Winona & St. Peter Railroad Company v. United States
This was a bill filed by the United States in the circuit court of the United States for the district of Minnesota against the Winona & St. Peter Railroad Company, the Winona & St. Peter Land Company, and Thomas Marshall, Jr. The suit was one to set aside the certification of a patent made to the state of Minnesota for the benefit of the defendant railroad company of the N. E. 1/4 of section 35, township 106 N., range 18 W., which certification was of date December 1, 1862. After answers, proof, and an agreed statement as to certain facts, a decree was entered by the circuit court, August 29, 1894, dismissing the bill. On appeal to the court of appeals for the Eighth circuit this decree was, on May 6, 1895, reversed (32 U.S. App. 306, 15 C. C. A. 117, and 67 Fed. 969), and the case remanded, with instructions to enter a decree granting the relief prayed for.
It appears from the agreed statement that on July 3, 1857, Thomas Marshall, Jr., one of the defendants, made a pre-emption filing at the proper local land office of the land in controversy, which filing was prima facie regular and valid, and was never canceled on the records of the land office. The construction of the railroad of the defendant railroad company was conceded; and it was agreed that on the 1st of March, 1877, defendant Marshall, being still in possession, and claiming to be the owner thereof, the defendant land company, which had a conveyance from the railroad company, commenced an action of ejectment against him in the district court of Dodge county, Minn., that court having jurisdiction of the subjectmatter; that Marshall appeared in such action, and such proceedings were had that on the 9th day of December, 1878, the court rendered judgment in favor of the plaintiff for the possession of the land; that no appeal was taken from such judgment, and that the same now remains in full force and effect; and that in pursuance thereof said Marshall surrendered possession to the defendant land company, and since that time the defendant land company has remained in possession, and paid the taxes; that Marshall, on November 15, 1887, filed with the commissioner of the general land office, and now has pending before the land department, an application for reinstatement of his rights to said land, which application has not been acted upon, as it is held by the said department that it has no jurisdiction to pass thereon. Other facts are agreed to such as are stated in the opinion in the case No. 321, of U.S. v. Railroad Co. (just decided) 17 Sup. Ct. 368.
J. A. Tawney, for appellants.
Sol. Gen. Conrad, for the United States.
Mr. Justice BREWER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.