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U.S. Supreme Court

Morris v. Lessee of Harmer's Heirs, 32 U.S. 7 Pet. 554 554 (1833)

Morris v. Lessee of Harmer's Heirs

32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 554


Ejectment for a lot of ground in the City of Cincinnati.

A question as to the admission of the evidence of the declaration of a deceased person as to boundary.

Historical facts of general and public notoriety may be proved by reputation, and that reputation may be established by historical works of known character and accuracy. But evidence of this sort is confined in a great measure to ancient facts which do not presuppose better evidence in existence and where, from the nature of the transaction or the remoteness of the period or the public and general reception of the facts, a just foundation is laid for general confidence.

The work of a living author who is within the reach of the process of the court can hardly be deemed of this nature. He may be called as a witness; he may be examined as to the sources and accuracy of his information; and especially if the facts which he relates are of a recent date, and may be fairly presumed to be within the knowledge of many living persons from whom he has derived his materials, there would seem to be cogent reasons to say that his book was not, under such circumstances, the best evidence within the reach of the parties.

Special circumstances which were considered as exempting the evidence contained in a book called the "Picture of Cincinnati," of the date of the survey of the city and laying out lots in part of the same, from the common rule, which justified its admission.

The plat of the lots in the City of Cincinnati which had been recorded, and on which the streets and alleys in the same were designated, and which had been generally recognized and used in the surveys of the lots laid down in the same, was properly admitted in evidence.

The legal title to lands in Ohio can only be passed by a proper conveyance by deed according to the laws of the state.

This was an action of ejectment prosecuted by Eliza Harmer, Josiah Harmer, and William Harmer, children and heirs-at-law of Josiah Harmer, deceased, against George Morris and David Gwynne, to recover possession of a part of a town lot in the City of Cincinnati.

On the trial of the cause, the defendants excepted to the admission of certain evidence and to the instructions given by the court to the jury upon matters of law.

Page 32 U. S. 555

To reverse the judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, they prosecuted this writ of error.

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