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Nos. 737, 867, 868. Submitted January 2, 1889. - Decided January 6, 1890.
R., a citizen of Texas, made his will there June 7, 1848, by which he de
vised all his property, including the real estate in controversy, (1) to his wife for twenty-one years after his death; (2) after that to his offspring, child or children by his said wife; (3) in the event of the death of his wife without offspring by him, to the children of M. by M's then wife, who was a sister of R.'s wife; (4) in the event of the death of the offspring which he might have by his wife, to his wife for life. M. was named as executor of the will. R. died January 10, 1850, leaving surviving his wife and an infant son. This son was born after the making of the will and died in 1854. The will was duly proved by the executor shortly after R.'s death. About six months after R.'s death his widow married F., by whom she had several children. Two years after the probate of the will F. and his wife commenced proceedings to have the will declared null and void on the ground that the property was communal property. In these proceedings the executor was defendant, and a guardian ad litem was appointed for the infant, and such proceedings were had therein that in October, 1852, a decree was entered, declaring the will to be null and void, and setting it aside; Held, (1) That the devise to the children of M. was a contingent remainder,
to vest only in case of the death of the testator's wife without offspring by him, and limited after the fee which was primarily given
to the testator's child; (2) That, the executor being a defendant and appearing and answering,
and the infant son being represented by a guardian ad litem, and the executor being interested on behalf of his own children that the will should stand, (if that was of any consequence,) all the
necessary parties were before the court to sustain the decree; (3) That the decree could not be attacked collaterally, and was binding
on the children of M. Mc Arthur v. Scott, 113 U. S. 340, distinguished from this case. A contingent interest in real estate or an executory devise is bound by juSyllabus.
dicial proceedings affecting the real estate, where the court has before it all parties that can be brought before it in whom the present estate of inheritance is vested, and the court acts upon the property, according
to the rights that appear, without fraud. In Texas an equitable claim of title to real estate is equally available with a
legal one. In Texas, the holder of a head-right certificate could locate it upon a tract
of public land, and then abandon the location and locate it upon another tract, and, in such case the abandoned tract became thereby again public
land, subject to location by other parties. From the evidence it would appear that the Rutledge certificate which is in
controversy in this case was in the land office in Texas on or before August 1, 1857, in compliance with the requirements of the act of the
Legislature of Texas of August 1, 1856. 1 Paschal's Digest, 701, art. 4210. By the act of the legislature of Texas of April 25, 1871, 2 Paschal's Digest,
1453, arts. 7096–7099, it was provided that a certificate of location and survey of public lands, not on file at the passage of that act, and not withdrawn for locating an unlocated balance, should be returned to and filed in the office within eight months thereafter, or the location and survey should be void; Held, that in the absence of clear proof that a valid located certificate was not on file there within the statutory time, the court would not raise such a presumption in favor of another title, superposed upon the land at a time when the certificate was valid and posses
sion was enjoyed under it. The practice of locating land certificates upon prior rightful locations is not
favored by the laws of Texas. The failure of the holder of a head-right certificate in Texas to complete his
title, by complying with statutory provisions in regard to the filing of
his certificate, enures to the benefit of the State alone. In Texas the rights of a subsequent locator, having actual notice of a prior
location, are postponed to the superior rights of the prior locator,
although the subsequent location may have passed into a patent. The provisions in the constitution and laws of Texas respecting the loca
tion of land certificates, reviewed. In Texas land certificates are chattels, and may be sold by parol agreement and
delivery, the purchaser and grantee thereby acquiring the right to locate
a certificate and to take out a patent in his own name and to his own use. The failure, in a certificate of acknowledgment of a deed of the separate
property of a married woman in Texas, to state that she was examined
apart from her husband, cannot be supplied by proof that such was the fact. In Texas an habendum to a deed running “to have and to hold to him the
said" grantee, “ his heirs and assigns forever, free from the just claim or claims of any and all persons whomsoever, claiming or to claim the same,” imports a general warranty and estops the grantor and his heirs
from setting up an adverse title against the grantee. On the facts the court holds that the statute of limitations of Texas is a
complete bar to the claims set up by the complainants, both in the original bill and in the cross-bills.
Opinion of the Court.
The suit, as it was commenced in a state court. in Texas, was an action of trespass; but, on its removal to the Circuit Court of the United States, a repleader took place on the equity side of the court. The original bill and the crossbills were dismissed, from which decree this appeal was taken. The case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. F. G. Morris for Miller and others, appellants.
Mr. Sawnie Robertson for William Dunlap, Virlinda M. Tilney, joined with her husband, R. P. Tilney, John Graham, Mary C. Cook and John Cook by his next friend Mary C. Cook, appellants in No. 868, and appellees in 737, and 867.
Mr. A. S. Lathrop for the Texas and Pacific Railway Company, appellee.
MR. JUSTICE BRADLEY delivered the opinion of the court.
This suit was originally an action of trespass to try title, brought in March, 1884, in the District Court of Tarrant County, Texas, by William L. Foster and his children, William D. Foster and others, against Elizabeth J. Daggett and her husband, E. B. Daggett, and The Texas and Pacific Railway Company, The Missouri Pacific Railway Company, The Fort Worth and Denver Railway Company and The Gulf, Colorado and Santa Fé Railway Company, to recover possession of 320 acres of land in the city of Fort Worth. Much of the land in question is laid out in streets and covered with buildings, and nearly 100 acres of it is occupied by the said railroad companies, or some of them, for their tracks, station houses, freight depots, shops, etc. The plaintiffs claimed title as heirs at law of one Thomas P. Rutledge, through Eliza A. Foster, wife of William L. Foster, and mother of the other plaintiffs, who had been the wife and widow of said Rutledge, and mother of his only son, deceased. The defendants filed answers, claiming the lands under an alleged purchase from Rutledge of his headright certificate under which the lands were located, and also under an independent title derived by purchase from the heirs
Opinion of the Court.
of one John Childress; and also by long and undisturbed possession. No patent for the lands had ever been granted on the Rutledge title, which was older than the Childress title; but a patent was granted on the latter in June, 1868: so that the various claims under the Rutledge title were of an equitable character, which, in the Texas jurisprudence, is equally available with the legal title.
In October, 1884, Thomas H. Miller and others, children of one Alsey S. Miller, intervened in the suit as plaintiffs, claiming the same land as devisees of Thomas P. Rutledge.
On the 20th of April, 1885, William Dunlap and others filed their petition in the suit, claiming one-half interest in the lands as heirs-at-law of Adaline S. Worrall, wife of one I. R. Worrall; and on the 23d of March, 1886, Martha R. Worrall and others intervened as plaintiffs, claiming the other half interest in the lands as heirs-at-law of said Adaline, through the said I. R. Worrall. The Dunlaps and the Worralls claim under the same right, and allege that Adaline S. Worrall became entitled to the lands by purchase from the heirs of John Childress, and that, on her dying without issue in 1870, her brothers and sisters, represented by William Dunlap and others, inherited one-half of her interest, and her husband, I. R. Worrall, represented by his mother, Martha R. Worrall, and others, inherited the other half.
In December, 1885, the original plaintiffs, William L. Foster and his children, took a non-suit, and were dismissed out of the case, leaving three sets of claimants to the land, to wit: (1) the original defendants, the Daggetts and the railroad companies, who were in possession, claiming under all the titles; (2) Thomas II. Miller and others, claiming as devisees of Thomas P. Rutledge; (3) the Dunlaps and the Worralls, claiming under John Childress, through Adaline S. Worrall.
In March term, 1886, the last set of claimants, William Dunlap and others, and Martha R. Worrall and others, who were citizens of other states than Texas, removed the proceedings into the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Texas; and in that court a repleader took place on the equity side of the court. Thomas H. Miller
Opinion of the Court.
and others, claiming as devisees of Rutledge, filed a bill to maintain their alleged equitable title to the land, and made the other parties defendants, who all filed answers; and the intervenors, Dunlap and others and Worrall and others, also filed separate cross-bills, to which the other parties filed answers. The court below dismissed both the original and crossbills, and this appeal is brought from that decree.
The land in question, when the titles set up by the complainants originated in 1852 and 1868, was of small value; but having become the site of a portion of the city of Fort Worth, and of an important railroad centre, it has acquired a very great value, and is the subject of earnest litigation.
The Rutledge title originated under a head-right for 320 acres of land in Texas, granted in October, 1816, to Thomas P. Rutledge as an emigrant, by the board of land commissioners of Gonzales County, where he then resided. It is alleged by the defendants, and proof was adduced to show, that Rutledge sold this certificate to one Matthew Brinson in or about 1818, and that Brinson sold it to one M. T. Johnson in 1851. It was located by Johnson (in Rutledge's name) on the premises in dispute in 1851 or 1852, and a survey pursuance of such location was made January 8, 1852, by A. J. Lee, deputy surveyor for the Robertson Land District. It had previously been located on lands in Fannin County, but the evidence shows (as we think) that that location was abandoned, and that the location on the lands in dispute took the place of it.
The following is the copy of the survey made by Lee, to wit:
“THE STATE OF TEXAS, Robertson Land District :
“I have surveyed for Thomas P. Rutledge 320 acres of land situated in Tarrant County, about of a mile S. E. from Fort Worth and 5} miles S. 44 W. from Birdville, by virtue of his head-right certificate No. 134, class 3rd, issued by the board of land comm’rs for Gonzales County on the 12th day of October, 18416
Beginning at the S. E. cor. of W. W. Warnell's 1280 sur.,