Winstead v. Woolard, 29.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
Citation28 S.E.2d 507,223 N.C. 814
Docket NumberNo. 29.,29.
PartiesWINSTEAD et al. v. WOOLARD et al.
Decision Date12 January 1944

223 N.C. 814
28 S.E.2d 507

WOOLARD et al.

No. 29.

Supreme Court of North Carolina.

Jan. 12, 1944.

Appeal from Superior Court, Beaufort County; C. Everett Thompson, Judge.

Action by Mamie E. Winstead and others against James T. Woolard and wife and others to be let into possession of certain lands as tenants in common with named defendant. Judgment for defendants, and plaintiffs appeal.


Civil action to be let into possession of certain lands as tenants in common with defendant James T. Woolard, who pleads sole seizin by reason of (1) alleged valid deed, (2) by possession under color for seven years, G.S. § 1-38, formerly C.S. § 428, and (3) by adverse possession for twenty years, G.S. § 1-40, formerly C.S. § 430.

The parties, having waived jury trial and agreed that the court should find the facts and render judgment thereon, the court, after hearing the testimony and argument of counsel, finds facts summarily stated as follows:

1. On January 22, 1909, Kalite Woolard, then owner in fee and in possession of that certain tract of land described in the complaint, and his wife, Martha E. Woolard, executed and delivered to their

[28 S.E.2d 508]

son the defendant James T. Woolard, a deed of gift conveying said land, reserving "for themselves an estate for the term of their natural lives" in the same, which deed of gift was registered on November 16, 1918, in office of Register of Deeds of Beaufort County, North Carolina.

2. From the date of the execution of said deed until the death of Kalite Woolard in 1925, Martha E. Woolard having predeceased him, "the said Kalite Woolard and the said James T. Woolard were in exclusive adverse possession of the said tract of land".

3. Since the death of Kalite Woolard "the said James T. Woolard, claiming to own the land by virtue of the foregoing deed, has been in open, notorious, exclusive and adverse possession of said tract of land, living in the house on said land, cultivating crops thereon, and listing it for taxes, executing the deeds of trust set out in the record, and several chattel mortgages".

The petitioners are lineal descendants of Kalite Woolard, deceased, and instituted this action on October 15, 1942.

Upon the foregoing facts the court, being of opinion that plaintiffs are not tenants with defendants James T. Woolard et al, in and to said land, entered judgment that plaintiffs take nothing by this action and that defendants go without day and recover their costs. Plaintiffs appeal therefrom to Supreme Court and assign error.

H. S. Ward, of Washington, for plaintiffs-appellants.

E. A. Daniel, of Washington, for defendants-appellees.

WINBORNE, Justice.

Appellants, in the characteristic original style of their eminent counsel, state this as the question presented on this appeal: "Father of six children made deed of gift to one, reserving life estate; registered nine years after execution; father and grantee in exclusive and joint possession until father's death less than twenty years before the beginning of this action by other five children to be declared tenants in common". And speaking thereto arguendo their counsel says:

"Plaintiffs have been told that a deed of gift must be registered within two years from its execution and upon failure of such registration within such time, is void. C.S. § 3315 and Booth v. Hairston, 193 N. C. 278, 279, 136 S.E. 879, 57 A.L.R. 1186.

"They have been told, and are here contending, that it takes twenty years' adverse possession by a tenant in common to oust the co-tenants, and that seventeen years will not do it. Gilchrist v. Middleton, 107 N.C. 663, 12 S.E. 85; Roscoe v. John L. Roper Lbr. Co., 124 N.C. 42, 32 S.E. 389; Conkey v. John L. Roper Lbr. Co., 126 N. C. 499, 36 S.E. 42.

"They contend here that the deed of gift was void after January 22, 1911, and that when Kalite Woolard, their father, died, this land descended to them and their brother, J. T., the grantee in common * * * "

The statute and decisions cited indicate that plaintiffs "have been told" the law aright, which when applied to facts in hand, as comprehensively recited in question involved, lends support to their contentions.

A deed of gift of any estate of any nature if not proven in due form and registered...

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