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Grigsby Land Claim Case

1889
THE GRIGSBY CLAIMANTS

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CHARGE OF THE COURT TO THE JURY
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Which Embraces a Brief Synopsis
of the History of All The Claims.

     A full and concise statement of the litigation of the Grigsby land claim which is of so much interest to the people of Dallas, is found in the charge delivered by Special Judge Lathrop to the jury, which yesterday returned a verdict for the defendants in the case of D. B. Grigsby et al vs. W. H. Bowles et al. The supreme court of Texas has decided four appeals in which the claims of the Grigsby heirs formed basis of action, in each instance holding that the plaintiffs were entitled to recover five eighteenths of the land. But, the defense in these cases each time relied upon the five years statute of limitation holding that the state constitution adopted in 1869 did not go into effect until approved by congress in 1870. The supreme court, however, took a different view and held that the constitution went into effect when it was adopted by a vote of the people in 1869, and upon this ruling, the parties were not barred by limitation by the space of two or three months. One of the defendants, Peak, then appealed to the supreme court of the United States, which appeal is now pending. The suit decided yesterday was fought upon a statute limitation of three years. The charge to the jury was as follows:
     Gentlemen of the jury--You are instructed as follows: This is a suit brought by plaintiffs D. B. Grigsby and Maria Louisa Swindell, her husband, C. C. Swindell, joining her, against W. H. Bowels and a large number of other persons, to recover---the one, D. B. Grigsby, three-eighteenths, and Maria Louisa Swindel, three-eighteenths undivided interest in a certain portion of the league and labor of land originally granted to John Grigsby, and in 640 acres of the Sylvester survey. Mary A. May, one of the defendants, claimed, and her vendee, since the institution of this suit, now claims 290 acres of the 640-acre Sylvester tract, which is fully described in the joint answer of said May and Hughes filed herein on the 26th day of January, 1889, and they disclaim any interest in any other portion of said land, and have been granted a separate trial to the land so claimed by the said May and Hughes. The defendant, Robert F. Aspley, also claims four-eighteenths individual interest in said lands and the life estate of his father, R. F. P. Aspley, in the individual third of four-eighteenths of said land. The only issues submitted to you in this case for your determination are the rights of the plaintiffs, the defendant Aspley and the defendants May and Hughes to the said 290 acres of land in the Sylvester survey.
     The plaintiffs claim their interest in said land as the heirs of their mother, Louisa Edens, formerly Louisa Grigsby, and the defendant, Aspley, as the sole heir of Emeline Aspley, formerly Grigsby, who was a daughter of said Louisa Edens, formerly Grigsby.
     The certificate under which the patent to the Sylvester survey was granted was obtained by John Grigsby and his wife, Louisa, during the existence of the marriage relations between them and was their common property, and was undisposed of at the date of the death of John Grigsby in 1841, and at that time, the undivided half of the said certificate belonged to the heirs of John Grigsby and the other half to his widow, Louisa Grigsby, subject only to the payment of debts contracted by John Grigsby during the existence of the marriage.
     In the year 1841, administration was opened on the estate of John Grigsby in Houston county, Texas, the place of his residence and death, and ruing the administrating of said estate, Louisa Grigsby intermarried with Bales Edens, and she died in 1843, leaving three children, two of whom, Daniel B. Grigsby and Maria Louisa Edens, now Swindell, are plaintiffs therein, and Emeline Grigsby, who were her heirs at law, each inheriting one third of her estate. While that administration was so carried on, in 1846, the patent to the Sylvester 640 acres was issued by the state to the heirs of John Grigsby. Yet, while the patent was issued to the heirs of John Grigsby, the certificate under which it was issued being the common property of John and Louisa Grigsby, one half of said land belonged to the heirs of Louisa Grigsby. Emeline Grigsby was married on the 24th of February, 1854, to L. B. G. Aspley, and she died November 7, 1868, leaving as her sold heir at law, Robert F. Aspley, her husband being entitled to a life estate in one-third of her real estate. The administration of John Grigsby's estate was afterwards removed to Anderson county, Texas, and in the year 1848, the administrator of said estate reported that the land in controversy in this suit was ready for partition. None of this land was needed to pay the debts contracted during the existence of the marriage relations between John Grigsby and his wife, Louisa Grigsby, and at that time, the heirs of Louisa Grigsby were entitled to the undivided half of said land. And you will, therefore, in your verdict, find for the plaintiffs and the defendant Aspley, their interest in said land as claimed by them, unless the same is barred by the statute of limitation.
     You are instructed that the statute of limitation did not begin to run against the plaintiff, D. B. Grigsby, until he arrived at 21 years of age. You are further instructed that the statute of limitation did not run from the 28th day of January, 1851, until the 30th day of March, 1870, and as the proof shows that D. B. Grigsby was born in the year 1841, he could not have arrived at the age of 21 years until after the 28th day of January, 1861. You are therefore instructed that the statute of limitation as to him did not begin to run until march 30, 1870, and that it ceased to run against him on the 18th day of August, 1874, the date of the institution of this suit, and you are instructed that the five and ten years' statutes of limitation do not apply to him.
     You are instructed that the statute of limitation did not begin to run against the plaintiff, Maria Louisa Swindell, until the date of her marriage on Aug. 24, 1859, and you are further instructed that the statute of limitation did not run from Jan. 28, 1861, until Sept. 2, 1866, when the statute commenced running again and continued to run until Dec. 3, 1869, the time that the constitution of 1869 went into effect. During the time of the statute so running, five years did not elapse, and the five years' statute does not apply to her; and after the statute had commenced running again, March 30, 1870, up to August 18, 1874, the date of the institution of this suit, including the time from her first marriage, did not amount to seven years, the seven years' statute did not bar her right; neither does the ten years' statute apply to her.
     In regard to the defendant, R. F. Aspley, you are instructed that the statute of limitation commenced running against his ancestor, Emeline Grigsby, upon the date of her marriage to L. G. B. Aspley, Feb. 24, 1854, and so continued to run until Jan. 28, 1861, when it ceased to run until March 30, 1870, when it commenced running again and continued to run until Oct. 22, 1881, when he filed his original answer in this case, setting up claim to the land in controversy; and as more than ten year had elapsed since the statues commenced running on the marriage of Emeline Grigsby, up to the filing of said Aspley's original answer in this suit, excluding the time when the statute was suspended, as hereinbefore stated, and as the defendant May had continuous and uninterrupted possession of said land since the fall of 1853, so you, as far [as] the claim of Aspley is concerned, will find for the defendants May and Hughes.
     You are further instructed that as the defendants, May and Hughes, who claims under her, have been in peaceable and adverse possession of the 290 acres in controversy herein, under title or color of title, for more than three years next before the commencement of this suit, on Aug. 18, 1874, you will find for the defendants Hughes and May as to the 290 acres in controversy herein.
     By the term, title, as used herein, is meant a regular chain of transfers from the sovereignty of the soil to them. And you are charged that under the plea of the statute of limitation of three years the patent to the Sylvester tract for 640 acres of land, being from the government to the heirs of John Grigsby, the partition of the land among the heirs of John Grigsby by the probate court of Anderson county, in the administration of the estate of John Grigsby, deceased, in which the land in controversy was allotted one of his heirs, James Grigsby, and the deed made by the administrator, John Grigsby, to said James Grigsby is a link in the regular chain of the title from the sovereignty of the soil; and as the defendant shows an undisputed chain of the title from the said James Grigsby to himself, and also that proof is uncontradicted that said Hughes and those under whom he claims have had adverse and continuous possession of said land, cultivating and using the same for more than three years before the institution of this suit, excluding the time of the stoppage of the running of the statute and the disabilities under which plaintiffs labored, you will therefore find a verdict for the defendants May and Hughes.

- February 8, 1889, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 1-2.
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1892
THE ASPLEY CASE

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Knocked Out by Judge T. S.
Maxey.

     In the Federal court Saturday afternoon, Judge J. S. Maxey decided the Aspley case in favor of the defendants. The case had been on trial five days and the verdict gives excellent satisfaction.
     This suit was brought to recover a block of land in the very heart of Dallas, upon which are many fine business blocks, and was really a test case to try title to the whole Crawford Grigsby 1000 acres, on which the major portion of the city is located. Crawford Grigsby located this league of land for his father, John Grigsby, in 1840-41, and was to receive 1000 acres as his locative interest. John Grigsby died in March, 1841, and the patent was issued Jan. 28, 1842. Robert F. Aspley is a grandson of John Grigsby. In 1844, the legislature passed a special law giving jurisdiction to probate judges over cases of specific performance of contract. In 1846, the legislature passed a general law in which that clause giving this jurisdiction to probate judges was left out. In 1847, Crawford Grigsby's administrator moved to have the 1000 acres belonging to the Crawford Grigsby estate set aside, which was so ordered by the court. Now comes the plaintiff, R. F. Aspley, into court and sets up the claim, that under the law of 1846, which was in force at the time, the probate court had no jurisdiction over cases for the specific performance of contract. Judge Maxey holds that the probate court at that time did have jurisdiction, for the reason that the law of 1844 was special and the law of 1846, general, and the fact of the clause in reference to specific performance of contract being left out of the law of 1846, did not change the jurisdiction. This was one of the most important suits ever tried in Dallas, as it involves millions of dollars' worth of property and concerns thousands of our people.

- February 22, 1892, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 4, col. 4.
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THE ASPLEY CASE.
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Motion for a New Trial Over-
ruled.

     Judge T. S. Maxey, in the Federal court, overruled a motion for anew trial made by plaintiffs in the suit of R. F. Aspley vs. Murphy & Bolanz et al.

- February 23, 1892, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 1, col. 3.
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