44 U.S. 333 (1845), Oliver v. Piatt

Citation:44 U.S. 333, 11 L.Ed. 622
Party Name:WILLIAM OLIVER AND MICAJAH T. WILLIAMS AND OTHERS, APPELLANTS, v. ROBERT PIATT.
Case Date:February 26, 1845
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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44 U.S. 333 (1845)

11 L.Ed. 622

WILLIAM OLIVER AND MICAJAH T. WILLIAMS AND OTHERS, APPELLANTS,

v.

ROBERT PIATT.

United States Supreme Court.

February 26, 1845

OPINION

THIS was an appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the district of Ohio, sitting as a court of equity.

The record was very voluminous, consisting of nearly eight hundred printed pages. The acts and declarations of the parties were given in evidence, running through a period of twenty years; and the case being an appeal from the decree of the Circuit Court, as a court of equity, all this matter was brought up to the Supreme Court. It is impossible, therefore, to put into this statement all the circumstances which had a bearing upon the point in issue, which was, whether a trust did or did not continue in a valuable body of land. The leading incidents in the history of the case are these:----

In the summer of 1817, two distinct companies were formed at Cincinnati for the purpose of purchasing lands at the public sales of the United States, to be shortly held at Wooster, in the state of Ohio; the object being to lay out and establish a town in the reserve of twelve miles square on the Miami of Lake Erie, since called the Maumee river.

One company, called the Piatt Company, was composed of the following persons: John H. Piatt, William M. Worthington, Gorham A. Worth, and Robert Piatt, the plaintiff in the suit below, and now defendant in error.

The other company was called the Baum Company and composed of the following persons: Martin Baum, Jacob Burnett, William C. Schenck, William Barr, William Oliver, (one of the plaintiffs in error,) Andrew Mack and Jesse Hunt.

What the articles of agreement were between the members of the Piatt Company the record did not show.

On the 7th of June, 1817, the Baum Company entered into the following articles of agreement--Mack being admitted to half a share, the whole interest was divided into thirteen parts, whereof Mack held one-thirteenth and each of the other persons two-thirteenths:----

'We, the undersigned, agree to enter into a partnership for the purpose of purchasing lands and lots at the public sales to be held at Wooster, on the seventh and fifteenth of July next; and for the purpose of effecting the said purchases, we agree to borrow, at the Office of Discount and Deposit at Cincinnati, the sum of eight thousand dollars, for which sum, and for all purchases made by our agents, either at the public sales or otherwise, we hold ourselves

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jointly and equally liable. And we do further agree that William C. Schenck, William Barr, and William Oliver shall be our agents to explore the lands and make the purchases. And we do agree to confirm and comply with any contracts that our agents aforesaid may make on our account. And it is further agreed that our said agents shall be authorized to take in any other partner or partners that they may see proper, on such terms as they may esteem advantageous. And it is further agreed that in consideration of the services to be performed by the agents above, their expenses, incident to making the purchases aforesaid, shall be defrayed by the other individuals comprising the company.

'In witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals, at Cincinnati, this the seventh day of June, eighteen hundred and seventeen.

'MARTIN BAUM, [SEAL.]

JESSE HUNT, [SEAL.]

J. BURNET, [SEAL.]

W. C. SCHENCK, [SEAL.]

W. BARR, [SEAL.]

WILLIAM OLIVER. [SEAL.]'

The Piatt Company appointed Robert Piatt its agent.

On the 23d of June, 1817, Worthington, John H. Piatt, and Worth addressed a letter of instructions to Robert Piatt, their agent, directing him how to proceed, and enclosing $4,000 to make the first payment on the lots of land which he might purchase.

The agents having made their selections, met at Wooster to attend the sales, and then ascertained that they had each selected the following tracts, viz.: 1, 2, 3, 4, 86, and 87. In consequence of this, the following agreement was entered into, viz.:

'We, the undersigned, agree, on behalf of the companies we represent, to wit: William C. Schenck, of Warren county, Ohio, and William Oliver, of Cincinnati, Ohio, for themselves, and for Jacob Burnet, Martin Baum, Jesse Hunt, William Barr, and Andrew Mack, all of Hamilton county, Ohio; and Robert Piatt, of Boon county, Kentucky, for himself, and for William M. Worthington, John H. Piatt, and Gorham A. Worth, all of Hamilton county, Ohio, to purchase at the public sales, in July, 1817, at Wooster, lots numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4, at, and including, the mouth of Swan creek, in township No. 3, in the United States reserve, at the foot of the rapids of the Miami of the Lakes, for the joint benefit of both companies; that is, one company to have one-half interest in the whole, and the other company to have the other half; each company paying one-half of the purchase money. It is further agreed that Robert Piatt, in behalf of his company and the company of Schenck and Oliver, shall be the bidder for lots Nos. 1 and 2, and William Oliver for lots Nos. 3 and 4, they being the above four lots at the mouth of Swan creek.

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'In witness whereof, the parties have hereunto interchangeably set their hands and seals, this 17th day of July, 1817.

W. C. SCHENCK, [SEAL.]

WILLIAM OLIVER, [SEAL.]

ROBERT PIATT. [SEAL.]'

And afterwards the following:

'The undersigned have agreed to purchase, for the joint benefit of their companies, lots or tracts of land numbered 86 and 87, opposite the mouth of Swan creek, on the same principles that lots numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4, at the mouth of Swan creek, were purchased, as per agreement between William C. Schenck and William Oliver, for themselves and others, and Robert Piatt, for himself and others, bearing date 17th July, 1817.

ROBERT PIATT, [SEAL.]

WILLIAM OLIVER. [SEAL.]'

On the 18th of July, 1817, in conformity with the above agreements, William Oliver bid in lots Nos. 3 and 4, and on the 19th of July, Robert Piatt bid in tracts 1, 2, 86 and 87. The original certificates for the tracts bid in by Oliver, were made out in his name, and for the tracts bid in by Piatt, in the names of himself, John H. Piatt, Worth, and Worthington, in conformity with the letter of instructions addressed to him on the 23d of June.

On the 21st of July, 1817, Robert Piatt bid in, for the separate account of the Piatt company, the following other tracts, viz.:

North-west quarter-section 2, township 3.

South-west quarter-section 2, township 3.

South-west quarter-section 3, township 3.

North-west quarter-section 3, township 3.

South-east quarter-section 3, township 3.

The first instalment of the purchase money for which was paid by the Piatt company.

On the 4th of August, 1817, Robert Piatt settled an account with the Piatt company, giving them credit for the four thousand dollars above mentioned, and charging them with one-half of the instalments which had been paid upon Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, and with the whole of the instalments which had been paid upon Nos. 86 and 87, and upon the five quarter-sections.

After the return of the agents to Cincinnati, a meeting of both companies was held; the acts of the agents at Wooster were ratified, and the two companies were, in respect to their joint purchases, consolidated in a new company called the Port Lawrence Company. Martin Baum was appointed trustee, for the purpose of carrying out a resolution of the company that a town sould be laid out upon a part of the land. It was further agreed that Oliver should be appointed an agent to lay out the town and make sale of the lots; and he was directed, in performing this duty, to call to his

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assistance William C. Schenck, another of the original members of the Baum Company.

Each of the companies purchased other lands upon its own private account.

On the 14th of August, 1817, Oliver executed a bond to Baum in the penal sum of twenty thousand dollars, the condition of which was as follows:

'Whereas, the above named Martin Baum hath this day constituted and appointed the before-bound William Oliver his agent, with power to lay out a town at the mouth of Swan creek, on the Miami of the Lakes, and hath authorized the said William to sell and dispose of the lots in said town, agreeably to a letter of instructions, and to receive payment for the same from the purchasers, and to execute and deliver certificates, in the nature of title bonds, for the lots by him sold. Now the condition of the above obligation is such, that if the said William Oliver shall in all things well and truly execute the trust reposed in him by the said Martin Baum, and shall render a true account of his proceedings, when required, and shall faithfully pay over to the said Martin all moneys by him received for or on account of sales made in the town to be laid off by him, as aforesaid, when thereto required, then, and in such case, the above obligation shall cease and determine, otherwise remain in full force and virtue.'

On the same day, Baum executed a power of attorney to Oliver, as follows:

'Know all men by these presents, that I, Martin Baum, of Cincinnati, in the state of Ohio, for divers good causes and considerations me thereunto moving, have made, constituted, and appointed, and by these presents do make, constitute and appoint William Oliver, of said place, my true and lawful attorney, for me and in my name, to sell and dispose of the lots in a town to be laid off at Swan creek, on the Miami of the Lakes, agreeably to a letter of instructions therewith delivered, and to receive payment for the same from the purchasers, and to execute and deliver certificates, in the nature of title-bonds, for the lots by him sold, and to all lawful acts requisite for effecting the premises, hereby ratifying and confirming all that my said attorney shall lawfully do therein by virtue hereof. In testimony whereof,'...

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