Carpenter v. Rannels,
86 U.S. 138 (1873)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Carpenter v. Rannels, 86 U.S. 19 Wall. 138 138 (1873)

Carpenter v. Rannels

86 U.S. (19 Wall.) 138


A. having, prior to July, 1801, an inchoate title to lands in the then French Territory of what is now Missouri, agreed in July of that year to sell it, on certain conditions of improvement required by the government, to B. On B.'s making the required improvements, the land was to "belong to him in full proprietorship," and A. bound himself, his heirs, and assigns,

"to solicit title from the government, and to make a regular transfer to the said B. without any further cost on his part, except the expenses of the necessary deed."

The said French territory, having

Page 86 U. S. 139

passed to the United States in 1803 and commissioners having been appointed in 1805 by act of Congress "to ascertain and adjust titles and claims" to lands within the newly acquired territory, B. appeared before the board in April, 1811, with his conditional transfer from A., and the board, as a record in their minute book showed, "grant to A. or his legal representatives" the land thus claimed, and order the same to be surveyed "so as to include his improvements." In the June following, the commissioners issued their certificate, in which they say, "We . . . have decided that the legal representatives of A., original claimant, are entitled to a patent," &c., for the land, "and order the same to be surveyed so as to include his improvements," &c. The land thus granted having been injured by earthquakes, and Congress, in February, 1815, having authorized persons whose land had been thus injured to make new locations of the same quantity of land on any of the public lands then open for sale in the same territory, it appeared by different records that A., asserting that his land had been thus injured, claimed new land, and also that A. "or his legal representatives" claimed it. A patent was finally issued reciting that in pursuance of the Act of Congress of February, 1815, there had been located for A. "or his legal representatives" a tract described, the habendum of the patent being to the said A. "or his legal representatives and to his or their heirs and assigns forever."

Held that the title enured to B. and his legal representatives, and that no other representative of A., whether hereditary or by contract, had any right, legal or equitable, to the premises.

Carpenter brought ejectment against Rannels in one of the circuit courts of Missouri to recover possession of two hundred arpents or acres of land in the County of St. Louis, located under a New Madrid certificate of relocation, No. 511, which was issued under an Act of Congress of February 17, 1815, [Footnote 1] and acts supplementary thereto, in lieu of lands in New Madrid County which had been injured by earthquakes and upon which certificate a patent issued, dated March 30, 1833, to "John Butler or his legal representatives."

The plaintiff claimed, under the confirmation and patent, directly through the heirs of this John Butler.

The defendant claimed also through the confirmation and patent to Butler, but asserted that the same had in law

Page 86 U. S. 140

passed the equitable title to one James Bankston, hereinafter mentioned, and whom he asserted to be the "legal representative" of the said Butler, and he gave evidence tending to show derivative title under Bankston.

The cause was submitted to the court without the intervention of a jury. The court found and gave judgment for the defendant, and that judgment being affirmed in the supreme court of the state, [Footnote 2] the plaintiff brought the case here for review.

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