HOLTZMAN V. DOUGLAS, 168 U. S. 278 (1897)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Holtzman v. Douglas, 168 U.S. 278 (1897)

Holtzman v. Douglas

No. 80

Argued November 1, 1897

Decided November 29, 1897

168 U.S. 278


This was an action of ejectment. The plaintiff claimed under one Hall, former owner of the land. The defendants claimed under one Douglas, who bought it at a tax sale in 1865. The defendants set up adverse possession in defense. The court instructed the jury that to defeat the claim of the plaintiff's upon the defense of adverse possession, the jury must find from the evidence that the defendants, in person or by their tenants, have for more than twenty years prior to the 31st day of May, 1889, held actual, exclusive, continuous, open, notorious and adverse possession of the said premises, and they cannot extend their possession

Page 168 U. S. 279

by tacking it to the prior possession of any person who, during such prior possession, did not claim any title or right to the premises; and, on the request of the defendants, that

"if the jury find from the evidence that William Douglas, the ancestor of the defendants, bought at a tax sale held by the late corporation of Washington, so-called, the property in controversy in this case and paid the price bid for it by him at such sale and received from the corporation of Washington a deed to said property, which was by him duly filed for record and recorded in the land records of the District of Columbia more than twenty years prior to the commencement of this suit; that thereupon the said property was assessed to the said William Douglas on the tax books of the City of Washington, and the taxes thereon from that time until the beginning of this suit paid by the said William Douglas or his successors in title, the defendants in this case; that at a period of time more than twenty years before the commencement of this suit, the said property was rented on behalf of the defendants to a person who took the same and held possession thereof as tenant of the defendants for the purposes of a stone yard, paying rent therefor from the date of making such arrangements with the defendants, and that although the said property was not enclosed by a fence, yet the person so renting the same, either upon the whole or a part thereof, during his occupancy, deposited stone used by him in his business, and that such use and possession of said property was continued by the occupant thereof actually, exclusively, continuously, openly, notoriously, adversely and uninterruptedly for a period of twenty years next before the commencement of this suit, then the jury is instructed that the defendants are entitled to recover."

Held that the instructions as given were substantially correct, and there was evidence in the case upon which to found the one given at defendants' request.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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