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Opinion of the Court.
vides generally for the filing of an application, under oath, for such patent with the register of the proper land office, and also for the publication of that application, and if no adverse claim is filed with the register within the period stated by the statute, it is to be assumed that the applicant is entitled to a patent upon the terms therein mentioned; and it is then provided in the section that "thereafter no objection from third parties to the issuance of a patent shall be heard, except it be shown that the applicant has failed to comply with the terms of this chapter."
Section 2326 provides for the course to be pursued in case an adverse claim is filed, and for the issuing of a patent after a decision by a court of competent jurisdiction of the question as to which of the parties is entitled thereto. Perego v. Dodge, ante, 160.
It has been held that this character of interest thus outlined is property, and it is recognized as such in those States of the West whose inhabitants are interested in mines. These claims are subjects of bargain and sale, and constitute, as it is said, very largely the wealth of the Pacific Coast States, and the right to sell, transfer, mortgage and inherit them is recognized by the courts. Forbes v. Gracey, 94 U. S. 762, 766; Belk v. Meagher, 104 U. S. 279, 283; Manuel v. Wulff, 152 U. S. 505, 510.
Mr. Justice Miller, in the course of his opinion in Forbes v. Gracey, stated: "It is very true that Congress has, by statutes and by tacit consent, permitted individuals and corporations to dig out and convert to their own use the ores containing the precious metals which are found in the lands belonging to the Government without exacting or receiving any compensation for those ores and without requiring the miner to buy or pay for the land. It has gone further, and recognized the possessory rights of these miners, as asserted among themselves by the rules which have become the laws of the mining districts as regards mining claims, but in doing this it has not parted with the title to the land except in cases where the land has been sold in accordance with the provisions of the law upon that subject."
Opinion of the Court.
The interest in a mining claim, prior to the payment of any money for the granting of a patent for the land, is nothing more than a right to the exclusive possession of the land based upon conditions subsequent, a failure to fulfil which forfeits the locator's interest in the claim. We do not think that under the Federal statute the locator takes such an estate in the claim that dower attaches to it.
To sum up as to the character of the right which is granted by the United States to a locator, we find: (1) That no written instrument is necessary to create it. Locating upon the land and continuing yearly to do the work provided for by the statute gives to and continues in the locator the right of possession as stated in the statute. (2) This right, conditional in its character, may be forfeited by the failure of the locator to do the necessary amount of work, or if, being one among several locators, he neglects to pay his share for the work which has been done by his coöwners, his right and interest in the claim may be forfeited to such coöwners under the provisions of the statute. (3) His interest in the claim may also be forfeited by his abandonment, with an intention to renounce his right of possession. It cannot be doubted that an actual abandonment of possession by a locator of a mining claim, such as would work an abandonment of any other easement, would terminate all the right of possession which the locator then had.
An easement in real estate may be abandoned without any writing to that effect and by any act evincing an intention to give up and renounce the same. Snell v. Levitt, 110 N. Y. 595, and cases cited at p. 603 of opinion of Earl, J.; White v. Manhattan Railway Co., 139 N. Y. 19. If the locator remained in possession and failed to do the work provided for by statute his interest would terminate, and it appears to be equally plain that if he actually abandoned the possession, giving up all claim to it, and left the land, that all the right provided by the statute would terminate under such circumstances. If he convey to another a right which may be thus lost, that conveyance would seem to be equivalent to an abandonment by him of all rights under the statute. What could
Opinion of the Court.
be better evidence of an intention to abandon than an actual conveyance of his right to another, ceasing to do any work thereon, and the giving up of his possession in accordance with his conveyance? The abandonment by simply leaving the land is no more efficacious than conveying his rights and also leaving possession without any intention of returning. His simple abandonment would leave no right remaining in his wife to claim dower upon his death in the interest thus abandoned. If he add a conveyance as a clearer evidence of abandonment, her alleged right to dower is not strengthened.
By the terms of the statute there is no grant of any right to the wife. It is granted to the locator and to his heirs and assigns, and there is no condition that hampers the right to convey by incumbering it with an inchoate right of dower. And until he does some act towards paying the purchase money he obtains no vested right of purchase or claim to a patent. Benson Mining & Smelting Co. v. Alta Mining & Smelting Co., 145 U. S. 428; Shepley v. Cowan, 91 U. S. 330.
The last cited case arose under the statute in relation to a settler seeking to acquire the right of preemption in certain lands, yet the same principle applies to a case of one who had located land and is in possession thereof, but has paid nothing on account of the lands and has made no effort to purchase the same. An abandonment, therefore, by the locator surrenders merely a right to the exclusive possession, as provided for in the statute, which exclusive possession remains during the pleasure of the government. An abandonment of it by leaving it, not intending to return, or a conveyance of his interest to a third party, would seem equally to terminate that interest and effectually to bar all possible future claim, if any ever existed, on the part of his wife to dower in such premises.
By conveying his interest as locator he not only ceases to do any work on the claim as provided for by statute, but he puts another in possession with all his rights to do the work called for by it, and gives him the right to do all that he could have done towards purchasing the land itself. When the grantee does the work and then obtains a patent, it ought
not to be burdened with any right of dower in the widow of his grantor, who had by his conveyance abandoned all his rights and given up the possession upon which they were based. The statute, by expressly providing that the locator and his heirs and assigns should have the rights, clearly meant to provide for a conveyance thereof to the grantee to the same extent that they were possessed by the grantor.
We are of opinion, therefore, that by the conveyance of Mrs. Black's husband to his grantee of all his interest as locator in the mining claim in question he abandoned all his right and interest in the claim to his grantee, and that interest which thus passed to his grantee was not subject to any possible incumbrance of the wife by way of dower in the premises. The interest granted by the United States was of such a nature that a conveyance of Black's right to the possession terminated it to the same extent as if it had been forfeited by non-performance of the conditions provided for in the statute, and hence the wife has no claim for dower in the premises. The judgment is
FAUST v. UNITED STATES.
ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS.
No. 687. Submitted January 9, 1896.- Decided May 25, 1896.
The defendant's name need not be correctly spelled in an indictment, if substantially the same sound is preserved.
On the trial under an indictment against an assistant postmaster for embezzling money-order funds of the United States, it being proved that he was the son and assistant of the principal postmaster, and as such had the sole management and possession of the money-order business and money-order funds during the entire term, a certified transcript from the office of the Auditor of the Treasury at Washington, showing the account of the postmaster, is admissible in evidence.
It was no error on such trial to refuse to admit evidence tending to show that another person than the defendant, at a time anterior to the time of the commission of the offence charged, had committed another and
Statement of the Case.
different offence than the one herein charged, and that said other person
had been indicted and convicted thereof.
It was within the discretion of the court below to permit a witness who had been examined and cross-examined to be recalled in order to make some change in the statements made by him on cross-examination. The objection that the charge as a whole was misleading is without merit. The sixth assignment is based on the refusal of the court to charge the jury that the embezzlement must be proved to have taken place without the consent of the defendant's principal or employer. It was claimed that as the indictment failed to charge that the defendant embezzled any money without the consent of his principal or employer, and as the postmaster employed the defendant, the defendant's responsibility was to the postmaster, and not to the government. Held that it had no
The remaining assignments are without merit.
In the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Texas the defendant, plaintiff in error, was indicted, December 21, 1893, and subsequently tried, for feloniously embezzling certain money-order funds of the United States. On April 18, 1895, he was found guilty under the second count of the indictment, which alleged that on April 6, 1893, he was assistant postmaster at Thornton, in the county of Limestone, within the district aforesaid, and as such assistant postmaster had in his possession and control money-order funds to the amount of $400, and did unlawfully and feloniously embezzle and convert the same to his own use. He was sentenced to imprisonment in the penitentiary, and thereupon he applied for and obtained a writ of error from this court. On the trial the defendant entered a plea of misnomer, as follows:
"And now comes W. J. Foust in his proper person, who is indicted by the name of W. J. Faust, and having heard the said indictment read, says that he was baptized in the name of W. J. Foust, and by that name always since his baptism hereto has been called and known, and by no other name has he ever been known or called, and this he, the said W. J. Foust, is ready to verify. Wherefore he prays judgment of the said indictment, and that the same may be quashed.”
The court overruled this plea, and the defendant took an exception. At the suggestion of the attorney for the United