Felix v. Patrick

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBROWN
Citation36 L.Ed. 719,145 U.S. 317,12 S.Ct. 862
PartiesFELIX et al. v. PATRICK et al
Decision Date16 May 1892

145 U.S. 317
12 S.Ct. 862
36 L.Ed. 719
FELIX et al.
v.
PATRICK et al.
May 16, 1892.

Page 318

This was an appeal from a decree sustaining demurrers to a bill in equity filed by the heirs of Sophia Felix against the defendant Patrick and his grantees, for the purpose of having them declared trustees for the plaintiffs of certain lands in the city of Omaha, which in 1861 he had caused to be entered in the name of Sophia Felix by virtue of certain scrip issued to her as a member of the Dakota or Sioux nation of Indians.

The allegations of the bill were, in substance, as follows:

(1) That in 1854 Sophia Felix, being a half-breed of the Sioux or Dakota nation of Indians, residing in Minnesota, under the treaty of July 15, 1830, and the act of congress of July 17, 1854, was entitled to have issued to her scrip for the location of 480 acres of land, as provided by that act. That in 1857 scrip was issued to her for 480 acres, and that before the location of said scrip the said Sophia Felix intermarried with one David Garnelle.

(2) That on March 31, 1860, certain persons unknown, 'by certain wicked devices and fraudulent means,' procured the said Sophia with her husband, said David Garnelle, to execute a power of attorney in blank, also a quitclaim deed in blank, a copy of each of which was attached to the bill. The power of attorney omitted the name of the attorney, the number of the scrip, and the description of the land, and authorized the person whose name was to be inserted to sell and convey and confirm unto the purchaser there of the following described pieces or parcels of land, 'to be located for us and in our name,' etc. The quitclaim deed also omitted the name of the grantee and the description of the land, but both instruments were otherwise in legal form.

(3) That the defendant Patrick in November, 1861, pro-

Page 319

cured from some person unknown possession of said strip, to the amount of 120 acres, and on November 21st made application to the land office at Omaha to locate such scrip, and thereupon, in the name of said Sophia Felix, located the same upon certain described real estate in the county of Douglas and territory of Nebraska. (These lands are now admitted to be within the limits of the city of Omaha.) That 'at the time of said location the said Sophia Felix had never parted with the title to or any interest in said scrip, and was the absolute owner thereof and sole beneficiary therein, and these facts the said Matthewson T. Patrick at that time and at all times well knew; and the said location inured wholly to the benefit of the said Sophia Felix,' although she had no knowledge that Patrick had procured the possession of the said scrip or located the same. That the said Patrick, 'in securing possession of said scrip, procured the same with the intent to appropriate the scrip to his own use, and defraud the said Sophia Felix out of the same, and out of all interest therein, and out of all benefits thereunder, and located the same designing it for his own use and benefit, and with the fraudulent intent to deprive the said Sophia Felix out of all benefit and interest therein.'

(4) That, in the further prosecution of his scheme to defraud, Patrick secured the blank power of attorney and quitclaim deed, and shortly thereafter caused the power to be filled out with a description of the scrip, and of the property located with it, and caused the name of William Ruth to be inserted as the attorney to sell and convey the property, a description of which was so inserted. That he also caused the quitclaim deed to be filled out with a description of the property, and inserted his own name as grantee, making the instrument purport to be a conveyance by Sophia and David Garnelle to himself. That on September 7, 1863, he caused the said power of attorney and quitclaim deed to be filed for record in the recorder's office of Douglas county, and in furtherance of said wrongful designs caused the said William Ruth, named by himself as attorney, to execute and deliver to him a deed of the property, by virtue of his pretended authority, and caused the same to be filed for record.

Page 320

(5) That, at and before the location of such scrip, defendant Patrick was in possession of the premises, and had attempted to acquire title to the same by pre-emption, but in that respect was unsuccessful, and that said scrip was procured and located by him for his own benefit, and to acquire a title which he could not acquire under the pre-emption acts.

(6) That in furtherance of said scheme the said Patrick procured the enactment of an act of congress, approved February 2, 1869, confirming the title to the land in question to the parties holding by deed from the patentee.

(7) That the said Patrick never informed the said Sophia or her husband, or any one related to her by blood, 'that he had procured and located said scrip, or that he had procured said blank instruments and filled them out, or had caused a deed to be executed conveying to himself the real estate herein before described, or that he claimed any owhership therein; but, on the contrary, fraudulently concealed the same, and exercised every precaution to prevent said proceedings coming to the knowledge of said parties.' That, recognizing the frailty of his title, he endeavored for several years to secure the execution of a deed by the said Sophia and her husband without letting them know the character of the instrument, whereby they would convey to him in fee the said property, and to that end procured his father to write a letter, a copy of which was made an exhibit. That all the acts heretofore stated were in the execution of an unlawful scheme to wrong and defraud said Sophia out of said scrip and property. That the instruments executed as aforesaid by her and her husband were not intended by them to be used for the purpose of conveying the said property to any person whatsoever, or to authorize such conveyance by any other person, and no consideration was received by either of them for the scrip, but that Patrick has claimed, and still claims and asserts, ownership in the premises, ever since the location of said scrip.

(8) That a large part of said land has been platted and recorded, divided into lots, and sold by warranty deed to others, who are made defendants as purchasers from him of particular descriptions given in the bill.

Page 321

(9) That these grantees had notice of infirmities, if not actual fraud, attaching to the title of Patrick, since, among other things, the power of attorney and deed are dated nearly two years prior to the scrip location. That on July 3, 1863, the United States issued to the said Sophia Felix its patent for the premises, which was filed for record on July 25, 1863.

(10) That the said Sophia Garnelle died December, 1865, and during her lifetime had no knowledge that Patrick had secured and located said scrip; had no knowledge that the power of attorney and quitclaim deed had been filled out or used in any manner, or placed on record; and had no knowledge as to the disposition made of such scrip, or of the acts of the said Patrick. That the plaintiffs, who are the heirs at law of the said Sophia Felix, had no knowledge whatever of the facts set forth until 1887, when, under a certain treaty with the Sioux Indians, they became citizens of the United States, and that prior to this time they had maintained their tribal relations with the Sioux Indians, and were, by acts of congress, inhibited and barred from instituting any action in any of the courts, federal or state, in the United States, were denied access to the said courts, and had no legal standing therein as a party.

(11) That Patrick and those claiming under him ought not to be permitted to hold such real estate, but should surrender the same to the plaintiffs, in view of the fact that said scrip, under the treaty of Prairie du Chien and the act of congress of July 17, 1854, could not be sold, assigned, or transferred, directly or indirectly. That Patrick received said scrip in trust for said Sophia, and located the same in trust for her, and holds possession of the land as trustee for her and her heirs, and ought not to be allowed to assume any adverse relation to the plaintiffs. That he ought also account for the rents, issues, and profits of said land for all the time he has had possession thereof, etc. Prayer that he be declared a trustee; that the power of attorney and quitclaim deed be declared fraudulent and void, and a cloud upon plaintiff's title. and be canceled; that the act of congress confirming Patrick's title to the lands be declared unconstitutional and void; that the defendants

Page 322

surrender possession of the land to the plaintiffs; and that the said Patrick account for the rents and profits, etc.

There were three separate demurrers filed to this bill by Patrick and several of the other defendants, principally upon the ground of want of equity and laches. Upon hearing in the court below the bill was dismissed, (36 Fed. Rep. 457,) and the plaintiffs appealed to this court.

Mr. Justice FIELD, dissenting. 36 Fed. Rep. 457, affirmed.

J. C. Cowin, W. D. Shipman, and J. H. Parsons, for appellants.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 322-324 intentionally omitted]

Page 325

John L. Webster, for appellees.

STATEMENT BY MR. JUSTICE BROWN.

Mr. Justice BROWN, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.

There are really but two questions involved in this case: (1) Whether Patrick located this scrip and took these lands under the blank power of attorney and deed, as trustee for Sophia Felix; and (2) whether the plaintiffs are estopped by their own laches and those of Sophia Felix from insisting that Patrick shall be decreed to hold the lands for their benefit.

The facts of the case, briefly stated, are as follows: Sophia Felix, a half-breed Indian, was entitled...

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155 practice notes
  • Pinney Dock and Transport Co. v. Penn Cent. Corp., Nos. 84-3653
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 13 Abril 1988
    ...in Rosenthal v. Walker, it was reaffirmed, and was distinguished from the case of Wood v. Carpenter ..."). See, however, Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 12 S.Ct. 862, 36 L.Ed. 719 (1892), which neither cites to, nor makes any attempt to reconcile, Bailey v. Glover with Wood v. The last refe......
  • Canton Lutheran Church v. SOVIK, MATHRE, ETC., Civ. No. 79-4068.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • 13 Febrero 1981
    ...in a shape to be effectually enforced." Burer v. Chapman, 119 U.S. 587, 7 S.Ct. 342, 30 L.Ed. 532 (1887). See also, Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 12 S.Ct. 862, 36 L.Ed. 719 (1892). Norris v. Haggin, 136 U.S. 386, 10 S.Ct. 942, 34 L.Ed. 424 (1890). Avery v. Cleary, 132 U.S. 604, 10 S.Ct. 2......
  • Oneida Indian Nation Of N.Y. v. County Of Oneida, Docket No. 07-2430-cv(L)
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • 9 Agosto 2010
    ...the United States relies suggest, however, that such relief in this case would also be equitable in nature. See, e.g., Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 328, 12 S.Ct. 862, 36 L.Ed. 719 (1892); United States v. Minnesota, 270 U.S. 181, 191-92, 46 S.Ct. 298, 70 L.Ed. 539 (1926); see also Great-......
  • County of Oneida, New York v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York State New York v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York State, Nos. 83-1065
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 4 Marzo 1985
    ...[they] were chargeable with the same diligence as white people in discovering and pursuing their legal remedies. [Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 12 S.Ct. 862, 36 L.Ed. 719 (1892) ]; [Schrimpscher v. Stockton, 183 U.S. 290, 22 S.Ct. 107, 46 L.Ed. 203 (1902) ]." Bluejacket v. Ewert, 265 Fed.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
155 cases
  • Pinney Dock and Transport Co. v. Penn Cent. Corp., Nos. 84-3653
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 13 Abril 1988
    ...in Rosenthal v. Walker, it was reaffirmed, and was distinguished from the case of Wood v. Carpenter ..."). See, however, Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 12 S.Ct. 862, 36 L.Ed. 719 (1892), which neither cites to, nor makes any attempt to reconcile, Bailey v. Glover with Wood v. The last refe......
  • Canton Lutheran Church v. SOVIK, MATHRE, ETC., Civ. No. 79-4068.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • 13 Febrero 1981
    ...in a shape to be effectually enforced." Burer v. Chapman, 119 U.S. 587, 7 S.Ct. 342, 30 L.Ed. 532 (1887). See also, Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 12 S.Ct. 862, 36 L.Ed. 719 (1892). Norris v. Haggin, 136 U.S. 386, 10 S.Ct. 942, 34 L.Ed. 424 (1890). Avery v. Cleary, 132 U.S. 604, 10 S.Ct. 2......
  • Oneida Indian Nation Of N.Y. v. County Of Oneida, Docket No. 07-2430-cv(L)
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • 9 Agosto 2010
    ...the United States relies suggest, however, that such relief in this case would also be equitable in nature. See, e.g., Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 328, 12 S.Ct. 862, 36 L.Ed. 719 (1892); United States v. Minnesota, 270 U.S. 181, 191-92, 46 S.Ct. 298, 70 L.Ed. 539 (1926); see also Great-......
  • County of Oneida, New York v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York State New York v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York State, Nos. 83-1065
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 4 Marzo 1985
    ...[they] were chargeable with the same diligence as white people in discovering and pursuing their legal remedies. [Felix v. Patrick, 145 U.S. 317, 12 S.Ct. 862, 36 L.Ed. 719 (1892) ]; [Schrimpscher v. Stockton, 183 U.S. 290, 22 S.Ct. 107, 46 L.Ed. 203 (1902) ]." Bluejacket v. Ewert, 265 Fed.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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