Rogers Locomotive Machine Works v. American Emigrant Co, No. 23

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHARLAN
Citation41 L.Ed. 552,164 U.S. 559,17 S.Ct. 188
Docket NumberNo. 23
Decision Date07 December 1896
PartiesROGERS LOCOMOTIVE MACHINE WORKS et al. v. AMERICAN EMIGRANT CO

164 U.S. 559
17 S.Ct. 188
41 L.Ed. 552
ROGERS LOCOMOTIVE MACHINE WORKS et al.

v.

AMERICAN EMIGRANT CO.

No. 23.
December 7, 1896.

[Syllabus from pages 559-561 intentionally omitted]

Page 561

The present suit was brought by the American Emigrant Company for the purpose of obtaining a decree quieting its title to certain lands in Calhoun county, Iowa. The plaintiff asserts title under the act of congress known as the 'Swamp Land Act of 1850' (9 Stat. 519, c. 84); the defendants, under the act of congress of May 15, 1856 (11 Stat. 9, c. 28), granting land to Iowa in aid of the construction of various railroads in that state, among others a railroad from Dubuque to Sioux City, with a branch from the mouth of Tete des Morts to the nearest point on that road.

The principal contention of the plaintiff is that the lands passed to the state under the act of 1850, and were not embraced by the railroad act of 1856.

A decree was passed adjudging the plaintiff to be the owner of some of the tracts described in its petition. As to other tracts the suit was dismissed. Upon appeal by the defendants to the supreme court of Iowa the decree was affirmed. 83 Iowa, 612, 50 N. W. 52. The present writ of error brings that decree before us for examination.

By the above act of September 28, 1850, all swamp and overflowed lands made unfit thereby for cultivation were granted to the respective states in which they were situated, that they might be reclaimed by the construction of the necessary levees and drains. By the second section of that act it was made the duty of the secretary of the interior, as soon as practicable after the passage of the act, to make out an accurate list and plats of such lands, and transmit the same to the governor of the state, and at the request of the latter 'cause a patent to be issued to the state therefor; and on that patent the fee simple to said lands shall vest in the said state'; the proceeds of the lands, whether from sale or by direct appropriation in kind, to be applied exclusively, as far as necessary, to the purpose of reclaiming the lands by means of the levees and drains. By the third section it was provided that 'in making out a list and plats of the land aforesaid all

Page 562

legal subdivisions, the greater part of which is 'wet and unfit for cultivation,' shall be included in said list and plats; but, when the greater part of a subdivision is not of that character, the whole of it should be excluded therefrom.' 9 Stat. 519.

The legislature of Iowa, by an act passed February 5, 1851, authorized the commissioner of the state land office to take steps necessary to secure to the state the lands granted by the above act. To that end, the commissioner, having reason to believe there were any tracts of swamp land within the state not reported as such by the United States surveyor, sufficient to justify a more particular examination, was to direct the county surveyor of any county in which the lands were located 'to make the examination, and provide the proofs necessary to secure such lands to the state, a list of which shall be returned to the land commissioner or the authority acting in that capacity, verified by affidavit,' etc. Laws Iowa, 1850-51, p. 169, c. 69.

By a subsequent statute of Iowa, passed January 13, 1853, the swamp and overflowed lands granted to the state by the act of 1850 were granted 'to the counties respectively in which the same may lie, or be situated, for the purpose of constructing the necessary levees and drains, to reclaim the same—and the balance of said lands, if any there be after the same are reclaimed as aforesaid, shall be applied to the building of roads and bridges, when necessary, through or across said lands, and if not needed for this purpose, to be expended in building roads and bridges within the county.' The same act provided that whenever 'it shall appear that any of the lands granted to the state by the aforesaid act of congress, shall have been sold by the United States since the passage of that act, it shall be lawful for the said counties to convey said lands to the purchasers thereof.' It also provided that in all the counties where the county surveyor had made no examination and report of the swamp lands within his county, in compliance with the instructions from the governor, the county court should appoint some competent person, who should proceed 'to examine said lands, and make due report, and plats, upon which the topography of the

Page 563

country shall be carefully noted, and the places where drains or levees ought to be made, marked on the said plats, to the county courts respectively, which courts shall transmit to the proper officers, lists of all said swamp lands in each of the counties in order to procure the proper recognition of the same, on the part of the United States, which lists, after an acknowledgment of the same by the general government, shall be recorded in a well-bound book provided for that purpose, and filed among the records of the county court.' Laws Iowa, 1852, p. 29, c. 12.

By an act passed January 25, 1855, the governor of Iowa was authorized and empowered to draw from the treasury of the United States all moneys arising from the disposition of the swamp lands of Iowa by the government of the United States. The same act provided: '(3) That the governor is hereby authorized to adopt such measures as to him may seem expedient, to provide for the selection of the swamp lands of this state, and to secure to the state the title to the same, and also for the selection in the name of the state, [of] other lands, in lieu of such swamp lands as may have been or may hereafter be entered with warrants: provided, that the provisions of this act shall not be construed to apply to any swamp lands which have already been selected by any organized county of this state under the provisions of any previous law: and provided further, that this act shall not be construed to impair the rights of the counties of this state to any swamp lands within said counties under the provisions of any law in force in relation to the same, and that the selections made by the organized counties shall be reported by the governor to the authority at Washington.' Laws Iowa, 1854-56, p. 261, c. 138; Revision Iowa 1860, p. 154, c. 47, art. 4.

By another act, also passed January 25, 1855, amendatory of the act of January 13, 1853, it was provided: 'Section 1. That no swamp or overflowed lands granted to the state, and situate in the present unorganized counties, shall be sold or disposed of till the title to said lands shall be perfected in the state, whereupon the title to said lands shall be transferred to the said counties where they are situated; provided, that

Page 564

said connties shall refund to the state the expenses incurred in selecting said lands, under the provisions of an act of the general assembly, authorizing the governor to cause said lands to be surveyed and selected, with ten per cent. interest thereon. Each county to refund its proportional amount of said expenses.' Laws Iowa, 1854-56, p. 173, c. 110; Revision Iowa 1860, p. 154, c. 47, art. 5.

It appears that in 1856 the county court of Calhoun county appointed Charles Amy to select and survey the swamp lands in that county, in accordance with the provisions of the above act of January 13, 1853.

This was after the passage by congress of the railroad act of May 15, 1856, granting lands to the state of Iowa to aid in the construction of certain railroads in that state. 11 Stat. 9, c. 28. By that act there was granted to Iowa, to aid in the construction of railroads, among them a railroad from Dubuque to Sioux City, with a branch, every alternate section of land, designated by odd numbers, for six sections in width on each side of the respective roads named by congress. If it appeared at the time the route of a road was definitely fixed that the United States had sold any of the sections or parts of sections granted, or that the right of preemption had attached to the same, then the state, 'subject to the approval of the secretary of the interior,' was entitled to select other lands nearest to the sections granted to supply the deficiency. But, it was declared: 'That any and all lands heretofore reserved to the United States, by any act of congress, or in any other manner by competent authority, for the purpose of aiding in any object of internal improvement, or for any other purpose whatsoever, be, and the same are hereby, reserved to the United States from the operation of this act, except so far as it may be found necessary to locate the routes of said railroads through such reserved lands, in which case the right of way only shall be granted, subject to the approval of the president of the United States.'

The above act of May 15, 1856, with its provisions and restrictions, was accepted by the state by an act approved July 14, 1856, and the lands, interests, rights, powers, and privileges

Page 565

granted by congress, so far as they related to the proposed road from Dubuque to Sioux City, were granted and transferred to the Dubuque & Pacific Railroad Company, to aid in the construction of its railroad and branch, subject to the conditions and incumbrances prescribed by congress. These lands were transferred to the railroad company upon the express condition that, if it did not complete and equip a given number of miles of its road within a named time, and its entire line on or before such certain date, then the state might resume all rights to the lands so granted and remaining undisposed of by the company. Revision Iowa 1860, p. 215, c. 55, art. 2.

By a supplementary act, passed January 28, 1857, the companies obtaining the benefits of the act of congress of 1856, and of the act of the Iowa legislature of July 14, 1856, were authorized to make such...

To continue reading

Request your trial
51 practice notes
  • Standard Oil Co. of California v. United States, No. 8985.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 2, 1940
    ...much so as is its identification by survey. Compare Wright v. Roseberry, supra; Rogers Locomotive Machine Works v. American Emigrant Co., 164 U.S. 559, 17 S.Ct. 188, 41 L.Ed. 552. In such cases the state's title remains imperfect or inchoate, Rogers Locomotive Machine Works v. American Emig......
  • Chi., St. P., M. & O. Ry. Co. v. Douglas Cnty.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • January 8, 1908
    ...21 Wall. (U. S.) 44, 22 L. Ed. 551;Calhoun County v. Am. Em. Co., 93 U. S. 124, 23 L. Ed. 826;Rogers Locomotive Works v. Am. Em. Co., 164 U. S. 559, 17 Sup. Ct. 188, 41 L. Ed. 552;Hackett v. Carter, 38 Wis. 394. Among other references the following cases were cited upon the part of the resp......
  • State ex rel. Town of Crescent City v. Holland
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 17, 1942
    ...Co. v. St. Francis Levee Dist., 232 U.S. 186, 34 S.Ct. 297, 58 L.Ed. 564; Rogers' Locomotive Machine Works v. American Emigrant Co., 164 U.S. 559, 17 S.Ct. 188, 41 L.Ed. 552; Byrne Realty Co. v. South Florida Farms Co., 81 Fla. 805, 89 So. 318; Everglades Sugar & Land Co. v. Bryan, 81 F......
  • Stroup v. Matthews, 4418
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • April 4, 1927
    ...371, 11 S.Ct. 808, 35 L.Ed. 428; Moore v. Robbins, 96 U.S. 530, 24 L.Ed. 848; Rogers Locomotive Machine Works v. American Emigrant Co., 164 U.S. 559, 17 S.Ct. 188, 41 L.Ed. 552; Chapman & Dewey Lbr. Co. v. St. Frances Levee Dist., 232 U.S. 186, 34 S.Ct. 297, 58 L.Ed. 564; Michigan Land ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
51 cases
  • Standard Oil Co. of California v. United States, No. 8985.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • January 2, 1940
    ...much so as is its identification by survey. Compare Wright v. Roseberry, supra; Rogers Locomotive Machine Works v. American Emigrant Co., 164 U.S. 559, 17 S.Ct. 188, 41 L.Ed. 552. In such cases the state's title remains imperfect or inchoate, Rogers Locomotive Machine Works v. American Emig......
  • Chi., St. P., M. & O. Ry. Co. v. Douglas Cnty.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • January 8, 1908
    ...21 Wall. (U. S.) 44, 22 L. Ed. 551;Calhoun County v. Am. Em. Co., 93 U. S. 124, 23 L. Ed. 826;Rogers Locomotive Works v. Am. Em. Co., 164 U. S. 559, 17 Sup. Ct. 188, 41 L. Ed. 552;Hackett v. Carter, 38 Wis. 394. Among other references the following cases were cited upon the part of the resp......
  • State ex rel. Town of Crescent City v. Holland
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 17, 1942
    ...Co. v. St. Francis Levee Dist., 232 U.S. 186, 34 S.Ct. 297, 58 L.Ed. 564; Rogers' Locomotive Machine Works v. American Emigrant Co., 164 U.S. 559, 17 S.Ct. 188, 41 L.Ed. 552; Byrne Realty Co. v. South Florida Farms Co., 81 Fla. 805, 89 So. 318; Everglades Sugar & Land Co. v. Bryan, 81 F......
  • Stroup v. Matthews, 4418
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • April 4, 1927
    ...371, 11 S.Ct. 808, 35 L.Ed. 428; Moore v. Robbins, 96 U.S. 530, 24 L.Ed. 848; Rogers Locomotive Machine Works v. American Emigrant Co., 164 U.S. 559, 17 S.Ct. 188, 41 L.Ed. 552; Chapman & Dewey Lbr. Co. v. St. Frances Levee Dist., 232 U.S. 186, 34 S.Ct. 297, 58 L.Ed. 564; Michigan Land ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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