Miesen v. Canfield, s. 9979 - (112).

Decision Date25 May 1896
Docket NumberNos. 9979 - (112).,s. 9979 - (112).
Citation64 Minn. 513
CourtMinnesota Supreme Court

S. L. Campbell, for appellant.

Murdoch & Murdoch, for respondent.


As the record in this case consists merely of the pleadings and findings, the only question presented is whether the conclusions of law are justified by the findings of fact.

The action was brought to determine adverse claims to 120 acres of land. The defendant claims under the patent title from the United States. The plaintiff claims title by adverse possession of himself and grantors for more than 15 years. The trial court found generally that neither the defendant nor those under whom he claims have been in the actual occupation of any part of the premises since the fall of 1877, but that ever since that date the plaintiff, and those under whom he claims, have been in the actual, open, continuous, hostile, and exclusive possession of the whole 120 acres; and there is nothing inconsistent with this in the special findings or findings of certain evidentiary facts. The court finds that plaintiff's grantor entered into possession in 1877, claiming title to the whole 120 acres under tax deed, which, however, was void on its face; that the same year he broke up and plowed 10 or 12 acres on one 40, which was substantially all of the 120 acres that was suited for tillage, the rest being rough and wooded; that all the balance of the 120 acres has remained uninclosed and uncultivated and unoccupied, except by plaintiff and his grantors. So far from being inconsistent with the general finding, this is corroborative of it.

Where the occupant enters under a claim of title founded upon a deed or other written muniment of title, and has been in the continuous actual occupancy of some part of the premises for the statutory period, he will be deemed to have been in possession of the entire premises described in the deed not in the adverse possession of any one else, although uninclosed and unimproved, provided the premises consist of a single tract of proper size, to be managed and used as one body according to the usual manner of business. Otherwise expressed, an entry under a deed containing specific metes and bounds will give constructive possession of the whole tract described in the deed not in any adverse possession, although not all inclosed or improved. He is presumed to have intended his entry to be co-extensive with the description in his deed, although his improvements are only on a part of the tract. Such a person occupies a different position from a mere naked trespasser or intruder, whose possession will be only co-extensive with his actual occupancy. And any instrument, however defective or ineffectual to convey title in fact, and even if void on its face, will be sufficient to bring a case within this rule if by sufficient description it purports to convey title. Whether valid or void on its face, it characterizes the entry of the occupant by showing the nature and extent of his claim. In this case the premises constituted a single contiguous tract suited to be managed and used in one body. Murphy v. Doyle, 37 Minn. 113, 33 N. W. 220.

Counsel for defendant suggests that the case just cited is inconsistent with the prior decisions of this court in Cogel v. Raph, 24 Minn. 194, and O'Mulcahy v. Florer, 27 Minn. 449, 8 N. W. 166. This court never held that entry must be made under color of title — that is, a conveyance good on its face — in order that adverse possession may ripen into title. In neither of these cases was the question of title by adverse possession involved. In Cogel v. Raph it was merely held that, to make a tax deed prima facie evidence of title under the statute, it must be regular on its face. All that was decided in O'Mulcahy v. Florer was that a tax deed void on its face is not "color of title" within the meaning of the "occupying claimant's law" so as to entitle one who enters under it to recover for his improvements.


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