)

Graham v. United States

71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 259


1. The Mexican law made a formal delivery of possession of real property granted essential, after the execution of the grant, for the investiture of the title.

Page 71 U. S. 260

2. The proceeding had upon such delivery -- called, in the language of the country, the delivery of juridical possession -- was usually taken by the magistrate of the vicinage, with assisting witnesses, in the presence of the adjoining land proprietors, and involved, when there was any uncertainty in the description of the premises, a measurement of the land and the establishment of its boundaries.

3. The record of a proceeding of this nature must control the action of the officers of the United States in surveying the land granted when the grant is confirmed.

On the 22d of April, 1841, a grant of land was issued to one Mayors by the Governor of California. The grant describes the land granted as that formerly occupied by Francis Moss and known by the name of Zayante, bordering on the village of Brancoforte and Mission of Santa Cruz, and as being in extent "longitudinally one league, and latitudinally one-half league, more or less," as explained by an accompanying diagram.

This grant was transferred to the appellants by the grantee, and was by them presented to the Board of Land Commissioners for confirmation, and was confirmed by the board on the 26th of June, 1855. An appeal taken from the decree by the United States was withdrawn on the 9th of February, 1857, and by consent of the district attorney upon instructions from the Attorney General, a decree was entered on that day by the district court giving leave to the claimants to proceed upon the decree of the board as a final decree. In the proceedings before the board, the claimants produced an original record of juridical measurement, from which it appeared that the grantee was formally put in possession of the premises granted by the proper officer to the extent of one square league in length by three thousand varas in width.

The decree of the board describes the land as follows:

"The land of which confirmation is made is situated in the County of Santa Cruz, and is known by the name of Zayante, being the same which is now held and occupied by the claimants, and is of the extent of one league in length, and a half league in width, a little more or less, as shown by the original grant, record of juridical possession, and map filed in

Page 71 U. S. 261

the case, to all of which reference is hereby made for a more particular description."

In surveying the land confirmed, the Surveyor General of the United States for California did not follow the measurement contained in the record of juridical possession. The district court for that reason set it aside and ordered a new survey which should correspond with such measurement. Such survey being made was approved by the decree of the district court October 26, 1863. From this decree the present appeal was taken, and the question presented is whether this survey embraces the land granted and confirmed.

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