The J. E. Rumbell
On August 15, 1891, under a writ of venditioni exponas from the district court of the United States for the northern district of Illinois, in admiralty, the propeller J. E. Rumbell was sold by the marshal for the sum of $1,850, and the proceeds were paid into the registry of the court.
On August 21, 1891, F. August Reich and August Reich, partners under the name of F. A. Reich & Son, former owners of the vessel, who had sold and delivered her to Michael C. Hayes on April 23, 1891, filed a petition against those proceeds, claiming the sum of $3,000 and interest, due upon notes given to them by Hayes for the purchase money, and secured by mortgage of the vessel, executed by Hayes to them on the day of the sale, and recorded on the same day in the office of the collector of customs of the port of Chicago, the residence of the owner, and the home port of the vessel, under section 4192 of the Revised Statutes of the United States. In that mortgage it was provided that if at any time there should be any default of payment, or if the mortgagees should deem themselves in danger of losing any part of the debt by delaying its collection until the time limited for its payment, or if the mortgagor should suffer the vessel to run in debt beyond the sum of $150, the mortgagees might immediately take possession of the vessel, and, after 10 days' notice to the mortgagor, sell her to satisfy the mortgage debt. The petition of the mortgagees alleged that each of these contingencies had happened.
On September 16, 1891, George C. Finney and others filed a petition against said proceeds for sums due to the petitioners severally, and amounting in all to $1,108.56, for ship chandler's supplies, engineer's supplies, groceries, provisions, fuel, lumber, and repairs, bought for and furnished to the vessel at the port of Chicago since the recording of the mortgage, and used for the benefit of the vessel, and alleged to have been reasonable and proper to be furnished and done; and also for the sum of $220, due to Patrick Bowe, one of these petitioners, for services as master of the vessel since the recording of the mortgage; 'for which supplies, repairs, and services' (the certificate stated) 'there was a lien upon the said vessel under the laws of the state of Illinois.'
The district court found and adjudged that the sums claimed in each petition were due to the petitioners respectively; that in the distribution of the proceeds the claim of the mortgagees, Reich & Son, should have priority over that of the other petitioners, Finney and others; and that the entire proceeds of the sale of the vessel, amounting (after payment of seamen's wages and preferred claims for towage and salvage) to $1,105.59, should be paid to the mortgagees.
Finney and others appealed to the circuit court of appeals, which certified to this court the following question: 'Whether a claim arising upon a vessel mortgage is to be preferred to the claim for supplies and necessaries furnished to a vessel in its home port in the state of Illinois subsequently to the date of the recording of the mortgage.'
C. E. Kremer, for Finney and others.
Chas. E. Pope, for Reich and others.
[Argument of Counsel from pages 3-9 intentionally omitted]
Mr. Justice GRAY, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.