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Dibble v. Bellingham Bay Land Company


Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

163 U.S. 63

Dibble  v.  Bellingham Bay Land Company

This was a complaint filed by the Bellingham Bay Land Company against Carmi Dibble in the superior court of Whatcom county, Wash., on June 7, 1891, seeking a decree quieting plaintiff's title to certain lands therein described, and establishing the existence a d validity of a certain power of attorney, alleged to have been lost without having been recorded. Defendant disclaimed as to the west half of the property in question, and, after demurrer overruled to an amended complaint, answered by way of denial, and assertion of defendant's claim set out in the complaint, and also by way of cross complaint. A trial was had on issues joined, and the superior court filed findings of fact and conclusions of law.

The court found that plaintiff was a corporation duly organized and existing under the laws of the state of Washington, with full powers to purchase, own, and sell real estate; that on or prior to March 28, 1862, Thomas Jones and Betsy Jones, his wife, were the owners of a certain donation land claim situated in the county of Whatcom, and territory of Washington, as particularly described; that these lands were donated to Thomas Jones and his wife under the donation laws of the United States, and that by virtue of the division which was made of them by the surveyor general, and by the certificate and patent, the west half of the lands was donated to Thomas Jones, and the east half to Betsy Jones, his wife. The court further found that on March 28, 1862, for a valuable consideration paid therefor, Thomas Jones, for himself and as attorney in fact for his wife, executed good and sufficient deeds of conveyance for all the tract of land to Edward Eldridge, and that, since that date, Eldridge had duly conveyed the premises to plaintiff, a small parcel excepted; that prior to the execution of the deed by Jones for himself and his wife, Betsy Jones had duly executed and delivered her power of attorney to Thomas, authorizing him to sell and convey the lands; that the power of attorney was executed under the seal of said Betsy, and was duly acknowledged and witnessed, and properly certified, but that the same was not placed on the records of the county, but became, and still remained, lost, and, at the date of the execution of the deed, had not been revoked. The court then described the parcel conveyed by Eldridge to other parties than plaintiff.

The court further found that 'on the said 28th day of March, 1862, the said Eldridge entered into possession of all of the said donation claim of Thomas Jones and Betsy Jones, and that from that date to the present time the said Edward Eldridge and his grantees, including the plaintiff in this case, have been continuously, and now are, in the actual, open, notorious, and adverse possession of all of the said property, under claim and color of title, excepting only the small parcels hereinbefore referred to as having been conveyed to other persons by the said Edward Eldridge'; 'that neither the defendant, nor his grantors, ancestors, or predecessors, had been seised or possessed of the said premises, or any part or parcel thereof, at any time since the said 28th day of March, 1862, and that the defendant is not now in possession of the said land'; that defendant claimed to be the owner of the premises, and to have procured deeds for the land from persons claiming to be the heirs of Betsy Jones, and had caused these deeds to be recorded in Whatcom county, and had created a cloud upon plaintiff's title; that there was not sufficient evidence to establish the fact that Betsy Jones died intestate, or that the persons under whom defendant claimed (Lovatt and others) were the heirs at law of Betsy Jones; that, at the time when defendant claimed to have purchased the property from these alleged heirs, he had full notice and knowledge of the conveyance previously made by Thomas Jones for himself and his wife, and that he had notice of the existence of the power of attorney under which Jones conveyed as attorney in fact for his wife, and had notice that plaintiff was in possession of the premises, claiming to be owner under the Jones deed; and 'that it and its immediate grantors had been in the possession of the said premises for more than ten years last past.'

The superior court found, as conclusio § of law, that plaintiff was entitled to the relief prayed (including, among other things, the establishment of 'the existence and validity of the said power of attorney'), and entered a decree that plaintiff was the owner and in possession, and entitled to the possession, of the land in question, excepting the enumerated parcel; that defendant was not the owner of the premises, or any part or parcel thereof; and that the cloud created upon the title of the property by the deeds to defendant from Lovatt and others be removed, and plaintiff's title be quieted against all claims of defendant; and 'that the said power of attorney from the said Betsy Jones to Thomas Jones, her husband, be, and the same is hereby, established'; and for costs.

The cause was then taken on appeal to the supreme court of the state, and the decree below affirmed. 4 Wash. 764, 31 Pac. 30. Of the four judges of the supreme court who participated in the decision, all concurred in the judgment, and three, including the chief justice, in the opinion. Thereafter the chief justice signed a certificate, and this writ of error was brought.

Alfred L. Black, for plaintiff in error.

J. A. Kerr, for defendant in error.

Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

NotesEdit

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).