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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. D'Auterieve, 56 U.S. 15 How. 14 14 (1853)

United States v. D'Auterieve

56 U.S. (15 How.) 14


The heirs of D'Auterieve claimed a tract of land near the River Mississippi, upon two grounds, viz., 1st, Under a grant to Duvernay by the Western or Mississippi Company in 1717, and a purchase from him by D'Auterieve, the ancestor, accompanied by the possession and occupation of the tract from 1717 to 1780, and 2d, under an order of survey of Unzaga, Governor of the Province of Louisiana in 1772, an actual survey made, and a confirmation thereof by the governor.

With respect to the first ground of title, there is no record of the grant to Duvernay nor any evidence of its extent. It is therefore without boundaries or location, and, if free from these objections, it would be a perfect title, and therefore not within the jurisdiction of the district court under the acts of 1824 and 1844.

With respect to the second ground of title, if the proceedings of Unzaga be regarded as a confirmation of the old French grant, then the title would become a complete one and beyond the jurisdiction of the district court.

If they are regarded as an incipient step in the derivation of a title under the Spanish government, then the survey did not extend to the back lands which are the property in question, but only included the front upon the river, which was surrendered to the governor in 1780.

Neither the upper or lower side line nor the field notes justify the opinion that the survey included the back lands. A letter addressed to Unzaga by the surveyor is so ambiguous that it must be controlled by the field notes and map.

The neglect of the parties to set up a claim from 1780 to 1821 and the acts of the Spanish government in granting concessions within the limits now claimed furnish a presumption of the belief of the parties that the whole property was surrendered in 1780.

The history of the claim is fully set forth in the opinion of the Court.

Page 56 U. S. 20

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