Ingram v. Watson

Decision Date11 May 1924
Docket Number7 Div. 461.
Citation100 So. 557,211 Ala. 410
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Rehearing Denied June 5, 1924.

Appeal from Circuit Court, Calhoun County; A. P. Agee, Judge.

Action in detinue by V. H. Watson against S. P. Ingram and A. W Bell, doing business as Ingram & Co. Judgment for plaintiff and defendants appeal. Transferred from Court of Appeals under Acts 1911, p. 449, § 6. Affirmed.

Hugh Walker, of Anniston, for appellants.

Lapsley & Carr, of Anniston, for appellee.


This is a detinue suit by V. H. Watson against Ingram & Co., a partnership composed of S. P. Ingram and A. W. Bell, for a bale of cotton, weighing 415 pounds, gin mark D. B., warehouse No. 42024. The defendants pleaded general issue; jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, and from a judgment thereon by the court, this appeal is prosecuted by the defendants.

The plaintiff and defendants claim title to the bale of cotton by separate mortgages both given by the same mortgagor, but under different names. Doll Bell and his wife executed to plaintiff a mortgage on his cotton crop for the year 1922 on March 10, 1922, and it was duly filed for record on March 13, 1922, and recorded March 14, 1922, in the probate office of Calhoun county, the county in which the cotton was raised by the mortgagor. Rufus Bell executed a mortgage to the defendants on two mules, a horse, cows, and the cotton crop of 1922 on March 27, 1922, and it was duly filed for record and recorded in that probate office on March 28, 1922. It is not disputed that the mortgagor, Doll Bell, in plaintiff's mortgage is the same person as Rufus Bell, the mortgagor in defendants' mortgage. Both mortgages are unpaid, and the cotton was raised by the mortgagor in 1922.

The plaintiff testified:

"I took this [his] mortgage from Doll Bell. I know him and have known him for about three years. I didn't know him by any other name than Doll Bell."

Plaintiff also stated that at the time this mortgage was made he "asked him [Bell] was Doll all the name he had, and he said it was. He said, 'That will do; Doll Bell."' This was competent evidence. It tended to show his true name was Doll Bell. Ozark, etc., Bank v. P. & M. Bank, 197 Ala. 427, 73 So. 72. He stated the first time he heard of the name of Rufus Bell was after the cotton was ginned and this controversy arose over it; then he heard that his true name was Rufus Bell.

On March 27, 1922, the defendants sold the mortgagor two mules for $450, payable $25 cash, $25 April 4, $50 June 1st, and the balance October 1, 1922, and Rufus Bell executed the mortgage to them to secure the note for the above amounts on the property hereinbefore mentioned. S. P. Ingram, one of the defendants, testified:

"I know this negro they call Rufus Bell. The first time I ever saw him was on the 27th of March, 1922. That is the day the paper I hold in my hand was executed. He told me at that time that his name was Rufus Bell. He told me where he lived. That was the first time that I ever knew him in any way. I sold him some stock that day, and that stock is described in this mortgage."

He stated he had been selling mules in Anniston for some 20-odd years constantly, and advancing to white people and a great many negroes. He further testified:

"At the time I sold these mules to this negro all that I knew about where he lived was what he told me. I asked him where he lived, and he told me between Chocolooco and White Plains, on Mr. Charlie Borders' place. I made no particular inquiries as to him of people that knew him."

There was evidence that the full, real name of the mortgagor is Weightman Tell Rufus Bell. His Christian name by which he was intended to be called by his parents is Rufus, and while a small child he was nicknamed "Doll," and he has been called and known ever since by the name of Doll Bell. The bale of cotton in controversy, when seized, had the initials "D. B." on it, placed there by the ginner.

In Milbra v. S. S. S. & I. Co., 182 Ala. 630, 62 So. 179, 46 L. R. A. (N. S.) 274, this court wrote:

"A person may adopt what name he pleases, and if he deals with others, or goes to court in a name, no matter what, no harm is done."

In 29 Cyc. p. 270, we find this general text:

"Without abandoning his real name a person may adopt any name, style or signature wholly different from his own name by which he may transact business, execute contracts, issue negotiable paper and sue and be sued."

This is supported by Carlisle v. People's Bank, 122 Ala. 446, 26 So. 115.

Hence it was relevant and competent for the plaintiff to introduce evidence proving or tending to prove that this mortgagor assumed and adopted the name-the nickname-Doll Bell; that he had been known and called by it since childhood, transacted all of his business in that name, signed mortgages in that name, was called and known in the community where he lived and whenever he did business by Doll Bell, and prosecuted a suit in that name in the court in Anniston. There was evidence that prior to this transaction he had executed many mortgages in different years, and he signed them Doll Bell, and they were recorded in Anniston in the probate office, where the mortgage of the defendant was executed. This was relevant evidence. It tended to show he had adopted that name, and was generally known by it.

The mortgagor testified:

"I suppose that mortgage I made to Ingram & Co. in March, 1922, is the first mortgage for public record I signed Rufus."

It was also competent to prove that he kept an account in the bank in Anniston and other places in the name of Doll Bell, signed and indorsed checks in the name of Doll Bell for some time before the mortgage was executed to the defendants.

The defendants did business in Anniston for 20 years, within 8 miles of where the mortgagor resided since a child. Some of the witnesses testified they had known Bell, the mortgagor, by the name of Doll Bell all of his life, and never heard of the name of Rufus Bell until after this suit was commenced. It was competent evidence, as it tended to show he had been known generally and for a long time by that name.

The defendants offered in evidence the record of marriages showing a license was issued to W. T. R. Bell, the summons and complaint of the Anniston National Bank versus W. T. R. Bell, the tax record showing property assessed in the name of W. T. R. Bell. The court sustained objection to this record evidence, and properly so; it did not tend to show that the mortgagor's name was Doll Bell or Rufus Bell, or that he was or was not generally known and called Doll Bell.

Section 3373 of the Code of 1907 reads as follows:

"The recording in the proper office of any conveyance of property which may be legally admitted to record, operates as a notice of the contents of such conveyance, without any acknowledgment or probate thereof as required by law."

The plaintiff complied with this statute, filed and had recorded its mortgage prior to the execution and recordation of the mortgage of the defendants, but the mortgagor, Bell, signed the mortgage to plaintiff in the name of Doll Bell, and signed the mortgage to the defendants in the name of Rufus Bell. The defendants claim the name of Doll Bell is an assumed or nick name, and that they are bona fide mortgagees of the cotton from the mortgagor, and that his true name is Rufus Bell, and the true name was signed to their mortgage, and they had no actual or constructive notice prior to or at the time of the execution of their mortgage that Doll Bell, an assumed or nick name, signed to plaintiff's mortgage, was Rufus Bell, and that the mortgagor in each mortgage was one and the same person.

There is some evidence, though slight, indicating Bell's true and only name is Doll Bell. If Bell's true name is Doll Bell, and not Rufus Bell, then the recordation of plaintiff's mortgage, signed by the...

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10 cases
  • Hosmer v. Hosmer, 11607
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • December 19, 1980
    ...Application of Green, 54 Misc.2d 606, 283 N.Y.S.2d 242, 244 (1967). "A person may adopt what name he pleases." Ingram v. Watson, 211 Ala. 410, 100 So. 557, 559 (1924). "In the absence of a statute to the contrary, a person may ordinarily change his name at will, without any legal proceeding......
  • Major Millworks, Inc. v. MAE Hardwoods, Inc.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Civil Appeals
    • June 12, 2015
    ...issue negotiable paper and sue and be sued." ’ " State v. Taylor, 415 So.2d 1043, 1046–47 (Ala.1982) (quoting Ingram v. Watson, 211 Ala. 410, 413, 100 So. 557, 559, (1924), quoting in turn 29 Cyc. 270); see Jordan Undertaking Co. v. Asberry, 230 Ala. 97, 98–99, 159 So. 683, 684 (1935) ("A p......
  • State v. Taylor
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • April 9, 1982
    ...used"? We hold that the trial court did not err. The law of Alabama, as it relates to names, is stated succinctly in Ingram v. Watson, 211 Ala. 410, 100 So. 557 (1924): "In Milbra v. S.S.S. & I. Co., 182 Ala. 630, 62 South. 179, 46 L.R.A. (N.S.) 274, this court " 'A person may adopt what na......
  • National Life & Accident Ins. Co. v. Saffold
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • November 10, 1932
    ... ... This is accomplished when it is ... that by which she is known or called, as when she herself ... declares it to be her name. Ingram v. Watson, 211 ... Ala. 410, 100 So. 557; Milbra v. S.-S. S. & I. Co., ... 182 Ala. 623, 630, 62 So. 176, 179, 46 L. R. A. (N. S.) 274; ... 45 ... ...
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