Storz v. Clarke, 25915.

CourtSupreme Court of Nebraska
Citation221 N.W. 101,117 Neb. 488
Docket NumberNo. 25915.,25915.
Decision Date08 October 1928

117 Neb. 488
221 N.W. 101


No. 25915.

Supreme Court of Nebraska.

Oct. 8, 1928.

Syllabus by the Court.

A homestead of a married person cannot be conveyed or incumbered unless the instrument by which it is conveyed or incumbered is executed and acknowledged by both husband and wife.

Upon the facts stated in the opinion it was held that Myrta E. Clarke was in no manner estopped to contest the validity of the instrument in suit, and that as to, and the extent of, the homestead interest of herself and husband embraced in the premises therein described such instrument was void.

At the time the instrument in suit was delivered the record title to the premises involved and described therein was in the name of Henry S. Clarke, Jr. The premises were occupied as the home of Clarke and wife. The plaintiff and those represented by him accepted the conveyance in good faith, relying on the record title, and in ignorance of an unrecorded deed conveying the premises from Clarke to his wife. Held, under these circumstances, the fact that Myrta E. Clarke, the wife, was, together with her husband, in joint occupancy of the premises as a family home, did not impart to the plaintiff and his associates notice of the fact that she claimed any title to the property or any interest therein other than right of homestead, and such rights as would vest in her by virtue of her husband's ownership, as evidenced by the record title.

The statutory homestead, as between mortgagors and mortgagee of a real estate mortgage, invalid as to homestead interests of the mortgagors included therein, is unlimited as to value and is properly described as a “quantity of land not exceeding 160 acres, * * * not included in any incorporated town, city or village, or * * * a quantity of * * * land, not exceeding in amount two lots, being within an incorporated town, city or village.”

Appeal from District Court, Douglas County; Charles Leslie, Judge.

Action by Gottlieb Storz, trustee, against Henry S. Clarke and Myrta E. Clarke, wherein Burdette Kelley, as receiver of the First National Bank of Torrington, intervened. From the decree, defendant last named appeals, and intervener cross-appeals. Reversed and remanded, with directions.

[221 N.W. 101]

E. M. Morsman, Jr., of Omaha, for appellant.

Keller & Keller, of Omaha, for intervener Kelley.

Smith, Schall, Wright & Sheehan, of Omaha, for appellee.

Heard before GOSS, C. J., ROSE, DEAN, GOOD, THOMPSON, and EBERLY, JJ., and LANDIS, District Judge.

[221 N.W. 102]


This is an action in equity commenced in the district court for Douglas county, Nebraska, by Gottlieb Storz, trustee, plaintiff, against Henry S. Clarke, Jr., and Myrta E. Clarke, husband and wife, and other defendants named. The purpose of the proceeding was to foreclose as a mortgage a certain warranty deed purporting to have been executed by the Clarkes and to convey to plaintiff trustee lots 13, 14, 15 and 16, in block 13, West End addition to the city of Omaha, Nebraska, and also that part of the alley vacated between lot 13 and lots 14, 15 and 16, which, together with other securities, were delivered, accompanied by a letter signed by Henry S. Clarke, Jr., alone, and which set forth that the securities accompanying the letter were to be by such trustee “held in trust for the benefit and use of B. F. Marshall, G. Storz, E. F. Folda, E. P. Meyers, O. H. Barmettler and A. W. Gordon, to protect against any loss that may accrue to them by reason of a guaranty,” etc. It is alleged in the petition that this instrument, though in the form of a warranty deed, was delivered to the plaintiff as security for any payments which plaintiff and certain associates named in the petition might be compelled to make because of the execution by them of a certain guaranty in writing described therein as being for the benefit of Henry S. Clarke, Jr., and others. The amount of such payments which the beneficiaries named in this instrument were compelled to make, which were admitted by all parties, was also set forth in the petition as follows:

“That * * * this plaintiff and those for whom he held said deed in trust as security * * * paid, and caused to be paid, were required to pay and did pay * * * the sum of $52,728.79, in full payment, * * * which amount was included” in said guaranty.

In addition thereto there is contained in this pleading the usual allegations and prayer.

It seems the Clarkes answered separately; that one Burdette Kelley, as receiver of the First National Bank of Torrington, Wyoming, said to be claiming under a judgment rendered against defendant Myrta E. Clarke for $19,540 on May 27, 1926, intervened.

Certain cross-petitions and answers by other defendants, not necessary to the discussion of the questions controlling in this case, were filed, and plaintiff joined issues by filing the necessary replies.

Trial was had to the court, and at the conclusion of this hearing a decree was entered which, so far as necessary to be considered here, may be summarized as follows: Determined the amount expended by plaintiff and associates as necessitated by the terms of the written guaranty which had been executed by them for which the instrument in suit was given to secure, and that no part of such sum had been repaid; that the instrument in suit, though in the form of a deed, was given as security and should be treated as a mortgage; that the real estate involved in suit was, at the time of the execution and delivery of plaintiff's deed, occupied by Henry S. Clarke, Jr., and his wife, with their family, as a homestead; that the record title to said property was in the name of Henry S. Clarke, Jr., but that prior thereto and on or about November 12, 1920, said Henry S. Clarke, Jr., executed and delivered to Myrta E. Clarke, his wife, a deed conveying to her said premises, but which deed was unrecorded at the time of execution and delivery of the deed to Gottlieb Storz, and was not recorded until December 1, 1924; that the guarantors in whose behalf the plaintiff sues had no knowledge of the existence of the deed from Henry S. Clarke, Jr., to Myrta E. Clarke, until after the deed, filed by Henry S. Clarke, Jr., and Myrta E. Clarke to plaintiff had been accepted by him and recorded.

The district court further found that, at the time Myrta E. Clarke signed the deed in controversy here, it was in blank except as to the printed portion thereof; that she did not give Henry S. Clarke, Jr., authority to fill in the blanks above her signature, but that she knew and understood a mortgage was to be executed by Henry S. Clarke, Jr., and herself, and delivered to Gottlieb Storz, trustee, as security for any loss that the guarantors might sustain on account of the guaranty herein mentioned; that Henry S. Clarke, Jr., subsequently filled out the blank form by writing in a description of the property, signed the same, and his acknowledgment was taken thereto by a notary public in his office, but that said deed was not acknowledged before the notary public by Myrta E. Clarke; also that when said deed was delivered to Gottlieb Storz by Henry S. Clarke, Jr., it did not contain the name of the grantee, but that accompanying the deed was written authority, signed by said Henry S. Clarke, Jr., alone, authorizing Gottlieb Storz to write in his name as grantee in such deed, which was complied with; that said instrument did not in any manner affect a $2,000 homestead interest in the premises vested in Myrta E. Clarke, but that the Clarkes are estopped from in any manner otherwise challenging the legality of the deed (except as to homestead), and that the plaintiff is entitled by reason thereof to have a first lien on the premises for the amount of payments made pursuant to the terms of the guaranty, but subject to a $2,000 homestead in said property belonging to the defendants Clarke. The priority of the liens claimed by the other defendants are determined, and the decree of foreclosure was entered as above indicated. Myrta E. Clarke appeals. Receiver Kelley now appears here as a cross-appellant.

As an appeal in equity the case here is for trial de novo. Preliminary to the consideration

[221 N.W. 103]

of the questions before us, and as a background in connection with the disputed questions of fact and law to be hereafter considered, it may be said in passing: That the record in this case discloses that this litigation finds its source in the Corn Exchange National Bank of Omaha, Nebraska; that during its active career this institution was popularly known as a “cattle bank,” which signifies that it was largely devoted to financing western cattlemen; that Henry S. Clarke, Jr., entered its service as one of the managing officers in the spring of 1922, and previous to this time this institution had never declared a dividend upon its stock; that at the time Clarke entered its service he was part owner of, and exercised practical control of, six state and national banks, situated in the “cattle country” in western Nebraska and Wyoming, known as the “Clarke banks.” These banks were also largely interested in financing the cattle industry.

It was largely because of these connections that Clarke's services were secured by the Omaha institution. After Clarke became connected with the Corn Exchange National Bank the Clarke banks, it appears, were operated as “feeders” for that institution. The new relation proved lucrative to both. In addition to this line of banks, other like connections were made with similar institutions. Under the new system the deposits of the Omaha institution were increased; it commenced the payment of dividends which, as time passed, were substantially increased and for many years its earnings aggregated in the neighborhood of 20 per cent. per annum. This business involved carrying and handling large lines of paper from the western banks, for under the new policy the Omaha institution secured the patronage of many other...

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5 cases
  • Troyer v. Mundy, 9459.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • September 7, 1932
    ...of the homestead from one spouse to the other does not require that they both execute and acknowledge the instrument. Storz v. Clarke, 117 Neb. 488, 221 N. W. 101; Ambler v. Jones, 102 Neb. 40, 165 N. W. 886; Anderson v. Schertz, 94 Neb. 390, 143 N. W. 238; Anderson v. Cusack, 115 Neb. 643,......
  • Clements v. Doak, 31116.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • July 25, 1941
    ...90 Neb. 386, 133 N.W. 410;McParland v. Peters, 87 Neb. 829, 128 N.W. 523;Richards v. Smith, 88 Neb. 444, 129 N.W. 983;Storz v. Clarke, 117 Neb. 488, 221 N.W. 101;26 A.L.R. 1552, 1553. However, this defendant contends that the deed had validity after it was recorded and that the mortgagee wa......
  • Clements v. Doak, 31116
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • July 25, 1941
    ...90 Neb. 386, 133 N.W. 410; McParland v. Peters, 87 Neb. 829, 128 N.W. 523; Richards v. Smith, 88 Neb. 444, 129 N.W. 983; Storz v. Clarke, 117 Neb. 488, 221 N.W. 101; 26 A. L. R. 1552, 1553. However, this defendant contends that the deed had validity after it was recorded and that the mortga......
  • First Trust Co. of Lincoln v. Bauer, 29243.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • April 11, 1935
    ......Storz v. Clarke, 117 Neb. 488, 221 N. W. 101;Norfolk State Bank v. Schwenk, 51 Neb. 146, 70 N. W. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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