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Opinion of the Court.
and identified the trees called for in the field notes. From this point, following the line back N. 20° E., he found the line plainly marked with old blazes for 26,400 varas, (the length called for in the field notes,) crossing Big Elm or Cow Creek at the exact distance from the S. E. corner required by the field notes; and proceeding onward about 560 varas further, on the same course, he found two small hackberries in Cow Creek bottom, at which point, as he testifies, the line gave out. The line passed between these hackberries, and they were each marked on the inside with old blazes facing each other. He took those hackberries to be the identical ones called for in the grant, and fixed upon that point as the northeast corner of the survey. This is the point which the plaintiff claims to be the true northeast corner, and is marked C' in the sketch. A line run from this point N. 70° W., the reverse of the line called for in the survey, would be the line B' C' on the map, and would fall to the south of the plaintiff's land. But B', the point at which this line would intersect the west line of the survey, would be only about 18,700 varas from the beginning corner, instead of 22,960 varas, as called for in the field notes, or a deficiency of over 4000 varas.
On the other hand, if the field notes are followed, by running the first line from the S. W. corner, N. 22° E., 22,960 varas, and the second line thence S. 70 E., 12,580 varas, the upper line, BC, would be followed, .but the distance, 12,580 varas, would fall short of the eastern line at C by about 570 varas, the true distance from B to C being 13,150 varas instead of 12,580. Then, running from C to D, the whole distance is found to be about 30,400 varas instead of 26,400 (as called for in the grant), or about 4000 too much ; and the distance from C to Cow Creek is found to be 7500 or 8000 varas, instead of 3520, as called for in the field notes, or 4000 too much. So that the northeast corner of the tract, as fixed by Bigham at the two hackberries, corresponds very nearly with the several distances called for on the east line, but makes the west line 4000 varas too short; whilst the northeast corner, as fixed by running the west line its full length as called for by the field notes, and then running the north line as directed therein, and
Opinion of the Court.
extending it so as to meet the easterly line, makes the easterly line 4000 varas too long.
The truth is, the original survey must in some parts have been inperfectly executed, or errors must have crept into the field notes. Frank W. Johnson was the surveyor - long well known as principal surveyor of the Austin and Williams colony.. His deposition was taken in 1878, and again in 1880, forty-five and forty-seven years after the survey was made. He does not say what time of the year he made the survey, but William Duty, his chain-bearer, says it was in the spring. Both
say that it was made in 1833, and was never made but once. Johnson is positive that he followed the courses and distances designated in the field notes of the grant for the first two lines, but that the last line, the easterly one of the tract, though run and marked, was not measured, but only estimated as jo length or distance. But the field notes give the distance from the N. E. corner to Cow Creek 3520 varas, and from the N. E. corner to the San Andres River 26,400 varas, which would make the distance from Cow Creek to the San Andres 22,880 varas, which, by subsequent surveys, is found to be precisely accurate. This correspondence for such a long distance (over 12 miles) could hardly have been the result of conjecture; and the evidence of the chain-bearer is, that the easterly line, as well as the westerly and northerly lines, was actually measured by chaining. If this was so, (and it was for the jury to determine whether it was or not,) the judge was entirely right in charging that the footsteps of the original surveyor might be traced backward as well as forward ; and that any ascertained monument in the survey might be adopted as a starting point for its recovery. This is always true where the whole survey has been actually run and 'measured, and ascertained monuments are referred to in it. Ayers v. Harris, 64 Texas, 296; Ayers v. Lancaster, 64 Texas, 305; Scott v. Pettigrew, 72 Texas, 321.
On the question of the true location of the northern boundary line of the Moreno grant, evidence was adduced by both parties. The defendant showed by surveyors who had recently gone over the lines that there were old marked trees in the
Opinion of the Court.
north line of the survey claimed by him, and that the easterly line was continued to that line by old marked trees extending northerly from the two hackberries discovered by Bigham. The plaintiff, in rebuttal, adduced evidence to show that by blocking these trees the marks and blazes relied on were found to be of comparatively recent origin not more than 18 or 20 years old in 1886.
Duty, the chain-bearer, who was examined several times on the subject, and contradicted himself a good deal, on his last examination, taken by deposition in 1886, testified that the two hackberries found by Bigham, and established by him as the northeast corner, appeared to him (Duty) to be in a location like that where the northeast corner was established in 1833, and that the northeast corner, as claimed by the defendant, is in a location entirely different from that in which said corner was established in the original survey. He also said that the corner was made, not in the 'prairie, but in the bottom timber, and that he does not think that the corner is a hundred varas from the place claimed by the plaintiff.
The testimony of this witness is not entitled to much weight, but, being corroborated by the existence of the two hackberries discovered by Bigham, and by the distances from that point to Cow Creek and to the San Andres River, it may be regarded as not so entirely worthless as to be absolutely rejected. The testimony of several other witnesses, including surveyors, was taken to show the situation of the different lines and points named in the grant, and of the condition of the marked trees claimed by the respective parties to be indicative of the true location..
In addition to the two hackberries, relied on by the plaintiff as fixing the position of the N. E. corner and the northerly line of the Moreno survey, he contended that the respective distances of the creeks and water-courses, called for by the field notes on said line, corresponded with the actual distances found on the line run from said hackberries, and did not correspond with the actual distances found on the line claimed by the defendant. . To show this more clearly, the plaintiff offered in evidence a certified copy of certain field notes in a
Opinion of the Court.
field book on file in the General Land Office of Texas, as the original English field notes of the Moreno survey made by Frank W. Johnson. In his deposition, Johnson had testified that his field notes of the survey were made in English, and reported to the empressario, and by him transcribed and translated into Spanish, and thus carried into the title. C. W. Pressler, chief draughtsman of the General Land Office, testified that these field notes were claimed to have been made by Johnson. DeBray, Spanish clerk in the land office, testified that he had heard Johnson claim that this field book was written by him. There was also a map or sketch of old surveys, including the Moreno survey, bound up in an atlas, regarded as the work of Johnson, and which had been in the General Land Office as far back as the witnesses had knowledge of it. Pressler testified that it was claimed by Johnson to have been filed by him, and that he (Pressler) had known it to have been in the land office since December, 1850, and that the words and figures on it resembled Johnson's handwriting. A certified copy of this map, and the said certified copy of the original field notes of the Moreno eleven-league surrey, as also a photographic copy of the latter, were admitted in evidence against the objection of the defendant.
The following is a copy of the field notes referred to:
“Sunday, 21st, surveyed for Samuel Sawyer 11 leagues of land, beginning on the N. side of San Andres, opposite the mouth of Lampasas, at a pecan 18 in. diam., bearing N. 59 W.- vs. from a backberry 24 in. and S. 34 W. 15.2 vs. from an elm 12 in.; thence N. 22 E. 22,960 vs. to the corner, a stake in the prairie; thence S. 70 E. 1690 vrs. to a branch of Cow Creek, 4500 vrs. to 2nd branch, 8000 vrs. to 3rd branch, 11,060 vis. to Cow Creek, 12,580 vrs. to the corner, two small hackberries; thence S. 20 W. 3520 yrs. to Cow Creek; 7500 to N. W. corner of 2nd tract, a stake bearing N. 77 E. 93.3 yrs. from a hackberry 8 in. to Spring branch 23,640 vrs., 23,700 vs.; to bottom prairie 24,360 vs.; crossed same branch to the corner, a box elder, 26,400 vs., 'bearing S. 48 W. 7.2 vs. from a forked cottonwood 48 in., and S. 11 E. 16.4 vrs. from an elm 15 in.”
Opinion of the Court.
These are evidently the field notes of the same survey that was carried into the grant. It seems that it was made for one Sawyer, and afterwards used for the Moreno grant, which was not issued until October, 1833. Duty, the chain-bearer, says the survey was made in the spring of that year; and the 21st of April came on Sunday in the year 1833. These notes are more full than the field notes in the grant, as they call for four streams crossing the north line, whilst the grant mentions only two of them. The four are as follows : 1690 varas from the N. W.corner to a branch of Cow Creek ; 4500 varas to a second branch; 8000 varas to a third branch ; 11,060 varas to the Cow Creek itself. The witness Turner, for many years county surveyor of Bell County, who was employed by the defendant to trace the eastern and northern lines of the Moreno grant in 1880, testifies that by running the north line westerly from the two backberries the first stream is reached at the distance called for in the field notes; that the distance between the first and second is also right; between the second and third the distance is too great; but between the third and fourth, and between the fourth stream and the N. W. corner (as claimed by the plaintiff), the distances agree with the field notes; – whilst the north line, as claimed by the defendant, crosses only three creeks, and none of them are in any way near the distances called for in any of the field notes. As rivers and streams are natural monuments, entitled to weight in any survey, it is manifest that these English field notes of Johnson must bave had an important bearing in the trial.
The map or sketch, as before observed, contained an outline of the Moreno eleven-league tract, and of the streams which traverse it, with notes in Spanish of the courses and distances of the different lines. These notes begin with the easterly line, which is described as “Norte. 20° Este, 26,400," (N. 20° E. 26,400). The north line is partially obliterated, but enough of the notation remains to show that it was measured from east to west. The west line is described as “18,400 Sur 22° Oeste,” [i.e. 18,400 S. 22° W.]. This shows that the length of the west line was therein made what it should be to correspond with the length of the east line as called for in all the surveys,