APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA.
MR. JUSTICE FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.
This is a suit in equity, brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of California, by Jane M. Teall, Timothy H. Teall, and Harvey Benedict, residents and citizens of the State of New York, against A. Schroder and three hundred and thirty-four other defendants, residents and citizens of the State of California, to enforce the transfer by them to the complainants of certain lands described in the bill of complaint, situated in the city of San Jose in that State, and represented as covering a large part of the city. There are various charges made as to the manner in which the defendants came into possession of the property, imputing fraudulent conduct on their part, and invoking the interposition of the equity powers of the court for its correction.
The bill was filed on the 1st of June, 1889, and represents that the complainants are residents and citizens of the State of New York, and have never been in California, and that the defendants are residents and citizens of California; that one Oliver Teall, stated to be the ancestor of the complainants, was, on the first day of August, 1857, the owner and in possession of certain real property, situated in the city of San Jose, county of Santa Clara in the latter State, more particularly described as certain pieces or parcels of land and town lots, designated by certain numbers in blocks, on the official map or plat of the city; and alleges that on the 2d day of February, 1852, he executed and delivered to one Davis Devine an instrument of writing appointing him his attorney in fact, and authorizing him in his, Teall's, name and to his use to enter upon and take possession of all lands, tenements, and hereditaments in the State of California to which he then was or might thereafter become entitled, or in which he was or might become interested, and in his name to grant, bargain, and sell, or to lease and demise the same, or any parcel thereof,
for such sum or price as to him, Devine, might seem meet, and to execute good and sufficient deeds of conveyance by quitclaim for the same.
That power of attorney was duly acknowledged and filed for record in the office of the recorder of the county of Santa Clara on the 16th day of March, 1852, and has ever since remained on the records of the county, and was unrevoked and in full force until the death of Teall on the 12th day of August, 1857.
The bill further alleges that prior to the first day of August, 1857, Devine, as attorney in fact of Teall and pursuant to the authority thus vested in him, took possession of all the premises mentioned, and continued in possession thereof until his death; that in violation of the trust reposed in him, on a day and date unknown to the complainants, but while in possession of the premises as the attorney in fact of Teall, he caused the whole of the premises to be conveyed to himself in the following manner, to wit: "Pretending to act as attorney in fact of Teall, he executed and delivered to one A. L. Rhodes a deed of release and quitclaim of all of the premises, bearing date as of the 1st day of August, 1857, and reciting a consideration of $5000, and that on the same day said A. L. Rhodes, by a similar deed, with a similar consideration recited, reconveyed all of the premises to Devine; that the conveyances were acknowledged on the 17th day of September, 1857, and were recorded on the 8th day of October thereafter, and have ever since remained on the records of the county of Santa Clara."
The bill further alleges that the alleged conveyances, and each of them, were fraudulent and void as to Oliver Teall and those claiming under him; that no consideration passed from Rhodes to Devine, or from Devine to Rhodes therefor; that the same were not authorized by Teall, nor was any consideration paid to him therefor, nor was any ratification thereof ever made by him, but that the deeds were made solely for the purpose of enabling Devine to deal with and dispose of the property as his own, and to defraud Teall and those claiming under him out of the property.
The bill further alleges that on the 12th day of August, 1857, Teall died in the city of Syracuse, in the State of New York, of which place he had for many years been a resident; and also upon information and belief, that the conveyances from Devine to Rhodes and from Rhodes to Devine were not executed upon the dates borne by them respectively, but were executed after the death of Teall, on the 17th of September, 1857; that during all this time the premises were and still are within the boundaries of the former pueblo of San Jose de Gaudalupe, and are included in the pueblo and its successor, the city of San Jose, a municipal corporation organized under the laws of California, and that the constituted authorities thereof, by virtue of a grant of the Mexican government, made prior to the cession of California to the United States, held the premises in trust for persons in possession or entitled to the possession thereof; that on the 4th of June, 1884, letters patent of the United States were issued to the mayor and common council of the city of San Jose, as the constituted authorities of the city, for the premises under the trust mentioned, and that the legal title is now held by the patentee, except as the same has been conveyed to others by those authorities and their predecessors; that all the defendants, except the mayor and common council of the city of San Jose, have entered upon and are now in possession of portions of the premises by virtue of conveyances from Devine made subsequently to the record of the conveyance to him by Rhodes.
It is apparent from the development of the facts in this case that the allegations of fraud on the part of Rhodes and Devine, as set forth in the bill, are made, not upon any knowledge of facts, showing such fraud, by the complainants, but upon surmises or conclusions inferred by them from the circumstance that no conveyance of the premises in controversy appears of record from Devine to Oliver Teall after the execution by the latter of the power of attorney to him, or to any other person for Teall's benefit.
As appears from the admitted allegations of the bill and the proceedings in the case, Oliver Teall, after the execution of his power of attorney ...