Brantley v. Helton

Decision Date14 January 1932
Docket Number4 Div. 590.
Citation224 Ala. 93,139 So. 283
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Appeal from Circuit Court, Pike County; W. L. Parks, Judge.

Action of ejectment by Erin T. Helton against Jule Wiley Brantley and another. From a judgment for plaintiff, defendants appeal.

Reversed and rendered.

Wilkerson & Brannen, of Troy, for appellants.

A. G Seay, of Troy, for appellee.


The action is statutory ejectment to recover a triangular strip of land 150 feet in length, 5 1/2 feet in width at the north end, and narrowing to a point at the south end.

The parties are owners of adjoining city lots. Each claims the stip in question.

Appellants defendants below, raise the point that the plaintiff failed to prove title, in that no chain of title back to a common source, nor evidence of prior possession in plaintiff, nor those under whom she claims was introduced. No statutory issue to settle a disputed boundary line being presented, and plaintiff's right of recovery depending on the strength of her own title to this strip, this position would seem to be correct.

But the cause was tried and evidence fully developed with a view to settling the true line between the residence lots of Mrs Helton on the east and Mrs. Brantley on the west, and we proceed to consider the case to that end.

In 1880, O. C. Wiley, father of Mrs. Brantley, purchased and obtained a deed to west half of lot 9, according to the Goldthwaite survey of the lands of the estate of James S. Murphree, deceased, in the city of Troy.

Lot 9, according to this survey, fronted south on College street 294 feet, and ran back north a uniform width to the quarter section line. Murphree street was later laid out across the north end, and still later surveys show the depth of the lot from College street to Murphree street to be 407 feet.

From the time of his purchase in 1880, Mr. Wiley occupied his lot as residence property. He, as early as 1880, or his predecessors had theretofore built a fence on the east side of his property, extending the entire length of the lot. The back or north end of his lot was inclosed and used as a garden.

This fence was maintained, and actual possession held thereto for more than thirty years during the lifetime of Mr. Wiley. Mrs. Wiley, his widow, testifies that he always claimed title to this as the line fence.

Turning to the adjoining lot on the east, known as the Wood's lot, the first link in plaintiff's chain of title, dating back to 1894, describes the same as bounded on the west by "lot of O. C. Wiley." We note this early conveyance from A. A. Park to Mellona L. Wood calls for no plat, gives no dimensions, but bounds the lot by naming the adjoining streets and landowners.

It appearing without dispute that the Wiley lot was then inclosed, the natural import of such deed was to convey to the Wiley lot as then defined by possession and the dividing fence. The same description appears in the conveyances to F. S. Wood in 1911.

Plaintiff's deed calls merely for the northwest corner of the F. S. Wood lot, which, by reference to the F. S. Wood deed, means the northeast corner of the Wiley lot.

After the opening of Murphree street north of lot 9, Mr. Wiley, in 1913, desiring to deed to each of his two daughters a residence lot fronting on Murphree street, caused a plat to be made of his property, retaining for his residence the full width on College street and running back 257 feet, and dividing the residue, 150 feet in depth, into two lots. This plat shows 147 feet front on Murphree street, being one-half the width of lot 9 as per original Goldthwaite plat, and deeds were made by Mr. and Mrs. Wiley to each of their two daughters, according to this plat, calling for 73 1/2 feet each in width. The plat was duly recorded.

In 1917, Mrs. Brantley built a residence on her lot, rented it for one year, and has occupied same ever since. There is evidence that at the time such residence was built Mr. Wiley pointed out the line fence, still standing, as the eastern boundary of Mrs. Brantley's lot; that the residence and driveway were located with reference thereto; that Mrs. Brantley within the year set myrtles, which are still standing just on her side of the fence; and that she has held possession, claiming to such line as her boundary, for more than ten years prior and down to the bringing of this suit.

There is further evidence, not disputed, that Mr. Wood, during the lifetime of Mr. Wiley, joined in maintaining the fence between the two properties; and further evidence that he inclosed his adjoining lot, fronting on Murphree street; and, after Mrs. Brantley acquired her lot, Mr. Wood rebuilt the fence on the same line as a part of the inclosure of his lot. This fence remained until Mrs. Helton, the plaintiff, acquired her lot from the administrators of F. S. Wood, deceased, in 1923.

Mrs. Helton then built on her lot. A portion of this old fence at the front was then removed. As to his, without going into details, it is clear from Mrs. Helton's testimony that this was not due to any question as to the boundary line between the lots, but for convenience, and by permission of Mrs. Brantley. Indeed, Mrs. Helton shows she never questioned the location of the boundary until 1929, when it was ascertained the measurement of the lot still east of her was short, and a survey was made placing her corner 5 1/2 feet west of the location of the fence. This gave rise to a controversy for the first time. Thereupon, Mr. Brantley re-extended the fence back to the street, and this lawsuit followed.

We note, of course, some testimony for plaintiff to the effect that the present fence is, at the front, not precisely on the line of the old fence. No effort is made to show how much it is off line. The whole evidence clearly shows it was intended to be and is substantially on the old line, identified by shade trees, a chinaberry stump, myrtles, and the dividing...

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28 cases
  • Watson v. Price
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • March 3, 1978
    ... ... Brantley v. Helton, 224 Ala. 93, 139 So. 283; Branyon v. Kirk, 238 Ala. 321, 191 So. 345. See Code of 1940, Title 7, section 828, page 713, where the cases ... ...
  • Branyon v. Kirk, 8 Div. 917.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • October 5, 1939
    ... ... If he is in the actual possession ... with the intention to hold it and claim it as his own, it is ... adverse. Brantley v. Helton, 224 Ala. 93, 139 So ... The ... court found as to this contention, not that appellants had ... not had adverse possession for ... ...
  • Cloud v. Southmont Development Co.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • October 7, 1971
    ... ... Brantley v. Helton, 224 Ala. 93, 139 So. 283; Branyon v. Kirk, 238 Ala. 321, 191 So. 345. The statute, Tit. 7, § 828, supra, does not prescribe a limitation ... ...
  • McKee v. Goldthwaite
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • May 20, 1971
    ... ... If he is in the actual possession with the intention to hold it and claim it as his own, it is adverse. Brantley v. Helton, 224 Ala. 93, 139 So. 283.' ...         This Court, in Whitlow v. Moore, 246 Ala. 472, 21 So.2d 253 (1945), held that possession is ... ...
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