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United States Supreme Court

121 U.S. 201

McConihay  v.  Wright

The complainant in this case, Theodore Wright, the appellee, a citizen of the state of Pennsylvania, filed his bill in equity September 24, 1881, against the appellants, citizens of the state of West Virginia, the object and prayer of which were to quiet his title to certain real estate described therein. The title of the complainant to the premises in controversy is derived from the Winifrede Mining & Manufacturing Company, a corporation of the state of West Virginia. That company was chartered by a special act of the legislature of Virginia, February 16, 1850, and made a body politic, 'for the purpose of exploring, digging, mining, raising, and transporting coal and other minerals and substances, and for manufacturing mineral, vegetable, and other articles, in and from the counties of Kanawha and Boone, and such other counties as may hereafter be created out of parts of said counties.'

The third section of its charter is as follows: 'That it shall and may be lawful for the said company to erect and construct a slack-water navigation from some convenient point on Kanawha or Coal rivers, contiguous to their said lands, and along the bed of the said Coal river to the Great Kanawha: provided, however, that nothing in this act contained shall be so construed as to prevent the said rivers from being and remaining public highways free for the navigation of all the citizens of this commonwealth; and also to construct such railroad or railroads from any point on their said lands to the Great Kanawha river, or any other navigable stream in the valley of the Kanawha river and its branches, or to connect with any other railroad or improvement which is now or may hereafter be authorized by the state of Virginia in the said valley of the Kanawha and its branches; and, to enable the said company to carry out the provisions in this section contained, they are hereby invested with all the rights, powers, and privileges, and subjected to all the limitations and restrictions, contained in an act entitled 'An act prescribing certain general regulations for the incorporation of railroad companies,' passed March 11, 1837, so far as the same are applicable to and not inconsistent with the provisions of this act.'

By the second section of the charter the company was authorized to purchase and hold lands, not exceeding 10,000 acres at any one time, in the said counties of Kanawha and Boone, or in any new counties that had been or might thereafter be formed and created out of parts of said counties.

In pursuance of the authority given by its charter the Winifrede Mining & Manufacturing Company of Virginia, on the eighth of January, 1853, acquired by deed a title in fee-simple to a tract of land containing about 10,000 acres. John McConihay owned land between this tract and the Kanawha river. For the purpose of acquiring a right of way for a railroad, and a depot on the banks of the Kanawha river, in order to transport its coal, the Winifrede Company, by judicial proceedings, appropriated a tract through the lands of McConihay, being a narrow strip four or five miles long, connecting its tract of coal land with the bank of the river. That strip, appropriated in that way and for that purpose, is the subject of the controversy in this suit. A demurrer interposed by the defendants was overruled, and the case was heard finally upon bill, answer, replication, and proofs. A decree was rendered in favor of the complainant, from which the defendants prosecute the present appeal.

J. F. Brown, for appellants.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 203-205 intentionally omitted]

R. C. McMurtrie and Edwd. B. Knight, for appellee.

MATTHEWS, J.

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).