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Opinion of the Court.
and, so far as it goes, is evidence of a survey beginning at the southeast corner and running north, and then west, and then south, the reverse of the course which Johnson says he pursued. When it is recollected that his testimony was given forty-five years after the survey was made, and that the field notes, which he undoubtedly had regard to, may have been written out in reverse order after the outdoor work was done, the fact that this old map or sketch exhibits a survey entirely consistent in all its parts, which the field notes do not, gives it considerable interest and value as independent evidence.
The admission of the field notes and map is one of the errors assigned on the present hearing; and the question of their admissibility will be now considered. These very field notes were admitted in evidence in a recent case in Texas, in an action between the appellant Ayers, as plaintiff, and Harris and others, defendants, and their admission was sanctioned by the Supreme Court of Texas on appeal. Ayers v. Harris, 77 Texas, 108. The court, in its opinion, says:
“The evidence, we think, places it beyond doubt that the survey mentioned in the field book as made for Samuel Sawyer was a survey of the same land that was titled to Maximo Moreno, and the only survey that was ever made of it. It cannot be doubted, upon this evidence, that Johnson having made the survey for Sawyer a few months before, adopted it when ordered to make a survey for Moreno, without making a resurvey.
“The memorandum made by him at the time of the survey and deposited in the General Land Office at the same time that the title itself was deposited there, and carefully preserved ever since, is spoken of by its custodians and produced as an archive. In the case of Cook v. Dennis, 61 Texas, 248, a similar document was spoken of by this court as an archive and held to be admissible in evidence.
“Even if it cannot strictly be held an archive of the General Land Office and admissible as such, it was clearly proved in this case to be a memorandum of the survey made by the surveyor at the time the work was done, and as such we think it was clearly admissible to aid in proving the actual footsteps of the surveyor when making the survey.
Opinion of the Court.
“Very great difficulty existed in ascertaining where the lines of the survey were actually run. Aided by all the evidence that could be secured, and guided by all the rules recognized as being proper to be observed in such cases, repeated trials of the question have been had with conflicting results.
“It is a well recognized rule that the declarations of the surveyor may be proved under the circumstances existing at the time of the trial of this cause. Such evidence can certainly rank no higher and cannot be so safe or satisfactory as evidence written down by the surveyor at the time. The only difference that we can see between the field notes taken from the field book and those contained in the title is with regard to the number and distances of some of the objects called for, and we think the notes contained in the field book could not have had any other tendency than to aid in showing where the north line of the Moreno survey was actually placed by the surveyor.
“The photographic copy was admissible for what it was worth on the question as to whether the west line of the survey was actually measured.
“The charge requested and refused would have tended to destroy the effect of the evidence.” pp. 114, 115.
By reference to the case of Cook v. Dennis, (61 Texas, 246,) cited in the above quotation, it seems that similar evidence in all respects was received in that case, and its admission approved by the Supreme Court. The court said:
To aid in the identification of the land, appellant offered to read as evidence a certified copy of the original field notes of the survey. It seems that these field notes were made out in the English language, and passed to the commissioner for extending grants; that they were translated into the Spanish language, and, as thus translated, were incorporated into the grant. The courses and distances along the meanders of the river, as given in the original, were omitted in the translation. Therefore, it was to supply the omission and to aid the grant that the certified copy was offered in evidence. These original field notes were archives in the general land office, and would ordinarily be admissible in aid of the grant. But the objections urged in this case, and upon
Opinion of the Court.
which the court acted in excluding the evidence, were these : The survey was made some five months prior to extending the grants, and was made prior to the order of survey. At that early period, the practice of making the survey, and afterwards obtaining the order of survey, generally prevailed. While such proceedings might not have been strictly reg. ular, such irregularity has never been considered as affecting the validity of the survey or the grant based thereon. The commissioner for extending grants having recognized the survey by extending the grant, it was not a valid objection to the admission of the certified copy that the survey was made before the order of survey, and previous to extending the grant. This rejected evidence would, to some extent at least, tend to establish the identity of the land embraced in the grant, and ought to have been admitted.” pp. 247, 248.
It thus appears that these original field notes deposited in the General Land Office, though not forming a part of the documentary title, are nevertheless regarded by the Supreme Court of Texas as competent evidence for the purpose of aiding the grant in regard to the identification and boundaries of the granted premises. Courts have always been liberal in receiving evidence with regard to boundaries which would not be strictly competent in the establishment of other facts. Old surveys, perambulation of boundaries, even reputation, are constantly received on the question of boundaries of large tracts of land. The declarations of surveyors made at the time of making a survey have been admitted; and at all events, it seems to be now a recognized rule of the land law of Texas that field notes of surveyors, especially if deposited in the General Land Office, are to be received as evidence on this subject. If we had any hesitation on the admissibility of such evidence as a general question, we should be largely influenced in the present case by the decisions of the Supreme Court of the State. In our opinion, therefore, the admission of this evidence was not error. In this country a liberal rule on the subject has been adopted in most of the States. The point was considerably discussed by Mr. Justice Lamar in delivering the opinion of the court in Clement v. Packer, 125 U. S. 309,
Opinion of the Court.
a case arising in Pennsylvania, in which, in view of the law prevailing in that State, we held that the declarations of a deceased surveyor, whilst making a survey, were admissible to identify a monument pointed out by him as a corner of the same survey, established in making the original survey many years before, in which he had participated. In Hunnicutt v. Peyton, a Texas case, 102 U. S. 333, we held that by the decisions of that State such declarations, to be admissible, must be made on the spot whilst running or pointing out the line, or doing something with regard to it, and not at a different place, where it was only spoken of incidentally. Mr. Justice Strong, however, who delivered the opinion in that case, showed that the Texas decisions had gone the length of admitting the evidence of declarations of a deceased surveyor, whilst making a survey of the tract in question, and of a deceased chain-bearer who had pointed out to the witness the place of
See the subject quite fully discussed by Mr. Justice Field, when Chief Justice of California, in Morton v. Folger, 15 California, 275, 279, 282. But the recent decisions of the Supreme Court of Texas, above cited, are sufficient to control our views in the present case.
The evidence being concluded, the judge delivered his charge, and the jury rendered a verdict for the plaintiff. Before examining the errors assigned in relation to the charge and refusals to charge as requested, the third assignment of error may be disposed of. This was the refusal of the court to grant a new trial. And as to this, we have only to repeat what we have so often endeavored to impress upon counsel, that error does not lie for granting or refusing a new trial.
Although no errors are expressly assigned on argument upon the charge itself, but only upon the refusal of the judge to give certain instructions asked for by the defendant, yet in order to show the general view of the case which was taken by the judge, and the bearing of the instructions asked and refused, we give below the principal portion of the charge actually given. The judge said:
“Our purpose and your duty is to follow the tracks of the surveyor, so far as we can discover them on the ground with
Opinion of the Court.
reasonable certainty, and where he cannot be tracked on the ground we have to follow the course and distance be gives, so far as not in conflict with the tracks we can find that he made; and you will constantly bear in mind, in considering the proof in this case, that in fixing the boundaries of a grant the rule requires that course shall control distance as given in the calls of the field notes of the survey, and that marked trees, designating a corner or a line on the ground, shall control both course and distance. In order to reconcile or elucidate the calls of a survey in seeking to trace it on the ground the corner called for in the grant as the beginning' corner does not control more than any other corner actually well ascertained, nor are we constrained to follow the calls of the grant in the order said calls stand in the field notes there recorded, but are permitted to reverse the calls and trace the lines the other way, and should do so whenever by so doing the land embraced would most nearly harmonize all the calls and the objects of
“There has been proof given you tending to show where the two small backberries called for as the intersection of the eastern and north lines of the grant actually stood at a distance from the lower corner on the river corresponding to the length of the eastern line of said grant; and if the proof satisfies you that the two hackberries mentioned in the testimony of the witnesses Sam. and Pat. Bigham were the backberries called for and marked by the original surveyor as a corner of said grant, in that case a line drawn from the point where said hackberries stood N. 70 W. until it intersects the western line of said grant will bound the eleven-league grant upon the north, and if the Daws one-third of a league is situated wholly north of this line it does not conflict with said eleven-league grant, and you will find for the plaintiff.
" If the proof does not satisfy you that the two backberries mentioned in the testimony of the witnesses were the two hackberries called for by the original surveyor to serve as a landmark for corner at the intersection of the back (or north) line with the east line of said grant, and if a consideration of the whole proof satisfies you that the original surveyor began