HANRICK V. BARTON, 83 U. S. 166 (1872)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hanrick v. Barton, 83 U.S. 16 Wall. 166 166 (1872)

Hanrick v. Barton

83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 166


1. In Texas titles, before the adoption of the common law, a title of possession issued to an attorney in fact of the original grantee for the latter's use vested the title in such grantee, and not in the attorney.

2. The original grant by the government was regarded as the foundation of the title, and the extension of that title upon specific lands, if made for the benefit of the original grantee, vested title in him.

3. The papers of the original title, from the government grant to the title of possession (called the espediente), properly belong to the archives of the General Land Office, and include a power of attorney from the grantee to obtain the possessory title.

4. Certified copies of such papers from the General Land Office are admissible in evidence, and are then evidence for all purposes for which the originals could be adduced.

5. Under the Mexican-Spanish law formerly prevailing in Texas, a power of attorney to sell and convey land was properly executed by the attorney in his own name, specifying that he executed the deed as attorney for his principal.

6. In order to render a certified copy of a deed admissible in evidence in Texas, it must be filed with the papers in the cause at least three days before the commencement of the trial; but the affidavit of loss of the original deed need not be filed until the trial.

Edward Hanrick, a citizen of Alabama, in December, 1860, brought two actions of trespass to try title, in the nature of actions of ejectment, in the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Texas, for the recovery

Page 83 U. S. 167

of eleven leagues of land in Falls County in that state alleged to have been granted by the proper officers of the State of Coahuila and Texas to one Atanacio de la Serda and claimed by the plaintiff as owner in fee. The original plaintiff having died, the present plaintiff was admitted to prosecute the action as his administrator and only heir.

The defendants pleaded:

1st. The general issue;

2d. Title under one Thomas J. Chambers; and

3d. The statutes of limitation of three and ten years.

A jury being waived, the two causes were consolidated and tried by the court as one cause in July, 1870, and the court found and decided that the plaintiff had failed to make out legal title to the land in controversy in Edward Hanrick, and gave judgment for the defendants without passing upon the issues raised on the statutes of limitation. The case was brought here by the plaintiff upon certain bills of exception taken during the trial of the cause, showing rulings of the court adverse to the plaintiff, which were material to the result, and which, he alleged, were erroneous.

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