Ramsey v. Tacoma Land Company
United States Supreme Court
RAMSEY v. TACOMA LAND COMPANY
Argued: January 17, 1905. --- Decided: January 30, 1905
This was suit commenced in the superior court of Pierce county, Washington, by the plaintiff in error, praying that she be decreed to be the owner of the S. W. 1/4 of the N. W. 1/4 of section 3, township 20 north, range 2 east, in said county, and that the defendants be adjudged to hold the legal title in trust for her. A decree of the trial court in her favor was reversed by the supreme court of the state, and the cause dismissed. 31 Wash. 351, 71 Pac. 1024.
The essential facts, which are not disputed, are stated in the opinion of the supreme court. The land was within the primary limits of the grant to the Northern Pacific Railroad Company by joint resolution of Congress, of May 31, 1870. 16 Stat. at L. 378. The company filed its map of general route on August 13, 1870, and its map of definite location on May 14, 1874. The Land Department thereupon withdrew from sale and entry this with other tracts. On May 19, 1869, one W. C. Kincade made a pre-emption filing on the land, but had abandoned the filing and the land prior to the act of 1870. Subsequently to the filing of the map of definite location the tract was held by the company and considered by the Land Department to have passed to the company until the departmental decision of July 13, 1896, in Corlis v. Northern P. R. Co. 23 Land Dec. 265, on review, 26 Land Dec. 652, which held that lands situated as this were excepted from the grant. In 1874 the railroad company, for value and in good faith, sold and conveyed the land to the Tacoma Land Company, a corporation created under the laws of Pennsylvania. Thereafter that company, for value, and in good faith, sold to the other defendants, who also acted in good faith. The several deeds representing these transactions were placed on record in the county where the tract is situated. On October 13, 1896, the Commissioner of the General Land Office canceled the railroad company's list of the tract in question, on the basis of the decision in Corlis v. Northern P. R. Co. On February 24, 1897, the plaintiff filed in the local land office her application to enter the land as a homestead, which filing was accepted by the local officers, and in May of that year she went upon the land, and has there since remained, making improvements to the value of $1,200. In August, 1897, the land company filed its application to purchase the tract, under § 5 of the act of Congress of March 3, 1887. 24 Stat. at L. 557, chap. 376, U.S.C.omp. Stat. 1901, p. 1595. A contest between the plaintiff and the land company was had in the Department, which resulted in a decision in its favor, and to it a patent was issued.
John F. Shafroth, John C. Stallcup, and J. W. A. Nichols for plaintiff in error.
Messrs. Stanton Warburton and E. R. York for defendants in error.
Mr. Justice Brewer delivered the opinion of the court: