Homer v. Lester

Decision Date05 June 1923
Docket NumberCase Number: 12882
Citation1923 OK 340,219 P. 392,95 Okla. 284
PartiesHOMER v. LESTER et al.
CourtOklahoma Supreme Court
Syllabus

¶0 1. Courts --Jurisdiction --Determination of Heirship.

Where the deceased intestate or testator has been dead for a period of three years or more and there is no lawful ground for administration proceedings in the county court, an alleged heir or record claimant desiring to have a determination of heirship and desiring to bring in third persons, who are not heirs but who claim through alleged heirs, must proceed either under the act of Legislature approved April 4, 1919, House Bill 445, in the district or superior court by a suit in ejectment or bill to quiet title, as the circumstances mould the remedy.

2. Indians -- Heirship -- County Courts -- Jurisdiction.

Under the heirship act of Congress, approved June 14, 1918 (40 Stat. at L. 606), the county courts have jurisdiction to determine the restricted heirs of an allottee or a deceased member of one of the tribes to whom an allotment was made under section 22 of the Choctaw-Chickasaw Treaty, approved by act of Congress July l, 1902 (32 Stat. at L. 641).

3. Same--Jurisdiction--Parties.

The heirship act of Congress approved June 14, 1918, does not authorize the petitioner or the county court in the heirship proceedings to bring in before the court any person other than a person claiming to be an heir of the deceased allottee.

4. Same--Conclusiveness of Decree.

The judgment of the county court (or the district court on appeal) in the proceedings authorized by the act of Congress of June 14, 1918, is not binding on or res adjudicata as to any person claiming an interest in or title to the allotment acquired by a conveyance or deed or contract executed prior to the act of June 14, 1918.

5. Courts--County Courts--Act Conferring Jurisdiction Relating to Title to Real Estate--Constitutionality.

That part of Senate Bill No. 60 entitled, "An Act to provide for determination of heirship in all cases of deceased persons," etc., approved April 4, 1919, attempting to confer jurisdiction on the county courts to render a judgment binding on record claimants, that is, persons who claim title to the land by purchase from heirs or alleged heirs, "where the time limited by law * * * for the institution of administration proceedings has elapsed without their institution, as well as in cases where there exists no lawful ground for the institution of administration proceedings in said court," violates section 12 of article 7 of the Oklahoma Constitution, and is void.

Error from District Court, Carter County; B. C. Logsdon, Judge.

Action by Nicie Homer against D. B. Lester et al. to recover possession of land. Judgment for defendants, and plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

Etheredge & Arnett, Sigler & Jackson, and J. M. Willis, for plaintiff in error.

Cottingham, Hayes, Green & McInnis, Ledbetter & Hudson, H. A. Ledbetter, and W. A. Ledbetter, for defendants in error.

KENNAMER, J.

¶1 Nicie Homer, plaintiff in error, plaintiff below, commenced this suit in the district court of Carter county on February 6, 1921, against defendants in error, D. B. Lester, M. I. Lester, W. A. Ledbetter, Richard M. Lester, J. R. Cottingham, S. T. Bledsoe, J. S. Mullen, J. W. Hoffmann, W. B. Jansen, W. E. Hodges, P. C. Dings, Max Westheimer, David Daube, Hugh W. McGill, trustee, and the Coline Oil Company, a corporation, to recover a certain described tract of land allotted to the heirs of Thomas J. Taylor as the land which Thomas J. Taylor would have been entitled to if living, as a full-blood Choctaw Indian. Westheimer and Daube filed disclaimers, and they are out of the case.

¶2 The pleadings and the evidence, including the agreed statement of facts, show that Thomas J. Taylor died in December, 1902, intestate, in what is now McCurtain county, Oklahoma, prior to having made any selection of any allotment; that Thomas J. Taylor was enrolled as a full-blood Choctaw Indian on the final and approved rolls of the Choctaw Nation; that after his death an administrator was appointed by the proper United States court for the Indian Territory; that the land involved in this case was selected by said administrator, which deceased would have been entitled to if living, and certificates of allotment issued dated December 21, 1903, and January 21, 1904, and proper patents were thereafter duly executed by the tribal authorities and approved by the Secretary of the Interior: that in the years 1904 and 1905 the brothers and sisters of Thomas J. Taylor, with his widow, Elsie Bohannon, joining them, executed and delivered to the defendants general warranty deeds for a valuable consideration purporting to convey the defendants the allotment of land in controversy; that Thomas J. Taylor left surviving him no child or descendant of any child, unless it shall be adjudged that plaintiff, Nicie Homer, is a child of Thomas J. Taylor; that defendants, under said deeds from the widow and brothers and sisters of Thomas J. Taylor, entered into immediate possession of the land and have been in continuous possession thereof ever since the years 1904 and 1905, claiming to be the owners under the deeds from the widow and brothers and sisters; that administration proceedings on the estate of Thomas J. Taylor, deceased, were pending in the county court of McCurtain county on the 7th day of January, 1920, but when such administration proceedings were commenced is not disclosed, nor does the record show the disposition of the administration appointment made by the United States court for the Indian Territory prior to statehood; that on January 7, 1920, plaintiff, Nicie Homer, filed a petition in the county court of McCurtain county entitled a petition for the determination of the heirship of Thomas J. Taylor, deceased, and alleged that Taylor died in December, 1902, in that part of the Indian Territory subsequently made McCurtain county, Okla,: that Taylor left no debts or personal property of any description, and that it was not necessary to administer his estate other than to determine his heirs; that an administrator had been appointed and administration proceedings were then pending in McCurtain county; that at the time of his death Taylor was the owner of the land therein described and left surviving him as his sole and only heir petitioner, Nicie Homer, nee Taylor, his daughter, a full-blood Choctaw Indian; that D. B. Lester and others "claim some right, title or interest in and to the land of which said Thomas J. Taylor died the owner of, the extent and interest claimed by them being to petitioner unknown, but that petitioner is informed and believes that said parties claim to own some interest in said lands by purchase by, through, or under or from some person or persons other than the said Thomas J. Taylor, deceased, and that they, or some of them, claim to own some right, title, or interest in or to the lands, of which said Thomas J. Taylor died the owner of, as heirs at law of the said Thomas J. Taylor, deceased."

¶3 Plaintiff in the petition for heirship determination also alleged that the persons claiming to be an heir or heirs of Thomas J. Taylor, deceased, were not his heirs, but that "there are other persons claiming to own an interest in and to said property of" said Thomas J. Taylor, "through, or under some person or persons claiming to be heirs at law of said Thomas J. Taylor, but the names, addresses, and interest claimed by them, or either of them, are to the petitioner unknown;" that petitioner with due diligence was unable to ascertain whether the unknown heirs of Taylor and the unknown claimants to his estate were living or dead, and if dead, who are their heirs, administrators, executors, or devisees. To that petition to determine heirship plaintiff attached the following prayer:

"All persons claiming an interest in or to the lands of which the said Thomas J. Taylor died the owner of, either as heirs at law, or record claimants by, through, or under any person, or persons, claiming to be an heir or heirs of Thomas J. Taylor, deceased, either immediate or remote, be required to submit to the court evidence, as to who are the heirs at law of Thomas J. Taylor, deceased, and that upon the hearing the court determine as a matter of fact who are the heirs at law of the said Thomas J Taylor, deceased, as of the time of his death, and that the court determine as a matter of fact that the petitioner, Nicie Homer, nee Taylor, is the sole and only heir at law of the said Thomas J. Taylor, deceased, as of the time of his death."

¶4 The defendants in error, as respondents to the heirship petition in the McCurtain county court appeared in the proceedings on the 8th of March, 1920, and filed an answer, denying that petitioner was the daughter of Thomas J. Taylor, and averred that Thomas J. Taylor died leaving no issue or descendants of issue, but left surviving him as his sole and only heirs his brothers and sisters, naming them, from whom defendants in error obtained deeds in 1904 and 1905; respondents averred that the petitioner was barred by the statutes of limitations, and denied that the county court had jurisdiction to settle the estate or determine the heirship, and denied that Senate Bill No. 60 of the Oklahoma 1919 Session Laws (p. 41) was valid and constitutional or conferred any power on the county court to determine respondent's title to the land in question, and prayed that the proceedings be dismissed, but that if the court did have jurisdiction, the judgment be entered finding petitioner not to be the heir. On the 29th of March, 1920, by agreement, respondents withdrew their answer and filed a demurrer on the ground that the petition did not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against defendants, and did not state sufficient facts to warrant a hearing, and also that the petition showed on its face that the court was without jurisdiction to determine the...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT