also maintains, based upon a search of histories and anthologies at the Allentown Public Library and the Lehigh County Historical Society, that "in the histories of Lehigh County, there is no mention of the existence of a Court House Square up to and including 1864, the date of the agreement." Finally, at the hearing claimant offered postcards and pictures which depict the condemned property as being fenced in at various times after 1864, in support of its position that the condemned property was privately owned by the signatories of the Agreement.
We find claimant's first argument, that because the signatories declared that they were the owners it must indeed be so, to be circular and wholly unpersuasive. Moreover, although claimant offers the conclusion that none of the histories of Allentown make mention of a "Court House Square" no documentation or evidence was presented at the hearing to indicate how broad the search was, which particular anthologies were consulted, nor whether any evidence from anthologies was found that proved in the affirmative, rather than the negative, that "Court House Square" did not exist. And while the postcards and pictures serve as a fascinating foray into Allentown's days of yore, at most they indicate to us that the condemned property was indeed fenced in at various times after 1864. We refuse to follow claimant's leap from this point to the distant conclusion that these postcards evidence ownership of the condemned property by the signatories of the 1864 Agreement, especially in light of the significant recorded documentary evidence to the contrary.
Finally, the evidence regarding chain of title is supported by the two ancient maps presented by the government at the hearing. The first, the William Allen Map of 1762, appears to divide the area the government refers to as "Court House Square" from Lots 165 and 179. (Findings, P 71). Mr. Czop testified that in his opinion this division signifies the creation of "Court House Square." He also testified that the second map, the 1842 Jarrett Map, depicts an offset at the southwest corner of Hamilton and Margaret Streets and thus corresponds to the division on the William Allen Map of 1762. (Findings, PP 74-75). Claimant disputes this conclusion and argues that "the William Allen Map does NOT refer, at all, to any Court House Square," and maintains that in 1762 there would have been no need for a Court House Square since Northamptontowne was a part of Northampton County and not the county seat.
We find claimant's arguments in this regard to also be without merit. While it is true that the William Allen Map does not explicitly refer to the divided area as "Court House Square," Mr. Czop testified, and claimant admits in its trial memorandum, that dedications of public lands are often made by marks on plats or drafts. See Hoffman v. City of Pittsburgh, 365 Pa. 386, 75 A.2d 649 (1950) ("The usual mode of designating streets, squares, etc., to the public in this State is simply to designate them on the plat or draft of the town as such . . .") (quoting Commonwealth v. Rush, 14 Pa. 186); see also Millcreek Tp. v. A Piece of Land, 181 Pa. Super. 214, 124 A.2d 448 (1956) (offer of dedication may be made by express declaration or by acts, deed or plat). With regard to claimant's second argument, we note only that Mr. Czop testified that it was his opinion that the designation of "Court House Square" occurred sometime between 1762 and 1842. Since Lehigh County was formed in 1812, and the Borough of Northampton became its county seat that same year, it is possible that a "Court House Square" was designated in that time period. In any event, the 1842 Jarrett map confirms that by 1842 the area referred to as "Court House Square" appears to have been separated from Lots 165 and 179, certainly well before the signing of the 1864 Agreement.
Consequently, on balance, after careful consideration of the detailed exhibits submitted by the parties, the testimony presented at the hearing, and the parties' trial and post-trial memoranda, we find that plaintiff has overwhelmingly met its burden of proof and hold that Court House Square did indeed exist in 1864 at the southwest corner of Hamilton and Margaret Streets; that ownership of the Square was in the public at that time; and the signatories of the 1864 Agreement at no time possessed any ownership rights in the Square, a part of which is now the condemned property and the subject of this action.
The conclusion we reach here today, that ownership of Court House Square laid in the public, is the same as that reached by the honorable Judge Davison of the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas in County of Lehigh v. Yundt, et al., supra, more than twenty years ago. Although it would have been our preference to have simply based our finding upon Judge Davison's complete and scholarly discussion of the same issue in Yundt, we were unable to do so because, as we discussed earlier, that opinion had no res judicata or collateral estoppel effect on the parties to this action. While we cannot rely on the Yundt opinion we may certainly take notice of it since a court may examine proceedings in other courts if those proceedings are directly related to the matters presently at issue. See Doe v. Wohlgemuth, 505 F.2d 186 (3d Cir. 1974); see also St. Louis Baptist Temple, Inc. v. FDIC, 605 F.2d 1169, 1172 (10th Cir. 1979) (a court may look at related proceedings in other courts, if those proceedings have a direct bearing on the matters at issue).
Turning briefly to Yundt, we note that the specific question before Judge Davison was "whether any public rights exist in . . . [the] subject tract . . . located at the southwest corner of Fifth and Hamilton Street." 35 Lehigh Law Journal at 437. It was the position of defendant Yundt, the owner of the parcel of land to the immediate south of the subject tract, that he in fact was the owner of the subject tract. Judge Davison, after a review of evidence of ancient maps and indentures presented by the County of Lehigh which was the same or similar to the evidence presented to this court, concluded that title to the subject tract is in the public:
Addressing ourselves to the substance of what has been presented, we conclude that plaintiff has shown the existence of public rights in and to the subject tract by virtue of the conveyances, maps and other documents, and for the other reasons set forth herein. The 1762 William Allen Map, the 1842 Jarrett Map and the Ashbaugh Map, all evidence an intention to designate or set aside a special area at the southwest corner of Fifth and Hamilton Streets, albeit no direct reference was made therein by name to a Court House Square as such. The Proprietors-Hutler deed for the eastern one-half of Lot 193 specifically refers to the Court House Square as the eastern boundary of that conveyance. The deeds for the eastern and western halves of Lot 179 not only designated the Court House Square as their northern boundaries but also conveyed a depth of one hundred eighty-five feet as distinct from the two hundred twenty-five feet area then in existence along Fifth Street. The other lots in the block appear to extend a full two hundred twenty-five feet. The 1864 Agreement reveals the intention of the adjacent lot owners at the time to forever bar from the subject tract " . . . buildings or other structures calculated to impair . . . [the] beauty or ancient view from the buildings on said lots." We hold that public rights, preeminent to all private ownership, exist in the subject tract.