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UNITED STATES v. MCLAUGHLIN.

decided: May 14, 1888.

UNITED STATES
v.
MCLAUGHLIN.



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA.

Author: Bradley

[ 127 U.S. Page 430]

 MR. JUSTICE BRADLEY delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a bill in equity filed by the Attorney General on behalf of the United States against The Central Pacific Railroad Company, Kate D. McLaughlin, as executrix of Charles McLaughlin, deceased, and others, to cancel and annul a certain patent of the United States, issued on the 23d day of November, 1875, to the Central Pacific Railroad Company from the General Land Office, for certain sections and fractional sections of land in San Joaquin and Calaveras counties in California. The ground of relief stated in the bill is, that

[ 127 U.S. Page 431]

     the patent was issued without authority of law, for the reason that all of said lands were within the boundaries of a certain Mexican grant claim, called the Moquelamos grant, and were held and reserved for adjustment and satisfaction of said claim at the time when the line of railroad belonging to said company was definitely fixed, and when, by virtue of that fact, the government grant on which the patent was based accrued. The patent was granted to the railroad company for the lands in question as portions of its land grant under the Pacific Railroad acts passed by Congress in 1862 and 1864. This grant was originally made to the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California; was assigned, at the place in question, by said company, to the Western Pacific Railroad Company on the 31st day of October, 1864, which assignment was approved by act of Congress of March 3d, 1865; and the two companies named were consolidated together and constituted the present Central Pacific Railroad Company in August, 1870, upon which last company devolved all the franchises, rights, privileges, and property of the said two first named companies.

The bill sets forth the alleged Mexican grant, called the Moquelamos grant, and the proceedings in relation thereto upon the claim made for its confirmation, before the Commissioners to ascertain and settle private land claims in California, and the District and Supreme Courts of the United States, resulting in the final rejection of said claim by the adjudication of the Supreme Court on the 13th of February, 1865. The bill also states that the lands included within the boundaries of said claim were held and reserved during said proceedings, to await final adjudication, until said last mentioned date; that said lands lie in the counties of San Joaquin and Calaveras, on each side of the road of the said railroad company between the cities of Sacramento and San Jose. It recites those parts of the acts of Congress passed in 1862 and 1864, which granted to the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California the right to construct a railroad and telegraph line from the Pacific Coast, at or near San Francisco, to the eastern boundary of the State; and states the fact that under and

[ 127 U.S. Page 432]

     by virtue of said acts there were granted, for the purpose of aiding in the construction of said road and telegraph line, ten alternate sections of the public lands on each side of and within twenty miles of the road, designated by odd numbers, not sold, reserved or otherwise disposed of by the United States, and to which a homestead or preemption claim might not have attached at the time the line of the road of said company should be definitely fixed.

The bill then alleges that on the 5th day of October, 1864, the line of said road from the city of Sacramento to its western terminus at the city of San Francisco, including that portion opposite to the Moquelamos grant, was definitely fixed, and a map of said definite location of said road was filed by the said Central Pacific Railroad Company of California with the Secretary of the Interior on the 8th of December, 1864; and that on the 31st of January, 1865, the Secretary of the Interior ordered all of the public lands not then sold, reserved or otherwise disposed of within the limits of twenty-five miles on each side of said road to be withdrawn from preemption, private entry and sale.

The bill then states the assignment on the 31st of October, 1864, by the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California to the Western Pacific Railroad Company of the right to construct the road from Sacramento to San Jose, with all privileges and benefits, etc., and the confirmation of said assignment by act of Congress, approved March 3d, 1865. It further states that notwithstanding the lands within the boundaries of the Moquelamos grant claim were held and reserved for the satisfaction of said claim from the acquisition of California until the final rejection of the claim on the 13th day of February, 1865, embracing the time when the line of said road was definitely fixed, yet the said patent was issued as aforesaid to the said Central Pacific Railroad Company, as the successor in interest of the Western Pacific Railroad Company, for the lands in question, which it is alleged were embraced within the boundaries of said Moquelamos grant claim.

The defendants, in their answer, deny that the line of the railroad from Sacramento to its western terminus was definitely

[ 127 U.S. Page 433]

     fixed in October, 1864, or at any time prior to 1868; or that a map of the definite location of the said line or of the portions thereof opposite the Moquelamos grant was filed with the Secretary of the Interior, or in the General Land Office, in December, 1864, or at any time prior to the first of February, 1870. They admit that on the 5th of October, 1864, the Central Pacific Railroad of California designated the general route of its said road between San Francisco and Sacramento; and on the 8th of December, 1864, filed a map of the general route of its said railroad in the Department of the Interior. They admit that the lands in question are within twenty miles of the railroad as definitely located and fixed.

They allege that the Western Pacific Railroad Company, in the year 1868, definitely and finally located and fixed that portion or section of the line and route of said railroad and telegraph extending from a point at or near the city of Stockton to a point at or near Sacramento, and, on the first of February, 1870, filed in the Department of the Interior a map of said portion or section of said line; and that after the consolidation and the formation of the present Central Pacific Railroad Company, to wit, on the 27th day of February, 1873, the said company filed in the Department of the Interior a map of the line and route of said railroad as definitely and finally located and fixed from the end of the first twenty-mile section from San Jose to a point at the end of the 133 16/100 miles from San Jose, at or near Sacramento; and that said line and route so definitely and finally located and fixed are opposite to the lands in question, and include the line or section definitely located by the Western Pacific, and shown on the map filed in February, 1870.

The defendants further allege that the lands in question were public lands, and were not reserved, or disposed of in any manner, at the time of the passage of the acts of July 1st, 1862, and July 2d, 1864, respectively, and at the time of filing the general route of the railroad in December, 1864, and of the withdrawal of the lands by the Secretary of the Interior in January, 1865, and of the definite and final location in 1868, and of filing the map of the road in February, 1870,

[ 127 U.S. Page 434]

     and the map in February, 1873. They deny that said lands were included in any Mexican grant, or that they were reserved or held under the laws of the United States for the satisfaction of any claim under such grant; and they aver that said lands, during all the times mentioned in the bill, up to and until the issuing of the patent, were public lands of the United States; that said patent was issued to said railroad company under and in accordance with the provisions of said Pacific Railroad acts, and was and is legal and valid; that on the 12th of January, 1876, the Central Pacific Railroad Company conveyed to Charles McLaughlin, in fee simple, the lands in question, for which he paid a full and adequate consideration. The defendants append schedules to their answer showing the particular parcels for which they severally defend. To this answer several exceptions were taken, and being overruled, the general replication was filed. Thereupon the parties joined in a written admission of certain facts agreed to be true, which, omitting those relating to the status of the parties and the organization of the corporations mentioned in the pleadings, is as follows, to wit:

"8. That on, to wit, the 22d day of September, A.D. 1852, one Andres Pico, since deceased, presented and filed his petition to and with the Board of Land Commissioners appointed under the provisions of the act of Congress approved March 3d, 1851, entitled 'An act to ascertain and settle private land claims in the State of California,' in which petition he claimed in fee, as a grant by the Mexican Government, a certain tract of land situated in the said State and district of California, and known by the name of 'Moquelamos,' for eleven square leagues of land, which he alleged in his petition was granted to him within the boundaries as described in the grant made June 6th, A.D. 1846, by Pio Pico, the then Mexican governor of California, by virtue of the authority in him vested; and said petition closed with a prayer to allow and confirm to him, the petitioner, Andres Pico, the said tract of land, as described in the grant made by the aforesaid governor, Pio Pico, with the boundaries as therein set forth, to wit; once sitios de ganado mayor en el rio de Moquelumnes que linda al

[ 127 U.S. Page 435]

     norte con la orilla sur de dicho rio; al oriente con la sierra immediata al sur con el terreno del Senor Gulnak; y al poniente con los esteros de la plaza; and the translation thereof presented to said board with said petition is as follows, to wit: 'Eleven square leagues on the river Moquelamos, bordering on the north upon the southern shore of said river; on the east upon the adjacent ridge of mountains; on the south upon the lands of Mr. Gulnak; and on the west upon the estuaries of the shore.' That said petition was in the usual form of petitions to the Board of Land Commissioners, for the confirmation of claims to land in California, founded upon grants made by the Mexican Government.

"9. That said Board of Land Commissioners proceeded to consider and determine the said petition and claim of the said Andres Pico, and on the 3d day of October, 1854, rendered a decree denying the application of said petitioner for a confirmation of his said grant of land, and rejecting his claim therefor.

"10.That afterwards, to wit, on the 11th day of June, 1855, the said claimant and petitioner, Andres Pico, appealed to and petitioned the United States District Court for the Northern District of California for a reversal of the proceedings and decision of the said Board of Land Commissioners, and prayed that the decree of rejection by said board be reversed, and that the petitioner's claim to the said tract of land above described be declared valid, and that a decree be entered confirming the same to the petitioner, Andres Pico, in accordance with said alleged grant to him by the Mexican Government, as aforesaid; and the said District Court thereupon proceeded to hear, consider, and review the said decision and decree of said Board of Land Commissioners and the petition of said Andres Pico, and at a state term of said court, held on the 24th day of April, 1857, made and entered a decree reversing the decree of rejection of said claim by the said Board of Land Commissioners, and adjudged and decreed that the claim of petitioner was valid, and confirmed the Moquelamos grant above described to the petitioner, Andres Pico, and defined the boundaries thereof as follows:

[ 127 U.S. Page 436]

     "The land of which confirmation is hereby made is of the extent of eleven square leagues, and no more, and is known by the name of 'Moquelamos,' and is situate on the river Moquelamos, bordering upon the north upon the southern shore of said river; on the east on the adjacent ridge of said mountains; on the south on the land of Mr. Gulnak, and upon the west upon the estuaries of the shore, as described in the original decree and grant of the same by the governor of California on the 6th day of June, 1846, a copy of which is on file in the transcript in this case."

"11. That thereafter the United States appealed from said decree of confirmation to the Supreme Court of the United States, and at the December term, 1859, of said court the aforesaid decree of confirmation of said District Court was, by the Supreme Court of the United States, reversed, and the case remanded, with directions to have further evidence taken in the cause and claim of said Andres Pico, for said Mexican grant Moquelamos. That thereafter the said District Court proceeded to take further evidence in said case, and after such further evidence was taken, the case was again brought before said District Court for hearing, and by that court a decree was entered on the 4th day of June, 1862, adjudging the claim of the petitioner to be invalid, and rejecting the same.

"12. That thereafter, on, to wit, the 15th day of October, 1862, the petitioner, Andres Pico, appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States from said decree of said District Court rejecting his claim as invalid. That a final hearing of said cause was had before said Supreme Court, and on the 13th day of February, A.D. 1865, a judgment was made and entered by said United States Supreme Court affirming said decree of the United States District Court, rejecting the claim of said Pico, and adjudging the same to be invalid.

"13. That all of the lands included within the boundaries of said alleged Moquelamos grant above described lie in said State and lie on each side of the road of said The Western Pacific Railroad Company, and opposite thereto in its course from said city of Sacramento to said city of San Jose.

"14. That under and by virtue of the act of Congress,

[ 127 U.S. Page 437]

     approved July 1, 1862, entitled, 'An act to aid in the construction of a railroad and telegraph line from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, and to secure to the government the use of the same for postal, military, and other purposes,' and the act amendatory thereof, approved July 2d, 1864, commonly known as the Pacific Railroad acts, The Central Pacific Railroad Company of California was authorized to construct a railroad and telegraph line from the Pacific Coast, at or near San Francisco, to the eastern boundary of said State of California, and under and by virtue of said acts of Congress there were granted for the purpose of aiding in the construction of the road and telegraph line of said The Central Pacific Railroad Company of California ten alternate sections of the public lands of the United States, on each side and within twenty miles of the road of said company, designated by odd numbers, not sold, reserved, or otherwise disposed of by the United States, and to which a homestead or preemption claim might not have attached at the time the line of the road of said company should be definitely fixed.

"15. That the said railroad company filed its assent to said Central Pacific Railroad acts at the time and in the manner in said acts provided.

"16. That on, to wit, the 23d day of December, 1864, the Secretary of the Interior of the United States ordered all of the public lands not then sold, reserved or otherwise disposed of, within the limits of twenty-five miles on each side of the route or line of the road of said railroad company, to be withdrawn from preemption, private entry, and sale in accordance with the provisions of said acts of Congress, for said railroad company; and said order was thereupon transmitted to the register and receiver of the United States land offices at Stockton, San Francisco, and Sacramento, State of California, and received by them on the 31st day of January, 1865.

"17. On the 29th day of September, 1866, the president of the Western Pacific Railroad Company made and filed with the United States Surveyor General of the State of California the varied statement provided for by § 4 of said act of July 1, 1862, and § 6 of said act of July 2, 1864, showing the construction,

[ 127 U.S. Page 438]

     completion, and equipment by said Western Pacific Railroad Company of the most westerly twenty miles, viz., the twenty miles next northeasterly from the city of San Jose, of the railroad and telegraph line of said Western Pacific Railroad Company, in compliance with and conformity to the requirements and provisions of said sections of said acts of Congress; and said Surveyor General thereupon, at the request of said railroad company, notified the commissioners designated and provided for by said acts to examine said twenty miles of said road and telegraph line and report thereon, in accordance with the provisions of said acts of Congress; and on the 5th day of October, 1866, said commissioners made their report and certificate to the effect that said twenty miles of road and telegraph line mentioned in said verified statement had been constructed, completed, and equipped by said railroad company, as provided and prescribed in and by said acts of Congress.

"Similar verified statements were made by the president of said Western Pacific Railroad Company as follows: On April 28, 1869, for a section of the road beginning at the junction thereof with the road of the Central Pacific Railroad Company of California, at the American River Bridge near Sacramento City, and extending thence southwesterly twenty (20) miles; also, on October 12, 1869, for a section of said road beginning at the westerly end of the last mentioned section, and extending thence southwesterly sixty-three (63) miles; also, on December 29, 1869, for a section of said road beginning at the westerly end of the last mentioned section, and extending thence twenty and two-tenths (20 2/10) miles to the easterly end of the first mentioned section, of twenty miles, beginning at San Jose.

"That all those statements were, upon their being made, filed with said Surveyor General, and he did forthwith, upon the filing of each statement respectively, and at the request of said company, notify said commissioners. That said commissioners did thereupon examine said sections of said road, and made their respective reports thereon, ...


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