« ForrigeFortsett »
at that time and acting as such. The title of the grant was confirmed and a survey was ordered to determine what lands were embraced within the limits of the same. This survey was made by the Surveyor General of New Mexico and reported to the court, and the title to the lands so embraced within the limits of such survey was confirmed in the Colony of Refugio. This survey, so made as aforesaid, embraced a smaller tract than did the Elkins & Marmon survey, and the lands in question here, together with other lands, were without the limits of the survey, made under the direction and by authority of the Court of Private Land Claims. The judgment of the Court of Private Land Claims establishing the boundaries and confirming the title to the lands within the limits of such survey, so made by the Surveyor General of New Mexico, was entered in the year 1903, and from which no appeal was taken.
"The parties owning land without the limits of the grant as confirmed, but within the Elkins & Marmon survey, continued in possession thereof and resided thereon with their families, and dealt with said lands as though they had been invested with the legal title to the same. No action was ever taken by the United States, so far as the record discloses, to dispossess them, although the legal title to said lands was in the United States. In 1909, when the deed to Smith was executed by Reinhart, a bill was pending before Congress to validate the titles of the bona fide claimants to said lands so found to be without the limits of the confirmed survey."
"Said lands were for many years, before and after the Mexican cession to the United States, in good faith considered to be a part of the Refugio Colony Grant, a Mexican Community Grant, and were so held in good faith by the owners of the said grant; and that the commissioners of the said grant, in good faith, allotted and conveyed the said lands to certain members of said commu
Opinion of the Court.
244 U. S.
nity who settled on the said grant; and that the titles and claims of the allottees thereto were passed and deraigned by a chain of sufficient mesne conveyance to the said W. H. Reinhart; and that said W. H. Reinhart and his predecessors in title and claim held, occupied and possessed the said lands for more than fifteen years, under and by virtue of the conveyances from the commissioners of the Refugio Colony Grant and the said mesne conveyances; and that the said defendant D. B. Smith and his assigns now hold and possess and are cultivating the said lands under and by virtue of the said conveyances from the commissioners of the Refugio Colony Grant, and the said mesne conveyances, and the said conveyance from the said W. H. Reinhart to defendant D. B. Smith, and subsequent conveyances from D. B. Smith to his said assigns."
"The plaintiffs have such deed of conveyance from the Refugio Colony Grant owners and mesne chain of conveyances down to W. H. Reinhart and D. B. Smith and wife as they plead in their reply and such as defendants plead that they hold under.
"During the examination of a witness for plaintiffs, Dionicio Alvarez, counsel for defendants made the following 'admission':
"It is admitted by the defendants, for the purpose of shortening the testimony, that the parties mentioned in the chain of transfers from the Refugio Colony down to the date of the rendition of the decree of the Court of Private Land Claims in evidence were holders under the chain of title mentioned, in good faith, under color of title and in good faith.""
Section 1, Act of Congress February 25, 1885, follows: "Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all inclosures of any public lands in any State or Territory of the United States, heretofore or to be hereafter made, erected, or constructed by any person, party,
association, or corporation, to any of which land included within the inclosure the person, party, association, or corporation making or controlling the inclosure had no claim or color of title made or acquired in good faith, or an asserted right thereto by or under claim, made in good faith with a view to entry thereof at the proper land-office under the general laws of the United States at the time any such inclosure was or shall be made, are hereby declared to be unlawful, and the maintenance, erection, construction, or control of any such inclosure is hereby forbidden and prohibited; and the assertion of a right to the exclusive use and occupancy of any part of the public lands of the United States in any State or any of the Territories of the United States, without claim, color of title, or asserted right as above specified as to inclosures, is likewise declared unlawful, and hereby prohibited."
Section 4 of the same act makes violation of any provision thereof a misdemeanor punishable by fine and imprisonment.
The Supreme Court declared: "Upon this appeal, the only question which requires consideration is whether the evidence shows that Reinhart had 'no claim or color of title made or acquired in good faith' to the land in question at the time he conveyed the same. If he did not, the judgment must be reversed; on the other hand, if he had color of title to the land, made or acquired in good faith, the judgment entered was proper and must be affirmed. The deed from Potter to Reinhart constituted color of title, so that the only question of any practical importance for determination is whether Reinhart's title was acquired and held in good faith, within the meaning of the act of Congress." And relying upon Cameron v. United States, 148 U. S. 301, 305 and Searl v. School District, 133 U. S. 553, it held that although Reinhart was fully cognizant of all the facts he, nevertheless, had a claim or color of title to the lands made or acquired
Opinion of the Court.
in good faith within the true intendment of the Act of 1885. With this conclusion,we agree.
In Cameron v. United States, supra, we said: "The Act of Congress [approved Feb. 25, 1885] which forms the basis of this proceeding was passed in view of a practice which had become common in the Western Territories of enclosing large areas of lands of the United States by associations of cattle raisers, who were mere trespassers, without shadow of title to such lands, and surrounding them by barbed wire fences, by which persons desiring to become settlers upon such lands were driven or frightened away, in some cases by threats or violence. The law was, however, never intended to operate upon persons who had taken possession under a bona fide claim or color of title; nor was it intended that, in a proceeding to abate a fence erected in good faith, the legal validity of the defendant's title to the land should be put in issue. It is a sufficient defence to such a proceeding to show that the lands enclosed were not public lands of the United States, or that defendant had claim or color of title, made or acquired in good faith, or an asserted right thereto, by or under claim made in good faith, with a view to entry thereof at the proper land office under the general laws of the United States. As the question whether the lands enclosed by the defendant in this case were public lands of the United States depends upon the question whether he had claim or color of title to them, the two questions may be properly considered together."
Without doubt Reinhart and his predecessors were upon the lands for more than fifteen years; and it is admitted that prior to entry of the decree of the Court of Private Land Claims in 1903 their occupancy was under color of title and in good faith. We cannot conclude that further occupancy by those then in possession under bona fide claims or their vendees was rendered unlawfulcriminal indeed-by the Act of 1885. They were not mere
naked trespassers dishonestly seeking to appropriate public property, and they did not belong to that class of offenders intended to be hit by the act. Their claim deserved consideration as plainly appears from the circumstances above narrated. This is further shown by "An Act to Quiet Title to Certain Land in Dona Ana County, New Mexico," approved February 3, 1911, 36 Stat. 896, through which Congress granted them the right to make entries of and receive patents to lands in their possession and empowered the General Land Office to assist them at public expense in making proofs necessary to that end.
MISSOURI PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY v. McGREW COAL COMPANY.1
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI.
No. 222. Argued April 26, 1917.—Decided May 21, 1917.
The court is not called upon to consider state statutes passed for the enforcement of a provision in the state constitution, when the latter as construed and applied in the case by the state supreme court is self-executing and covers the judgment in question. As applied to a company engaged in both interstate and intrastate traffic, a state regulation, in respect of the latter only, which forbids any railroad company in general terms from charging more for a shorter haul than for a longer haul for the same class of freight over
1 No. 223. Missouri Pacific Railway Company v. McGrew et al., Executors of McGrew. Error to the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri. May 21, 1917. McReynolds, J. A stipulation of counsel for the respective parties that this cause abide the decision in case No. 222 having been filed, the judgment in this case is