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of what the injury is "caused by;" but it looks only to the "means" by which it is effected. No one doubts that hanging is a violent means of death. As it affects the body from without, it is external, just as suffocation by drowning was held to be, in the cases of Trew, Reynolds and Winspear, above cited. And, according to the decisions as to suicide under policies of life insurance, before referred to, it cannot, when done by an insane person, be held to be other than accidental.
The result is, that the judgment of the Circuit Court in favor of the plaintiff was correct, and must be
FLETCHER v. FULLER.
ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND.
Argued January 18, 19, 1887. - Decided March 7, 1887.
Defendants in ejectment having produced a regular chain of title under a deed from a graudson of the original owner of a lot in Rhode Island, including the land in controversy, which was executed in 1768 and recorded soon afterwards in the land records of the town in which it was situated; and having shown that the ancestors in title paid the taxes on said lot for twenty years preceding 1805, and that afterward, up to the trial of the action in 1882, a period of seventy-seven years, they or their ancestors in title had uninterruptedly paid the taxes on the lot; and having shown an entry in 1835 by their ancestor upon the lot under a deed, for the purpose of quarrying a ledge of rock running through it, and the quarrying of the ledge with occasional intervals from 1846 to the commencement of this action in 1874, a period of twenty-eight years, the said entry being made with claim of title to the whole lot. Held, in an action brought by the heirs of the devisee of the original proprietor, under a will executed in 1749, and probated in 1756, none of whom had made any claim to the premises for three quarters of a century after the death of the original proprietor, under whose will they now assert title, nor paid taxes on the property, nor after that time ever taken possession of the premises or paid taxes upon them, that the jury might presume a deed to the grandson from the original proprietor, or from his devisee, to quiet the possession of the defendants claiming under such grandson; and that in making such presumption the jury were not to be restricted to consideration of
Argument for Plaintiff in Error.
what they fairly supposed actually occurred, but to what may have occurred, and seems requisite to quiet title in the possessors. It is sufficient that the evidence leads to the conclusion, that the deed might have been executed, and that its execution would be a solution of difficulties arising from its non-execution.
Though a presumption of a deed may be rebutted by proof of facts inconsistent with its supposed existence, yet, where no such facts are shown, and the things done and the things omitted, with regard to the property in controversy, by the respective parties, for long periods of time after the execution of the supposed conveyance, can be explained satisfactorily only upon the hypothesis of its existence, the jury may be instructed that it is their duty to presume such a conveyance, and thus quiet the possession.
Though as a general rule, it is only where the possession has been actual, open, and exclusive for the period prescribed by the statute of limitations to bar an action for the recovery of land, that the presumption of a deed can be invoked; yet that presumption may properly be invoked where a proprietary right、 has been exercised beyond such statutory period, although the exclusive possession of the whole property, to which the right is asserted, may have been occasionally interrupted during such period if, in addition to the actual possession, there have been other open acts of ownership.
The assessment of taxes on an entire parcel of real estate to the person in possession under claim of title, and to his ancestors and privies in estate, for over a hundred years, is powerful evidence of a claim of right to the whole lot: and, taken in connection with the exclusive working of a quarry on the estate for more than twenty years under claim of title to the whole tract, by virtue of conveyances in which it was described, may authorize a jury to infer continuous possession of the whole, notwithstanding a temporary and occasional intrusion by others upon a different part of the tract, which did not interfere with the work.
EJECTMENT for a tract of land in Rhode Island. Verdict for plaintiff, and judgment on the verdict. Defendants sued out this writ of error. The case is stated in the opinion of the
Mr. William H. Greene and Mr. James Tillinghast (Mr. Charles Hart was with them on the brief) for plaintiffs in error cited: Lehigh Valley Railroad v. McFarlan, 43 N. J. Law, 605; Hillary v. Waller, 12 Ves. 239, 252; Casey's Lessee v. Inloes, 1 Gill 430, 503 [S. C. 39 Am. Dec. 658]; Sumner v. Child, 2 Conn. 607; Williams v. Donell, 2 Head, 695; Coolidge v. Learned, 8 Pick. 504; Durant v. Ritchie, 4 Mason, 45; Clarke v. Cross, 2 R. I. 440; Beckford v. Wade, 17 Ves.
Argument for Defendant in Error.
87; Union Savings Bank v. Taber, 13 R. I. 683; United States v. Dickson, 15 Pet. 141; Mowry v. Providence, 10 R. I. 52; Ewing v. Burnet, 11 Pet. 41; Sailor v. Hertzogg, 10 Penn. St. 296; Farrar v. Fessenden, 39 N. H. 268; Little v. Downing, 37 N. H. 355; Webb v. Richardson, 42 Vt. 465, 474; Paine v. Hutchins, 49 Vt. 314; St. Louis Public Schools v. Risley's Heirs, 40 Missouri, 356, 370; Davis v. Easley, 13 Ill. 192; Elwell v. Hinckley, 138 Mass. 225; Glascock v. Hughes, 55 Texas, 461; Ricard v. Williams, 7 Wheat. 59, 105; Cheney v. Watkins, 1 Harr. & Johns. 527 [S. C. 2 Am. Dec. 530]; Draper v. Shoot, 25 Missouri, 197 [S. C. 69 Am. Dec. 462]; Tingley v. Providence, 8 R. I. 493; McClung v. Ross, 5 Wheat. 116; Campbell v. Point Street Iron Works, 12 R. I. 452; Burdick v. Burdick, 15 R. I. 574.
Mr. Livingston Scott and Mr. Elisha C. Mowry (Mr. James C. Collins was with them on the brief) for defendant in error cited, to the points decided by the court: Dwyer v. Dunbar, 5 Wall. 318; Burrell v. State, 18 Texas, 713-733; Rivière v. McCormick, 14 La. Ann. 139; Laber v. Cooper, 7 Wall. 565; Jackson v. Haviland, 13 Johns. 229; Hamet v. Dundass, 4 Penn. St. 178; Taylor's Devisees v. Burnside, 1 Gratt. 165, 211; Jackson v. Myers, 3 Johns. 383, 392, 393 [S. C. 3 Am. Dec. 504]; Ewing v. Burnet, 1 McLean, 266; Sorber v. Willing, 10 Watts, 141; Hockenbury v. Snyder, 2 W. & S. 240; Cornelius v. Giberson, 1 Dutcher, 1; Reed v. Field, 15 Vt. 672; Little v. Megquier, 2 Greenl. 176; Clarke v. Cross, 2 R. I. 440; Hurst v. McNeil, 1 Wash. C. C. 70; Ricard v. Williams, 7 Wheat. 59, 108; Anonymous, 1 Salk. 246; Barr v. Gratz, 1 Wheat. 213; Smith v. Burtis, 6 Johns. 197 [S. C. 5 Am. Dec. 218]; Codman v. Winslow, 10 Mass. 146; Brimmer v. Proprietors of Long Wharf, 5 Pick. 131; Henderson v. Griffin, 5 Pet. 151; Holtzapple v. Phillburn, 4 Wash. C. C. 356; O'Hara v. Richardson, 46 Penn. St. 385; Altemas v. Campbell, 9 Watts, 28; [S. C. 34 Am. Dec. 494]; Burrows v. Gallup, 32 Conn. 493; Peabody v. Hewitt, 52 Maine, 33 [S. C. 83 Am. Dec. 486]; Means v. Welles, 12 Met. (Mass.) 356; Brickett v. Spofford, 14 Gray, 514; Rogers v. Benlow, 10 S. & R. 306; Robison v. Swett, 3 Greenl. 316.
Opinion of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.
This is an action of ejectment to recover possession of twenty-seven twenty-eighths undivided parts of a tract of land, containing about fourteen acres, situated in the town of Lincoln, formerly Smithfield, in the state of Rhode Island. The plaintiff, a citizen of Connecticut, sues the defendants, citizens of Rhode Island, in his own right and as trustee for others.
The declaration contains several counts, all of which except two are withdrawn. In these the plaintiff alleges that on the 25th of October, 1874, he was "seized and possessed in his demense as of fee in his own right and as trustee" of twentyseven twenty-eighths undivided parts of the tract of land which is described, and that the defendants on that day and year, with force and arms, entered thereon and ejected him therefrom, and have ever since withheld the possession, to his damage of one thousand dollars. The two counts differ merely in the description of some of the boundary lines of the tract. The defendants pleaded the general issue and twenty years' possession under the statute of possessions. Upon these pleas issues were joined and the case was tried, the parties stipulating that the plea of the statute should be held to apply to any period or periods of twenty years that could be covered by any other like plea that might have been filed, and that either party might offer any evidence and rely upon any matters that would be admissible under such plea or pleas, and any proper replications or other proceedings thereon. The case was tried three times, resulting the first time in a verdict for the defendants, and at the other times in a verdict for the plaintiff. The judgment on the last verdict is brought before us for review by the defendants on a writ of error. Numerous exceptions were taken in the progress of the trial to the rulings of the court in the admission and rejection of evidence, and to the instructions given and refused to the jury. But the conclusions we have reached with respect to the instructions given and refused as to the presumption of a deed to the ancestors in title of the defendants, render it unnecessary to consider the others.
Opinion of the Court.
It appears from the evidence at the trial that the land in controversy was the westerly part of a tract of 334 acres, belonging, in 1750, to one James Reed, and which, by early conveyances, became divided into three parcels, one, containing 22 acres, one 5 acres, and the third 6 acres, as shown by a diagram submitted, by consent of parties, to the jury, of which the following is a reduced copy: