Page images

Statement of the Case.

the act of July 17, 1854, c. 83, 10 Stat. 304. These locations, it is alleged, were prior in time and right to the claim of Hicks, and therefore the patent was illegally issued to Hicks. It was prayed that the title represented by the patent be adjudged to be held in trust for the defendants in error, and that the plaintiff in error be required to convey such title to them in proportion to their interests set forth in their cross bill,

The controversy turns upon the validity of the scrip locations. Their validity was adjudged by the district court, and by the Supreme Court of the State. 79 Minnesota, 142. This writ of error was then sued out.

The facts as found by the court are: That under the act of July 17, 1854, and in pursuance of said act, there were issued to Orillie Moreau certificates commonly known as Sioux halfbreed scrip numbered 19E and 19D, which entitled her to select and take one hundred and sixty acres of the public lands of the United States of the classes mentioned in said act; "that thereafter, and on the 16th day of June, A. D. 1883, the said Orillie Moreau, then Orillie Stram, never having theretofore made use of the said certificates of scrip, and the same never having been in any manner extinguished or satisfied, through the defendant Frank W. Eaton, who had theretofore been by her duly empowered as her attorney in fact for that purpose, presented said *scrip at the local land office in Duluth, Minnesota, and then and there made application to locate the same on certain then unsurveyed lands of the United States in said district in which said land office was located, and did then and there enter and file upon by virtue of said scrip the lands for which said application was made as aforesaid, and filed therewith a diagram or plat of said land embracing a sufficient description thereof to properly designate the same, which lands were in said application described by metes and bounds;" and that the same were “ lands not reserved by the Government of the United States for

any purpose whatsoever ;” and also that “prior to the location of said scrip upon said land as above found improvements had been made thereon, consisting of a house 14 by 16 feet, by and under the authority of the said Frank W. Eaton."

On the 20th of July, 1885, the lands having been duly sur

Statement of the Case.

veyed, a plat and survey of the township in which the lands were situated were “duly filed in the local land office at the city of Duluth, Minnesota, and thereupon and on the 21st day of July, 1885, upon application of the said Orillie Stram, acting by and through her said attorney in fact, said certificate of Sioux half-breed scrip number 19D was adjusted to and upon the lands in controversy,” (they were specifically described,) and the scrip was then and there duly located upon said lands as surveyed lands, and the locations were allowed by the officers of the local land office at Duluth, there not being at that time nor at the time the scrip was located upon the lands when unsurveyed, nor at any other time, any valid adverse claim to said lands; and on the 21st of July, 1885, receiver's final receipts and certificates of entry were duly and regularly issued to said Orillie Stram, and duly and regularly recorded in the counties of Lake and St. Louis, Minnesota, within a few days thereafter.

The “rights and interests” of Orillie Stram, by sundry mesne conveyances, were conveyed to the defendants in the proportions respectively as follows: “Frank W. Eaton, the undivided 13–36; Merrill M. Clark, the undivided 9-36; Margaretha Lonstorf, the undivided 8-36, and Richard H. Fagan, the undivided 6–36, and the said defendants are still the owners of the said lands in said proportions.”

That on the 20th of July, 1885, one Thomas Hyde and one Angus McDonald respectively made application to make pre emption filings on portions of the lands in controversy, which applications were denied both on the ground of the prior locations of the scrip and that the applications were not made in good faith, but in fraud, and in violation of the preëmption laws. And it was determined by the local land office and sustained by the Commissioner of the General Land Office, and by the Secretary of the Interior, that neither Hyde vor McDonald ever had or obtained any rights whatsoever by reason of their application or any subsequent proceedings; but, notwithstanding, said Hyde and said McDonald “made an attack upon the said decisions of the Land Department some time in November, 1885, and upon the location of the said certificates

Statement of the Case.

of scrip and the entry of lands thereunder.” A hearing was had on the 6th of April, 1886, and the local land officers sustained the scrip locations. An appeal was taken to the Commissioner of the General Land Office, and he held “adversely to the scrip locations.” An appeal was then taken to the Secretary of the Interior. A hearing was had before the Secretary, February 18, 1889, and he held and determined that neither Hyde nor McDonald had any interest or valid claim to the lands, but, notwithstanding, also held that the scrip locations were illegal and invalid, and that neither Orillie Stram nor those claiming under her were entitled to the lands for the following reasons: (1) that the improvements made upon the land when it was unsurveyed were not made under the personal supervision of Orillie Stram, and that she had not had personal contact with the land; (2) that the power of attorney to Eaton to locate the scrip, and the power of attorney executed at the same time to Leonidas Merritt to sell the lands which should be located, operated as an assignment of the scrip, and were in violation of the act of July 17, 185+, and the entry of the lands therefore was not for the benefit of said Orillie Stram ; (3) that the subsequent location and adjustment of the scrip to the lands after the latter were surveyed were ineffectual in view of the previous attempt to locate the scrip, and in view of his (the Secretary's) decision relative to the question of improvements; (4) that Orillie Stram had no power to alienate the lands before location of the scrip or to contract for the sale of them, or to grant a power of attorney to sell the same for her after they should be located, but held that she had the right to sell immediately after location of the scrip. As a deduction from these conclusions, the Secretary held that the lands were still public lands and open to entry. The decision of the Secretary was attached to the findings as an exhibit.

That on the 31st day of March, 1886, and prior to the hearing had before the local land office at Duluth, the said Orillie Stram and her husband Roman Stram made and executed a deed for seven ninths of the land in controversy to Frank W. Eaton, with warranty of title. The deed was subsequently recorded in St. Louis and Lake counties.

Statement of the Case.

The deed recited the location of the scrip in the land office at Duluth, June 16, 1883, by Eaton, as the constituted and appointed attorney in fact of the Strams, and that the title thereby vested in Orillie Stram. It also recited the survey of the lands and the adjustment of the scrip and entry to such lands, and “thereby the aforesaid scrip and entry were adjusted July 21, A. D. 1885, thereby specifically and perfectly describing the land filed upon for me, the said Orillie Stram, by the said Frank W. Eaton, and intended to be entered on June 15, A. D. 1883, in the name of the said Orillie Stram, by our attorney in fact, the said Frank W. Eaton.” It also recited the power of attorney given to Leonidas Merritt, acknowledged it, and ratified and confirmed the conveyance by him to Eaton.

It was further found that in pursuance of the decision of the Secretary of the Interior the lands were attempted to be thrown open to public entry, and a patent was subsequently issued to Frank Hicks, and that Frank Hicks and his wife conveyed the same to The Midway Company, the plaintiff in error, “who now holds whatever title thereto enured to the said Frank Hicks." That neither Orillie Stram nor her husband, nor any of the defendants, “were in any manner parties to the proceedings to the decision of the Secretary of the Interior rendered on the 18th of February, 1889, and that said Hicks had at all times full knowledge of all rights and claims of the defendants.” That the findings of fact of the Secretary of the Interior were fully sustained by the evidence in the cause presented to him, “except that it is found as a fact by this court, that the improvements caused to be erected by Frank W. Eaton upon the said premises consisted of a house about 14 by 16 feet in size; and it is further found as a fact that from the evidence before the Secretary of the Interior in said cause, presented to him by the record upon said appeal, it did not appear that the scrip referred to in the decision of said Secretary had passed through many hands or through any hands before coming into the hands of the said Frank W. Eaton, nor did it appear that the powers of attorney to locate said scrip and to convey the land located therewith had been executed by the said Orillie Stram years before the location thereof by the said Frank W. Eaton, but that

Opinion of the Court.

on the contrary it appeared from the evidence before the Secretary that said powers of attorney were executed by the said Orillie Stram about one week before the location of the said scrip by the said Frank W. Eaton, and that the said powers did not contain the names of the grantees. It is further found as a fact that it did not appear from the evidence before the said Secretary that the said Orillie Stram never saw the said lands; it did not appear from the evidence before the said Secretary that she had sold the said scrip long prior to the location thereof; it did not appear from the evidence before the said Secretary that for a long time she directly and positively repudiated Eaton and Merritt as her attorneys in fact, denying that they acted for her in any capacity whatsoever.”

Mr. P. H. Seymour

Mr. Walter Ayers for plaintiff in error. was on his brief.

Mr. Jed. L. Washburn and Mr. Luther C. Harris for defendants in error. Mr. C. A. Towne and Mr. William D. Bailey were on their briefs.

MR. JUSTICE McKenna, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

The decision of the controversies in this case depends upon the validity or invalidity of the scrip locations, either originally when the land was unsurveyed, or subsequently when the location was adjusted to the land as surveyed.

The act of Congress of July 17, 1854, c. 83, 10 Stat. 304, authorized the issue of scrip to the half-breeds of the Sioux Nation of Indians in exchange for certain lands, which scrip might be located (1) upon any land within the Sioux half-breed reservation; or (2)“ upon any other unoccupied lands subject to preemption or private sale;” or (3)“ upon any other unsurveyed lands not reserved by the Government, upon which they (the half-breeds) have respectively made improvements. It is provided in said act, “That no transfer or conveyance of any of said certificates or scrip issued shall be valid.”

« PreviousContinue »