RYAN V. RAILROAD COMPANY, 99 U. S. 382 (1878)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ryan v. Railroad Company, 99 U.S. 382 (1878)

Ryan v. Railroad Company

99 U.S. 382


1. An Act of Congress, 14 Stat. 239, granted to a railroad company, to aid in the construction of its road, every section of public land designated by odd numbers, to the amount of "twenty alternate sections per mile (ten on each side) of said railroad line," and provided that where any of said sections or parts of sections should be found to have been granted, sold, reserved, occupied by homestead settlers, preempted, or otherwise disposed of, the company should, in lieu thereof, select, under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, other lands nearest to the limits of said sections, and not more than ten miles beyond them. There being a deficiency of said sections to satisfy the grant, the company, with the approval of said Secretary, selected as part indemnity a quarter of an odd-numbered section of public land within ten miles beyond those limits, and obtained a patent therefor from the United States. When so selected, it was within a tract formerly covered by a Mexican claim, which, although sub judice at the date of the act, had been finally rejected as invalid. Held that the patent conveyed a perfect title to the company.

2. Newhall v. Sanger, 92 U. S. 761, cited and distinguished from this case.

This is a suit in equity brought by Ryan to enjoin and restrain the Central Pacific Railroad Company from relying upon or using as evidence a patent issued to it by the United States for a certain tract of land in California.

The company is successor to the California and Oregon Railroad Company, to which, in aid of the construction of a railroad, Congress granted land by an Act approved July 25, 1866, 14 Stat. 239, entitled "An Act granting lands to aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Central Pacific Railroad, in California, to Portland, in Oregon," the second section whereof is set out in the opinion of the Court.

Page 99 U. S. 383

The land in controversy is situated within the indemnity or ten-mile limits beyond the alternate sections first named in the act, and at its date was within the exterior boundaries of a certain Mexican claim known as the Manuel Diaz grant, which was finally rejected as invalid, March 3, 1873.

Oct. 30, 1874, the company finding that there were not sufficient odd-numbered sections within the limits of its grant, not otherwise granted, &c., to make the quantity to which it was entitled, made selection of the land in controversy, the same being then public land, and applied for a patent therefor, in all respects in the manner provided by said act. This selection was examined by the register and receiver of the proper land office, and it appearing to them that there were not sufficient alternate sections within the twenty-mile limits of the railroad grant, not otherwise granted, &c., to satisfy the grant, they, Dec. 26, 1874, approved the selection as indemnity for a portion of the lands so lost, and thereafter forwarded the same to the Commissioner of the General Land Office. The selection was thereupon approved by the Secretary of the Interior, and a patent was issued to the company, March 17, 1875.

Ryan being in all respects qualified to avail himself of the provisions of an act of Congress, entitled "An Act to secure homesteads to actual settlers on the public domain," approved May 20, 1862, 12 Stat. 392, filed an application, July 14, 1876, accompanied by his affidavit, as required by said act, in the proper land office, to be allowed to enter as a homestead the quarter-section so selected by, and patented to, the company; and he thereupon paid the lawful fees, and received a duplicate receipt from the register and receiver therefor. He subsequently built a house thereon, and, Nov. 4, 1876, moved with his family into said house, where he continued to reside until the commencement of this suit. He alleges that the said patent is held and asser*ted by the company in hostility to his title.

The court dismissed the bill, and Ryan appealed here.

Page 99 U. S. 385

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