Medbury v. United States
The appellant herein filed her petition in the court of claims, and sought to recover judgment by virtue of the provisions of the act approved June 16, 1880 (21 Stat. 287).
The attorney general denied all the allegations of the petition, and the case was tried by the court upon the following agreed statement of facts: Congress made a grant of lands to the Wisconsin Central Railroad Company by the act of March 5, 1864 (13 Stat. 66), which contained the condition that the railroad should be built as therein provided. After the grant, the price of the lands reserved within its place limits was raised from $1.25 per acre to $2.50 per acre, under the authority of law and by the direction of the secretary of the interior. In 1872, one Samuel Medbury made an entry of more than 7,000 acres of land, within the place limits of that grant, and at the double minimum price of $2.50 per acre; and he died, in 1874, leaving his widow, the appellant herein, and a son and daughter, who subsequently conveyed to the appellant all their interest in the claim herein made.
The conditions upon which the grant of lands was made to that particular section of the proposed railroad were never complied with, and the proposed railroad was never constructed, for which reason the grant was, by the act of congress of September 29, 1890 (26 Stat. 496), forfeited to the United States. By reason of this failure to build the railroad, and because of the forfeiture of the land grant by congress, the lands purchased by Medbury ceased to be alternate sections of land within a railroad land grant, although they were such when he purchased them. Thereafter, and on the 14th of November, 1894, Lucetta R. Medbury, as the widow and heir of Samuel Medbury, made application to the secretary of the interior for the repayment of the excess of $1.25 per acre upon the seven thousand and odd acres of land entered by her husband, the application being made under the second section of the act of June 16, 1880 (21 Stat. 287), and on October 5, 1897, the application was denied by the secretary. Upon these findings of fact, the court of claims decided, as a conclusion of law, that t e petition should be dismissed for want of jurisdiction. From that decision the claimant has appealed to this court.
Russell Duane and Harvey Spalding, for appellant.
Asst. Atty. Gen. Pradt and George H. Gorman, for the United States.
Mr. Justice PECKHAM, after stating the facts, delivered the opinion of the court.
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