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LYONS v. ANDREWS ET AL. (12/11/73)

decided: December 11, 1973.

LYONS
v.
ANDREWS ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County, No. 71-0143, in case of Thurman D. Lyons and Ruth D. Lyons v. Donald A. Andrews and Sara Mae Andrews.

COUNSEL

Richard H. Roesgen, with him McNerney, Page, Vanderlin & Hall, for appellants.

John P. Campana, with him Campana & Campana, for appellee.

Wright, P. J., Watkins, Jacobs, Hoffman, Spaulding, Cercone, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Spaeth, J.

Author: Spaeth

[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 353]

This case involves a dispute between neighbors over the ownership of a strip of land lying between their properties. Plaintiffs (appellees) live at 226 North Main Street in the Borough of Hughesville, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. They brought an ejectment action when defendants (appellants), who live at 220 North Main Street, erected a fence and claimed the disputed strip of land. Plaintiffs contend that the strip is theirs by virtue of the adverse possession of their predecessor in title. A jury heard the evidence and returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs. Defendants filed motions for a new trial and judgment n.o.v., which the court en banc denied.

Main Street may be thought of as extending in a generally north-south direction; it intersects Race Street which extends in a generally east-west direction. 226 North Main Street (plaintiffs' premises) is on the corner of Main and Race, fronting on Main to the west and Race to the north. 220 North Main Street (defendants' premises) is next to and south of 226 North Main Street; it too fronts on Main. The disputed strip of land has a frontage of fourteen feet on Main and lies to the north of defendants' premises. The south side of plaintiffs' house lies within the strip.

At one time all of the land -- plaintiffs', defendants', and the disputed strip -- was owned jointly or singly by Lawson H. Priest. A series of conveyances ensued. Without describing these, it is sufficient to note that neither the deed received by plaintiffs on September 18, 1969 nor the deed received by defendants on February 27, 1956 included the strip; it was conveyed to neither.*fn1

[ 226 Pa. Super. Page 354]

Plaintiffs maintain, however, that their grantor, Angelina Daye, acquired ownership of the strip by twenty-one years of possession adverse to the interests of defendants' predecessors in title, Lawson Priest and Mary E. Priest (Lawson's daughter and devisee), and that they as her successors now own it.*fn2

To substantiate their claim, plaintiffs called as their principal witness Ellen Houseknecht, the granddaughter of Angelina Daye, who testified as follows.*fn3 Angelina Daye lived continuously at 226 North Main Street from August 18, 1937 (the day she received the deed) until sometime in August 1969 except for a fourteen or fifteen month period in 1954 and 1955 when a tenant was in possession. Mrs. Houseknecht moved in when Mrs. Daye did; she was thirteen years old. She moved out in 1941, returned in 1943, and moved out again in 1955. She has lived at R.D. # 2 in Hughesville ever since. After she moved out, she and her husband continued to visit Mrs. Daye on a regular basis.

Mrs. Houseknecht recounted various activities engaged in by herself, her grandmother, other family members, guests, and pets on the disputed strip between 1937 and 1969. As a teenager, Mrs. Houseknecht ...


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