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Opinion of the Court.
now in the name of R. Briggs, at a stake, whence a hackberry
“A. J. LEE, D. S. R. L. D.,
This survey was duly recorded in the records of the land district and filed in the General Land Office of the State; but no patent was issued upon it.
The tract thus surveyed was an exact square of 1344 varas, or 12441 yards on each side. One E. M. Daggett located another tract of 320 acres somewhere in the same neighborhood, and in the year 1853 or 1854 he made an exchange with Johnson for the lot in question, and in June, 1855, Johnson executed to Daggett a deed, of which the following is a copy to wit:
“ THE STATE OF TEXAS, County of Tarrant:
“Know all men by these presents that I, M. T. Johnson, of the state and county aforesaid, for and in the consideration of the three hundred and twenty acre land certificate issued by the board of land commissioners of Shelby county, in the name of E. M. Daggett, class 3rd, and as deeded to me by said Daggett this day, I have bargained, sold, and aliened unto the aforesaid E. M. Daggett all and singular the head-right certificate of T. P. Rutledge, and I warrant and defend the right and title of said head-right to his heirs or legal representatives free from myself and heirs, &c., and place E. M. Daggett forever in full ownership, the said head-right being located near Fort Worth, bounded on the east by a survey in the name of M. T. Johnson, a colony certificate, and on the west by a survey made of Jennings, and on the north by a survey in the name of Rebecca Briggs, all to be divested from me,
Opinion of the Court.
my heirs or any person claiming the same, and placing E. M. Daggett, his heirs or legal representatives, in full ownership of the same forever.
“Given under my hand and seal this 23d day of June, A.D. 1855.
«M. T. JOHNSON. [L. S. “Attest: JULIAN FIELD.
“ John P. SMITH.”
This deed was duly proved and recorded on the 30th day of March, 1857. Daggett, according to the weight of the testimony, went into possession of the land in 1854, prior to the date of the deed ; built upon and improved it, and occupied it as his homestead, (with the exception of such portions as he sold or leased to other parties,) until his death April 19th, 1883. The defendants Elizabeth J. Daggett and her husband claim portions of the land under the will of said E. M. Daggett, and the railroad companies claim other portions as his grantees; and both allege that the possession of said E. M. Daggett and of themselves under him has been continuous for nearly thirty years prior to the commencement of the suit ; namely, from the time when said Daggett first took possession of the land in 1854; and that such possession has been under a deed duly registered from the time the said deed was given by Johnson to Daggett.
T. II. Miller et al., the complainants, deny that Rutledge ever sold his head-right certificate to Brinson, or any one else, and claim that its location on the land in question enured to the benefit of Rutledge alone, and to themselves as his devisees, under a will made by him on the 7th of June, 1848. That will is in evidence. By it, Rutledge devised, first, all bis property to his wife, Eliza A. Rutledge, for twenty-one years after his death; and after giving some directions about certain specific personal property, devised as follows:
“Fifth. I direct that after the expiration of twenty-one years from and after my death, all of my estate, both real and personal, shall be owned and enjoyed by my offspring or child or children by my said wife.
Opinion of the Court.
“Seventh. In the event of the death of my said wife without offspring by me at her death which may survive her, I direct that all of my estate, real and personal, shall be owned equally by the children of Alsey S. Miller which may survive me, which he may have by his present wife.
“ Eighth. In the event of the death of the offspring which I may have by my said wife, I direct that my said wife shall have all of my estate, both real and personal, for and during her life.
“Ninth. I do appoint the said Alsey S. Miller, of said county and state, my executor of this my last will and testament.”
Rutledge died on the 10th of January, 1850, leaving surviving him his wife, Eliza A. Rutledge, and an infant son, William M. Rutledge, who was born after the making of the will, but who died in 1854, about six years of age.
Eliza A. Rutledge, after her husband's death, married William L. Foster in July, 1850, by whom she had several children, and died in February, 1881.
The will was regularly proved in April, 1850, by Alsey S. Miller, the executor, whose wife was a sister of Eliza A. Rutledge, and whose children were the devisees in remainder named in the will. It will be seen that the said remainder was a contingent one, to vest only in case of the death of the testator's wife without offspring by him. It was also limited after the fee which was primarily given to the testator's child.
More than two years after the probate of the will, proceedings were instituted by William L. Foster and his wife Eliza A. Foster, in the District Court of Gonzales County, having the proper jurisdiction, to have the will declared null and void. Alsey S. Miller, the executor, was made defendant, and the court appointed S. B. Conley guardian ad litem for William M. Rutledge, the infant child of the testator. The petition for nullity of the will alleged that the property of the deceased was community property; that the will was made before the birth of the child ; that the disposition made was contrary to law, and trammelled with illegal and embarrassing conditions. It further stated that the executor had faithfully performed
Opinion of the Court.
his trust, had paid all debts of the estate, and was ready to close it. The executor filed an answer, admitting the allegations of the petition, and not opposing its prayer. The guardian ad litem filed an answer, leaving the matter under the control of the court to act in its wise discretion as to justice should seem meet. The court thereupon made a decree as follows:
“Saturday, October 23d, 1852. “Came all the parties by their att'ys, and S. B. Conley, Esq., guardian ail litem for the minor, W. M. Rutledge, and the matters and things being all before the court by the pleading and record evidence therein, the same was submitted to the court, and, being heard, it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed by the court that the will of the deceased, Thomas P. Rutledge, made on the 7th June, 1848, and admitted to probate on the 29th April, 1850, be, and the same is hereby, declared to be null, void, and of no effect, and that the same be in all things set aside and held for naught. It is further ordered, adjudged and decreed that the said Eliza Ann Foster, as relict of said Rutledge, deceased, and the said W. M. Rutledge, minor, be entitled to take, receive and hold all the property of said deceased jointly between them as heirs-at-law, be the same real, personal or mixed, and subject to the action of the county court of Gonzales County as to distribution after the debts are paid and estate closed by the report of the executor, whose acts under the will are not impaired by this decree, and that said court is required to make the yearly allowance to the said Eliza Ann Foster, in accordance with law and the order of said county court. It is further ordered and adjudged that the executor, out of the funds of the estate, pay the costs herein expended, and that this decree be duly certified to the county court for observance.”
If this decree is valid, it disposes of the claim of the complainants, Thomas II. Miller and others, which is based on the devise of the will. The precise question came before the Supreme Court of Texas in the recent case of Thomas H.
Opinion of the Court.
Miller et al. v. W. L. Foster et al., (not yet reported,) and was decided against the contention of the appellants, Miller et al. The Commission of Appeals held that the decree of nullity was valid, and that all the necessary parties were before the court when it was rendered. This decision was approved by the Supreme Court.
It is contended by appellants that the decision in the case of MacArthur v. Scott, 113 U. S. 310, is adverse to this view. But a careful examination of that case will show that this is not correct. The decree setting aside the will in that case was held not to be binding upon certain grandchildren of the testator, not born when it was passed, because their interests (which were executory) were supported by a legal trust estate in the executors, which was not represented in the proceedings. No trustee of that estate was made a party. The executors had resigned their office, and the court had accepted their resignation; and no new trustee had been appointed in their stead, as might have been done. There was no party in the case to represent the will, or the interests created by it, or the legal estate which supported those interests. This was the special ground on which the decision in Mac Arthur v. Scott was placed, as is fully expressed in the opinion.
In the present case the executor was a defendant in the proceedings instituted for avoiding the will, and appeared and filed an answer; and the infant son of Rutledge, who was devisee in fee of the whole estate after the termination of his mother's interest, was represented in the proceedings by a guardian ad litem. Moreover, if the circumstance is of any consequence, the executor was interested on behalf of his own children that the will should stand, -- as they were the principal devisees in remainder. We think that the Supreme Court of Texas was right in holding that all the necessary parties were before the court. We are also of opinion that the decree avoiding the will cannot be attacked collaterally ; and that it is binding on the appellants, Thomas II. Miller and others. The entire estate was represented before the court, a particular estate in the widow, and the fee simple remainder in the infant son. The interest of the appellants, Thomas H.