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U.S. Supreme Court

Chinoweth v. Lessee of Haskell, 28 U.S. 3 Pet. 92 92 (1830)

Chinoweth v. Lessee of Haskell

28 U.S. (3 Pet.) 92


The defendant in the court below having withdrawn his cause from the jury by a demurrer to evidence, or having submitted to a verdict for the plaintiff subject to the demurrer, cannot hope for a judgment in his favor if by any fair construction of the evidence the verdict can be sustained.

It is an obvious principle that a grant must describe the land to be conveyed, and that the subject granted must be identified by the description given of it in the instrument itself. The description of the land consists of the courses and distances run by the surveyor and of the marked trees at the lines and corners, or other natural objects which ascertain the very land which was actually surveyed.

If a grant be made which describes the land granted by course and distance only, or by natural objects not distinguishable from others of the same kind, course and distance though not safe guides, are the only guides given, and must be used.

The line which forms the western boundary of the land intended to be granted was never run or marked. In his office, the surveyor assumed a course and distance and terminates the line at two small chestnut oaks. But where are we to look for those two small chestnut oaks in a wilderness in which one man takes up 50,000 acres and another 100,000? or how are we to distinguish them from other chestnut oaks? The guide, and the only guide given us by the surveyor or by the grant, is the course and distance.

It is admitted that the course and distance called for in a grant may be controlled and corrected by other objects of description which show that the survey actually covered other ground than the lines of the grant would comprehend.

Page 28 U. S. 93

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