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United States Supreme Court

81 U.S. 472

Dolton  v.  Cain

ERROR to the Circuit Court for the Southern District of Illinois; the case being this:

Certain statutes of limitation in Illinois, [1] declare in substance that whoever has resided on a tract of land for a term of seven successive years, prior to the commencement of an action of ejectment, 'having a connected title in law or equity deducible of record from the State or the United States,' can plead the possession in bar of suit to dispossess him.

These provisions of limitation being in force, Dolton sued Cain, A.D. 1865, in ejectment, to recover a piece of land in the State just named.

The plaintiff showed as title,

1st. A patent, A.D. 1818, from the United States to one Stephenson for the land.

2d. A deed, A.D. 1820, from Stephenson to one McGuire.

3d. A deed, A.D. 1823, from McGuire 'to Auguste Thiriat, in trust for Ren e Marie Ferdinand Jacquemart' (a resident of France), the habendum clause being thus:

'To have and to hold the said premises with the appurtenances unto the said party of the second part, and his heirs and assigns forever.'

4th. The death of Thiriat in 1845, and of Jacquemart in 1848; no more particular dates being shown.

5th. Conveyance, A.D. 1864, by the heirs of both Thiriat and Jacquemart, to Dolton (the plaintiff).

Title in Jacquemart having been, as above stated, shown by the plaintiff, the defendant relied on:

1st. August 10th, 1847, a power of attorney, 'each one for themselves,' from Ren e Marie Ferdinand Jacquemart and wife, to F. R. Tillon and W. L. Cutting, with power of substitution, authorizing them to sell any lands in Illinois 'which Mr. and Madame Jacquemart at present own; and in which the said constituents have interests, of any kind soever to be protected,' and 'to sign the contracts of sale in the respective names of the constituents.'

2d. September 20th, 1847. A substitution by Tillon and Cutting of one Cockle, to their power to sell, &c.

3d. Proof that on the 29th July, 1848, Cockle as attorney for Jacquemart and wife, sold the land to Cain, the defendant, for $300; of which $100 was to be paid down, and the residue secured by three notes, one for $68, at one year, and two for $66 at two and three years respectively; that the $100 was paid and the three notes given; that contemporaneous with the sale, he, Cockle, professing to act as attorney of Jean Ferdinand Jacquemart (the name of Jean instead of Ren e Marie, having as Cockle himself testified, been signed 'by inadvertence and mistake,' and 'the intention having been to execute the instrument in Jacquemart's true name,') executed and gave to Cain a bond for $600, reciting the sale and the terms of it, and conditioned that if Cain paid the notes on the days specified for their payment, and Jacquemart should upon such full payment of the purchase-money execute and deliver to Cain a warranty deed with the usual covenants, then the bond should be void; that the sale was reported within a month to Tillon and Cutting, who approved it; that the first and second notes were paid as they came due, and with the $100 cash were devoted by Cockle to the paying of taxes on other lands of Jacquemart; that Cain offered payment of the third note at its maturity, but that Cockle refused to receive it, replying to Cain's offer to pay it, that it was rumored that Jacquemart was dead; that Cain had always been ready and willing to pay the note which from the cause mentioned was remaining unpaid, but that he did not know who was entitled to receive the money.

4th. Proof that the defendant took possession of the land very soon after his purchase, and had occupied it continuously by himself or his tenants from that time till the time of the suit brought (A.D. 1865), and for seventeen years had paid taxes on it.

On the facts thus proved, the court below decided that the possession of Cain was protected by the limitation laws of Illinois, already in substance stated, and gave judgment accordingly. From this judgment the plaintiff sued out the present writ of error. The sole question in the case was, whether the defendant, Cain, was within the protection of these laws.

Mr. B. C. Cook, for the plaintiff in error:

Cain had no connected title deducible of record, either in law or equity, to the premises in question. The title must be connected; it must be deducible of record. Cain in fact has no title in equity at all; though he may have had interest in equity. No title in equity could have arisen until he had paid all his notes, for not till then could he have come into chancery and demanded a conveyance. He held, in short, but that inchoate interest which might or might not ripen into an equitable title. Reference by the court to decisions of the Supreme Court of Illinois, [2] will show that no other view can be taken consistently with them.

Further. All the claim that Jacquemart had to the land arose from McGuire's deed to Thiriat. That deed conveys to Thiriat, in trust for Jacquemart indeed, but with a Habendum whose effect was obviously to give the estate to Thiriat alone. [3]

Then these lands, if Jacquemart's at all, were Jacquemart's alone. His wife did not have any ownership in them. The bond was executed by him alone if by anybody. But the power of attorney does not authorize the sale of the lands of either Mr. or Madame Jacquemart alone, but only the lands owned by them jointly. [4]

Finally, Ren e Marie is quite a different name from Jean.

Mr. Jackson Grimshaw, contra.

Mr. Justice DAVIS delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  Revised Statutes of 1845, § 8, chapter 24; Id. §§ 8 and 11, chapter 66.

^2  Steele v. Magie, 48 Illinois, 397; Stow v. Steel, 45 Id., 328; Nicoll v. Ogden, 29 Id. 377.

^3  Brown v. Combs, 5 Dutcher, 36.

^4  Dodge v. Hopkins, 14 Wisconsin, 630.

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).