BROWN V. SPILMAN, 155 U. S. 665 (1895)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Brown v. Spilman, 155 U.S. 665 (1895)

Brown v. Spilman

No. 92

Submitted November 23, 1894

Decided January 1, 1895

155 U.S. 665


A grant in a lease of forty acres of land, described by metes and bounds, for the sole and only purpose of boring, mining, and excavating for petroleum or carbon oil and gas and piping of oil and gas over all the tract excepting reserved therefrom ten acres, also described by metes and bounds, upon which no well shall be drilled without the consent of the lessor, is a grant of all the gas and oil under the entire tract, conditioned that the lessee shall not drill wells on the ten-acre plat without the consent of the lessor.

John F. Taylor, July 29, 1889, leased a tract of land containing forty acres, in Grant Township, Pleasants County, West Virginia, to Joseph S. Brown for the purpose of boring and mining for oil and gas, by a deed of that date, which was, on August 3, 1889, duly recorded in the clerk's office of Pleasants County. Brown took possession under this lease and proceeded to exercise possession therein conferred.

On the 30th day of June, 1890, John F. Taylor and his wife, by their deed of that date, sold and conveyed the same tract of land to B. D. Spilman and W. N. Chancellor, subject to the lease to Brown, which lease is described in the deed as being a lease of thirty acres of said tract of land for oil and gas purposes.

On the 9th day of July, 1890, Spilman and Chancellor filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of West Virginia a bill of complaint against Joseph S. Brown wherein they set up their ownership of the said tract of land, containing forty acres, conveyed to them by Taylor and wife, and complain that Brown, without right, was asserting a claim and title to the oil and gas in certain ten acres of said land, and was threatening to interfere with the right and possession of the plaintiffs in drilling oil wells and operating on said ten acres of land, and they charge that the claim of Brown

Page 155 U. S. 666

created a cloud upon their title to the ten acres, and ask for an injunction and equitable relief. As exhibits, copies of the lease to Brown and of the deed to Spilman and Chancellor were annexed to the bill.

Brown, on July 18, 1890, filed an answer to the bill asserting his right to possession of the entire tract of forty acres for oil and gas purposes and denying that the complainants had, under their deed from Taylor, any right to bore for oil on the said ten acres or to exclude him therefrom. On the same day he filed a cross-bill against Spilman and Chancellor in which, after narrating the contents of the lease and of the deed as he claimed them to be, he asked that Spilman and Chancellor should be enjoined from boring or mining for oil and gas on the said ten acres, and from interfering with his rights in the same.

To this cross-bill Spilman and Chancellor filed a general demurrer, and on August 25, 1890, by agreement of counsel, the case was set down for hearing upon the bill and exhibits and answer and replication to said answer to the original bill and upon the cross-bill and demurrer thereto.

On February 10, 1891, the court entered a final decree and filed opinion, reported in 45 F.2d 1, sustaining the original bill and enjoining Brown and all persons acting under him from entering into or upon said ten acres of land and from instituting any action or suit against the plaintiffs in respect to the said ten acres, and from interfering with or interrupting the plaintiffs in their use of the ten acres for any purpose. By the decree, the demurrer to the cross-bill was sustained and the cross-bill dismissed with costs.

From this decree an appeal was taken to this Court.

Page 155 U. S. 667

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