Sprinkle v. Spainhour

Decision Date19 November 1908
Citation62 S.E. 910,149 N.C. 223
CourtNorth Carolina Supreme Court

Appeal from Superior Court, Forsyth County; W. B. Council, Judge.

Petition for dower by Mary Jane Sprinkle against Mattie V. Spainhour and others. Judgment for defendants. Plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.

The court upon the facts admitted gave judgment against the plaintiff, who appealed. The facts are stated in the opinion of the court by Justice Brown.

Where on voluntary partition of lands between heirs of whom a married woman was one, a deed was made to her and her husband and her heirs, the fact that he paid part of the owelty did not create a resulting trust in his favor, to the extent of the money advanced as the law presumes he intended it as a benefit or gift to his wife.

Benbow & Hall, for appellant.

Watson Buxton & Watson, for appellees.


The plaintiff claims dower as the widow of J. H. Sprinkle, having been his second wife. The defendants claim the land as the heirs at law of S.E. V. Sprinkle, the first wife of J. H Sprinkle.

The land in controversy was the property of Washington Payne and descended to his heirs at law, S.E. V. Sprinkle, P. W. Payne, and others. These heirs at law, on the same day, January 12, 1887, executed deeds to each other. These deeds were evidently executed to effect a voluntary partition of the land, and, while inartificially drawn, they were not intended to change the character of the estate of the heirs of Washington Payne in the lands inherited from him. Harrison v. Ray, 108 N.C. 215, 12 S.E. 993, 11 L. R. A. 722, 23 Am. St. Rep. 57. It was evidently not the purpose of the parties to divest the fee simple of S.E. V. Sprinkle and vest it in her husband.

The plaintiff claims dower in the land described in the deed to J. H. and E. V. S. Sprinkle upon the theory that it is a deed made to husband and wife after marriage, that they became tenants by entireties, and that upon the death of the wife the entire fee vested in the husband by survivorship. There would be more plausibility in the position if the estate conveyed to the husband and wife were the same; but the language of the deed both in the premise and in the habendum conveys the land "to J. H. Sprinkle and wife, S.E. V Sprinkle, and S.E. V. Sprinkle's heirs." These words effectuated the plain intention of the parties that, if the husband survived the wife, he should enjoy the land for his life, and afterwards it should go to her heirs. That is the disposition the law would have made of it had the deed never been made and the wife had died intestate before the husband, having had children by him born alive. It is not an unprecedented method of conveying land that in the same instrument a joint estate should be created in two and the fee vested in one only. It was recognized at common law. "If lands be given to two, and to the heirs of one of them, this is a good jointure, and the one hath a freehold and the other a fee simple, and if he which hath the fee dieth, he which hath the freehold shall have the entirety by survivor for term of his life." Coke on Littleton,§§ 285, 191; Butler's Note 78; 2 Cruise, 510, 511; 1 Washburn on Real Property, 648, and cases cited; Den v. Hardenburg, 10 N. J....

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