26 Mich. 73 (Mich. 1872), Adams Mining Co. v. Senter

Citation:26 Mich. 73
Opinion Judge:Campbell, J.:
Party Name:The Adams Mining Company v. John Senter
Attorney:Ball & Chandler and A. Russell, for plaintiff in error. Hubbell & Chadbourne, J. G. Sutherland and G. V. N. Lothrop, for defendant in error.
Case Date:October 29, 1872
Court:Supreme Court of Michigan

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26 Mich. 73 (Mich. 1872)

The Adams Mining Company


John Senter

Supreme Court of Michigan

October 29, 1872

Heard October 23, 1872

Error to Houghton circuit.

Judgment affirmed, with costs.

Ball & Chandler and A. Russell, for plaintiff in error.

Hubbell & Chadbourne, J. G. Sutherland and G. V. N. Lothrop, for defendant in error.


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Campbell, J.:

Plaintiffs sued defendant for taking timber alleged to be their property. He claimed title as having purchased it from William Frue, the agent of the plaintiffs, and also of the South Pewabic Company, to apply in payment upon a bill of mining powder and fuse, which was due him from the latter company.

There is no dispute about the important facts in the case, which were in substance, as far so essential to the exceptions alleged in the cause, as follows:

Both companies were organized mining companies at

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Portage Lake, in the Upper Peninsula, mainly owned by the same parties in interest, and employing the same general agent, Captain Frue. In the spring of 1870, and for some months previous, work had been suspended on the Adams mine, to await developments on the same lode in the South Pewabic. The supplies of both companies were kept together, and Frue was authorized to use the Adams supplies for the other company in his discretion, debiting them, when wanted, to the South Pewabic. The Adams company had on hand the timber in question--about twenty-six thousand feet--a year or more before the transactions in controversy, and Frue had been directed in 1868 to dispose of it if he could. There was some dispute as to the precise character of his instructions at that time. The timber was not wanted for any purpose of the Adams mine. In the spring of 1870, the South Pewabic was short of powder and fuse, and had run up an unpaid bill with Senter of about five thousand dollars, and, unless it was arranged, he was unwilling to furnish any more. Frue proposed to him, and it was finally agreed, that he should take this lumber at seventeen cents a foot. The bargain was closed, and a new account was afterwards opened for the desired articles, which was not paid up before the company failed, or stopped operations, and is still unpaid.

Frue put the timber in charge of one Ames to take charge of it for the South Pewabic Company. The timber was in rafts, and moored at the premises of the South Pewabic. He afterwards was directed to take charge of it for Mr. Senter, and was employed by mutual consent to measure it. He removed it for defendant to the other side of the lake, Mr. Ball, claiming to act for plaintiffs, objecting, and claiming it to be their property.

The jury found for the defendant.

The questions presented can be best disposed of by

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combining such of them as are not distinct. Much of the controversy turns on the powers of Captain Frue, the mining agent. Both companies had their principal offices in Boston, and Elisha T. Loring, of Boston, was president of both, and Charles H. Palmer, of Pontiac, the only Michigan director in either company.

It was claimed that these corporations had no power to buy or deal in timber, and that, for this reason there could be no agency in Frue to do what could not be done by his principals. But this is not to be supposed. It appears this timber was originally designed for use by the Adams Company, and whether it had been so designed or not, we are bound to know that in mining operations, as well as in the auxiliary work connected with them, timber is indispensable for some purposes, and capable of use for many. It would require a very plain case to justify a court in holding, as a legal proposition, that any such corporation might not become lawfully possessed of such property, and we cannot, in advance, and without some manifest necessity, assume that such cases are to be found.

The next question refers to the extent of Frue's authority, independent of specific and expressly granted powers. We are not satisfied that any testimony would be needed to show the extent of the ordinary powers of an agent in charge of such a mine. The authority of such officers must, within the usual range of business, at least, be recognized judicially, like that of bank cashiers, vessel captains, and other known agents. The mining law recognizes agents by name, as known representatives on whom process may be served. They are the persons...

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