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U.S. Supreme Court

Russell v. Maxwell Land Grant Co., 158 U.S. 253 (1895)

Russell v. Maxwell Land Grant Company

No. 321

Submitted April 29, 1895

Decided May 20, 1895

158 U.S. 253


A survey made by the proper officers of the United States and confirmed by the Land Department is not open to challenge by any collateral attack in the courts.

On May 19, 1888, the defendant in error, as plaintiff, commenced this action in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Colorado to recover the possession of a certain

Page 158 U. S. 254

tract of land. After answer, the case came on for final trial on October 10, 1890. The verdict and judgment were in favor of the plaintiff, and the defendants allege error.

The facts disclosed by the testimony are substantially these: on May 19, 1879, a patent was issued by the United States to Charles Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda, their heirs and assigns, for a tract of land known as the "Maxwell Land Grant." This patent recites that on January 11, 1841, the territorial governor of New Mexico (that being at the time a part of the Republic of Mexico) made a grant to Beaubien and Miranda of a tract of land with specified boundaries; that on June 21, 1860, Congress passed an act confirming such grant, with the boundaries therein specified; that on December 16, 1878, the Surveyor General of the United States for the Territory of New Mexico returned to the Land Department at Washington a survey officially made, giving in detail the boundaries as established by that survey, and in terms "grants to tract of land embraced and described in the foregoing survey." The land in controversy is within the limits of the survey, and thus within the terms of the patent. In 1871, the regular surveys of public lands in the southern part of Colorado were extended so as to include this land, which, by those surveys, was marked and described as the west half of the southeast quarter, and the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter, and the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section 20, township 33 south, range 68 west of sixth principal meridian. On April 6, 1874, Richard D. Russell, the ancestor of defendants, applied at the local land office to enter this tract under the homestead laws, and on September 5, 1876, proved up, and received his final receipt therefor.

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