Litchfield v. The Register and Receiver
APPEAL from the Circuit Court for the District of Iowa.
Litchfield field his bill in the court below against Richards, Register, and Pomeroy, Receiver of the United States Land Office at Fort Dodge, Iowa, asking an injunction to restrain them from entertaining and acting upon applications made to them to prove pre-emptions to certain lands which lay within the land district for which they were respectively register and receiver. The bill, which was very full, recited the various acts of Congress and of the State of Iowa, by which the complainant maintained that a large list of tracts of land, supposed to belong to an original grant to the Territory of Iowa for the purpose of improving the navigation of the Des Moines River, became his property. The history of that grant has been recently the subject of report in these volumes in several cases, and it is unnecessary to repeat it. It is sufficient to say that the bill giving that version of the matter which was favorable to the title of the complainant, averred that he was the legal owner of the lands; that they were not public lands, and were in no manner subject to sale or pre-emption by the government, or its officers. The defendant demurred, and the bill was dismissed for want of equitable jurisdiction. Whereupon the complainant appealed.
Mr. Litchfield, the complainant, insisted that the facts as stated in the bill must be taken as confessed by the demurrer, and that they showed that the land officers were exceeding their authority, and would give certificates of pre-emption and entry, which would cloud and embarrass his title, and that they should, therefore, be restrained.
Mr. Kelsey, contra.
Mr. Justice MILLER delivered the opinion of the court.