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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the commissioner of Indian affairs, for the year 1892
([1892])

Decision of Supreme Court on validity of Indian conveyances,   pp. 741-743 PDF (1.5 MB)


Page 741

SUPREME COURT ON INDIAN CONVEYANCES.                 741 
DECISION OF SUPREME COURT ON VALIDITY OF INDIAN CONVEY- 
ANCES. 
[Supreme Court of the United States, No. 342.-October Term, 1891. U.S. Reports,
vol. 145, p. 310.] 
Aquila H. Pickering, plaintiff in error, vs. John A. Lcmax et al., in error
to the 
Supreme Court of the State of Illinois. 
[May 16, 1892.] 
This was an action of ejectment brought by Pickering against John A. Lomax
and William Kolze to recover two parcels of land in Cook County, Ill., which
had originally been granted by the United States to certain Indians under
the 
treaty of Prairie du Chien of July 29, 1829. A jury was waived, the case
tried 
by the court, and a judgment rendered in favor of the defendants. The plaintiff
thereupon sued out a writ of error from the Supreme Court of Illinois, which
affirmed the judgment of the lower court. 
Upon the trial, in order to establish his title, the plaintiff offered in
evidence 
article 4 of the treaty of Prairie du Chien (7 Stat. 321), which, so far
as the same 
is material, reads as follows: 
"There shall be granted by the United States, to each of the following
persons, 
(being descendants from Indians,) the following triacts of land, viz: To
Claude 
Laframboise, one section of land on the Riviere aux Pleins, adjoining the
line 
of the purchase of 1816; * * * to Alexander Robinson, for himself and chil-
dren, two sections on the Riviere aux Pleins. above and adjoining the tract
herein 
granted to Claude Laframboise. * * * The tracts of land herein stipulated
to be granted, shall never be leased or conveyed by the grantees, or their
heirs, 
to any persons whatever, without the permission of the President of the United
States." 
Plaintiff then offered in evidence a copy of the patent issued December 28,
1843, 
signed by President Tyler, under the provisions of the above treaty, granting
the lands, including those in litigation, to Alexander Robinson for himself
and 
children. The patent also contained the provision: "iBut never to be
leased or 
conveyed by him, them, his or their heirs, to any person whatever, without
the 
permission of the President of the United States." 
The next instrument in plaintiff's chain of title was a decree in a suit
in par- 
tition instituted February 22, 1847, in the Cook County court of common pleas,
between Alexander Robinson and his children, and evidence to show that the
lands in question were set out to Joseph Robinson, one of the children. 
The following deeds were then put in evidence: 
Deed dated August 3, 1858, from Joseph Robinson and wife to John F. Horton,
which had indorsed upon it the approval of the President of the United States,
which approval was dated January 21, 1871. 
Deed from Leon Straus, administrator, etc., of the estate of John F. Horton,
deceased, to Moses W. Baer, dated October 6, 1863, and made in pursuance
of an 
order of sale by the county court of Cook County for payment of debts. 
Several intermediate conveyanc es of the premises, down to a deed dated No-
vember 10, 1866, from Henry H. Dyer and wife to Aquila H. Pickering, the
plaintiff. 
The defendant introduced no evidenc3, but at the close of the plaintiff's
case 
moved that the plaintiff's testimony be excluded, and the case dismissed,
upon 
the ground that the deed of August 3, 1858, from Joseph Robinson and wife
to 
John F. Horton was made in direct violation of the terms of the patent as
to ob- 
taining the approval of the President to the conveyance. 
This motion was sustained, the court being of the opinion that Robinson had
no authority to convey without obtaining the permission of the President
before- 
hand; that the subsequent sanction obtained by persons claiming title under
Robinson was invalid; and that even if such sanction would have the effect
of 
giving force to the deed, yet, as the grantee under that deed was dead, the
ad- 
ministrator's deed would not carry any title to the purchaser from the adminis-
trator, but that if any title accrued by reason of the sanction of the President
it 
would be to the heirs of Horton. 
Thereupon the court rendered judgmmnt for the defendent, which was affirmed
by the supreme court of Illinois (120 Iii., 293), and the plaintiff sued
out a writ 
of error from this court. 
Mr. Justice Brown delivered the opinion of the court: 


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