Southern Ry. Co. v. Cowan

Decision Date11 April 1901
Citation129 Ala. 577,29 So. 985
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Appeal from chancery court, Etowah county; Richard B. Kelly Chancellor.

Bill by C. R. Cowan against the Southern Railway Company to have deed conveying right of way over a homestead declared void, and for assessment of damages for the use of such right of way. Decree for complainant, and defendant appeals. Affirmed.

The facts averred in the original bill show that the complainant during his lifetime, was seised and possessed of 300 acres of land in Etowah county upon which he resided and made his home. That on August 12, 1886, while so residing upon said land, he executed a deed to one Printup, as president of the Rome & Decatur Railroad Company, conveying a strip of land not to exceed 100 feet in width from northeast to southwest across the said 300-acre tract, for the purpose of building and operating a railroad of said company across said land that at said time, the complainant, who was the grantor in said deed, was a married man, residing with his wife and family upon said lands, and that his wife did not join with him in said conveyance; that at the time of the execution of said deed, it was represented to the grantor that the line of railroad had been surveyed across said lands, and that the road would be built upon a certain line upon it pointed out to the complainant, and which was described in the bill; and that the deed was intended to convey the strip of land along the line then pointed out; but that said railroad company located and constructed its line of railroad at a different point. It was further averred in the bill that the Rome &amp Decatur Railroad Company built its railroad during the year 1886, and that said railroad company and its successors have been in possession of said strip of land ever since, operating a railroad through and upon it; that said strip of land occupied by the railroad is 100 feet wide; that the Rome & Decatur Railroad Company sold to the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railroad Company, and that the latter company sold to the Southern Railroad Company, the defendant in the present bill; that the defendant is now operating a railroad through and upon said strip of land. It was further averred in the bill that upon May 7, 1895, the complainant W. N. Cowan filed his declaration of claim of homestead in the office of the judge of probate of Etowah county, selecting and claiming out of the tract of 300 acres on which he resided, 160 acres, as a homestead; that the line of railroad in question was located across this 160 acres. It was also averred in the bill that the Rome & Decatur Railroad Company forcibly took possession of the strip of land different from that conveyed in the complainant's deed and built its railroad thereon.

The prayer of the bill was that the deed conveying the strip of land to the railroad company be declared null and void, and that a decree be rendered that the defendant and those under whom he claimed, wrongfully took possession of said lands, and that a reference be had to ascertain how much of the complainant's land had thus been appropriated, its value and the interest thereon; the damage to the balance of the land and the value of the use and occupation of said strip; and that the defendant be required to pay the aggregate of said several sums to the complainant, and that if the defendant fails or refuses to pay said sum, that an injunction be issued to restrain the defendant, its officers and agents, from operating the said railroad over, through and upon said strip of land, until the defendant pay or cause to be paid complainant's damages and cost of suit be ascertained. There was attached to the bill as Exhibit A the deed from W. N. Cowan to D. S. Printup, as president of the Rome & Decatur Railroad. This deed, after reciting that the Rome & Decatur Railroad was about to construct its railroad from Rome to Decatur, which was to pass through the S. 1/2 of section 9, township 11, and range 7, then continued as follows: "Now, in consideration that the said railroad of the said Rome and Decatur Railroad Company shall be built and for and in consideration of the sum of _____ dollars paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, W. N. Cowan, of the county of Etowah, state of Alabama, does hereby give, grant and convey unto D. S. Printup, president, etc., of the said R. & D. R. R. Co., his successors or assigns, in fee simple, a strip of land along such line as may be adopted by the said company, of sufficient width through said land, the premises afore described, conveniently to build said railroad, as well as all side tracks and turnouts, and necessary and sufficient for all purposes of keeping up and repairing the same, not to exceed fifty feet from the center of the main line to each side, making said strip not to exceed one hundred feet, full width, together with all the rights and appurtenances to said strip of land belonging to appertaining," etc.

Pending this bill, the complainant died. Thereupon, Catherine R. Cowan, as administratrix and widow of William N. Cowan, deceased, and A. J. Wilson, as administrator of the estate of said William N. Cowan, deceased, and the heirs at law of said William N. Cowan, filed a bill of revivor and supplement, on February 27, 1896, wherein the death of the original complainant was averred, and it was further averred that the lands, which had been set apart to the original complainant as a homestead, were duly set apart to Catherine R. Cowan, widow of the deceased, W. N. Cowan, as her homestead, under the statute; and that said lands were so set apart to her under proper proceedings of the probate court. It was then prayed in said bill of revivor and supplement that the said suit should stand revived in the name of the complainants in the bill of revivor and supplement, and that said suit should be carried on and prosecuted between the parties in like manner as it would have been between the parties to the original suit.

The bill was subsequently amended by averring that the estate of the decedent, William N. Cowan, exceeded in value and area the exemptions allowed by statute; and that the 160 acres set apart to the widow did not exceed $2,000, and it was set apart in regular proceedings in the probate court, these proceedings being averred in detail.

To the bill as revived, supplemented and amended, the defendant demurred, assigning many grounds thereof. From a decree sustaining several of the grounds of demurrer an appeal was prosecuted by this court. This decree was reversed, and the cause was remanded. After the remandment of the cause, the bill was further amended by striking out therefrom the names of the widow and heirs at law of said W. N. Cowan, deceased as parties complainant. To the bill as last amended, the defendant refiled the same grounds of demurrer which were formerly interposed, and moved the court to dismiss the bill for the want of equity. Upon the submission of the cause upon the demurrers to the amended bill and the motion to dismiss for the want of equity, the chancellor rendered a decree overruling said demurrer and motion. Thereupon the defendant filed its answer, in which it admitted that the deed which was adopted as an exhibit to the bill was a correct copy of the deed from W. N. Cowan to Printup, in which it conveyed the right of way to the Rome & Decatur Railroad; that at the time of the execution of said deed, W. N. Cowan resided with his family, upon the said lands; that the Rome & Decatur Railroad Company and its possessors have been in possession of said strip of land described in the original bill since the execution of the deed, operating its road over and upon it from Decatur to Attalla, Alabama. In said answer it is denied that any part of the lands through which the railroad ran was occupied as a homestead by W. N. Cowan and his family on August 12, 1886, and it was further averred in said answer that although W. N. Cowan had filed the paper writing seeking to claim the lands across which the railroad was constructed as a part of his homestead, the respondent denied that said claim could, in any way, affect its rights, and further denied that the claim to said lands as a homestead by Catherine R. Cowan, the widow of W. N. Cowan, in any wise, affected the respondent's rights to its right of way, and further denied that the construction of said road had damaged said lands in any respect as averred in said bill. As...

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14 cases
  • Boise Valley Const. Co. v. Kroeger
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • 11 Diciembre 1909
    ... ... etc. R. Co. v. Fechheimer, 36 Kan. 45, 12 P. 362; ... Knox v. R. Co., 58 Hun (N. Y. ), 517, 12 N.Y.S. 848; ... Southern Ry. Co. v. Hood, 126 Ala. 312, 85 Am. St ... 32, 28 So. 662; Cowan v. Ry. Co., 118 Ala. 554, 23 So. 754.) ... A land ... owner whose ... ...
  • Jefferson County v. Adwell
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • 30 Junio 1956
    ...before condemnation proceedings were instituted. See United States v. Goodloe, 204 Ala. 484, 86 So. 546. In Southern Railway Co. v. Cowan, 129 Ala. 577, 29 So. 985, 988, which was a bill in equity to have a deed conveying right of way declared null and void and for the assessment of damages......
  • McLemore v. Alabama Power Co.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • 10 Abril 1969
    ...the land was appropriated by the condemnor and on which it became precluded from abandoning the proceeding. Southern Railway Co. v. Cowan, supra (129 Ala. 577, 29 So. 985); Morton Butler Timber Co. v. United States, 6 Cir., 91 F.2d 884; Haig v. Wateree Power Company, 119 S.C. 319, 112 S.E. ......
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    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • 15 Mayo 1919
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