39 Mich. 323 (Mich. 1878), Long v. Mayor, Recorder and Aldermen of Battle Creek

Citation39 Mich. 323
Opinion JudgeMarston, J.
Party NameJames Long and Matthew Simpson, Executors v. Mayor, Recorder and Aldermen of Battle Creek
AttorneyJohn C. FitzGerald for plaintiffs in error. Arthur Brown for defendants in error.
Case DateOctober 15, 1878
CourtSupreme Court of Michigan

Page 323

39 Mich. 323 (Mich. 1878)

James Long and Matthew Simpson, Executors


Mayor, Recorder and Aldermen of Battle Creek

Supreme Court of Michigan

October 15, 1878

Submitted June 20, 1878

Page 324

Error to Calhoun.

Judgment on appeal fro commissioners in probate. Appellants bring error.

Judgment affirmed with costs.

John C. FitzGerald for plaintiffs in error. Oral evidence tending to show an alteration in a contract is inadmissible, Powers' Appeal, 29 Mich. 509; Moser v. White, id., 60; Seibrecht v. New Orleans, 12 La. Ann., 496; the proceedings of a common council are presumed to be shown by their records, which oral evidence cannot supplement, Stevenson v. Bay City, 26 Mich. 46; Hall v. People, 21 Mich. 461; a common council cannot extend a street without first declaring the extension a necessary public improvement, Sess. Laws 1859, p. 63, §§ 17, 18; Hoyt v. East Saginaw, 19 Mich. 39; McComb v. Bell, 2 Minn. 295; the contracts of a common council are invalid unless for municipal and not private purposes, Thomas v. Port Huron, 27 Mich. 323; People v. Salem, 20 Mich. 470; Sharpless v. Mayor, 21 Penn. St., 168; Brodhead v. Milwaukee, 19 Wis. 624; Colton v. Hanchett, 13 Ill. 615; Clark v. Des Moines, 19 Ia. 199; Hodges v. Buffalo, 2 Den. 112; Donovan v. Mayor, 33 N. Y., 291; Livingston County v. Weider, 64 Ill. 427; Randolph County v. Jones, 1 Ill. 237; a promise of a reward for doing one's duty is illegal and void, Addison on Contracts, § 253; Mills v. Mills, 40 N. Y., 545; Fuller v. Dame, 18 Pick. 481; Marshall v. B. & O. R. R., 16 How. 314; Clippinger v. Hepbaugh, 5 W. & S., 315; Dudley v. Cilley, 5 N. H., 558; a municipal corporation cannot expend public money unless for public necessity; but not for private advantage, Hanson v. Vernon, 27 Ia. 47; State v. Wapello County, 13 Ia. 405; People v. McCreery, 34 Cal. 432; Hilbish v. Catherman, 64 Penn. St., 154; Warren v. Henly, 31 Ia. 31; S. & V. R. R. v. Stockton, 41 Cal. 149; Bay City v. State Treasurer, 23 Mich. 499.

Arthur Brown for defendants in error. A contract with an owner of lands specially benefited by it is binding on the owner of the lands, Crockett v. Boston, 5 Cush. 182; Springfield v. Harris, 107 Mass. 532; Townsend v. Hoyle, 20 Conn. 1; 1 Dill. Mun. Corp., § 382, n. 2.


Page 325

Marston, J.

This case came up in the circuit court upon an appeal from the allowance of the claim by the commissioners appointed to adjust claims against the estate of Thomas G. Duncan, deceased. A judgment was recovered in the circuit court and the case comes here upon writ of error.

The principal facts out of which this claim grew are, in brief, that Duncan was the owner of a tract of land in the city of Battle Creek which he desired to improve; that in April, 1870, he appeared before the common council of said city, and made a verbal proposition in reference to the building of a bridge across the Kalamazoo river, at the foot of Kendall street, and the extension of Kendall street across his land; that action was thereafter taken by the common council in reference thereto, his proposition was accepted and the bridge constructed, and it was claimed on the part of the city that it was entitled to recover out of his estate, in accordance with the proposition made by him and accepted by the city, one half the contract price of building the bridge, less the amount paid on Mr. Duncan's behalf during his lifetime.

It will not be necessary to discuss the several errors assigned separately and each at length; they raise certain legal propositions which we will proceed to consider.

First. That there was only one way by which the common council could act in the premises, viz.: by resolution, and that whatever action they did take is conclusively presumed to be evidenced by their record, and

Page 326

that parol evidence is inadmissible to alter, add to, or supplement such record; that the court...

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