THIS was an appeal from the District Court of the United States for the northern district of California.
The state of the title and a brief summary of the evidence are given in the opinion of the court.
It was argued by the Attorney General and Mr. Stanton for the United States, and by Mr. Gillet for the appellees.
The counsel for the United States stated the case, both as to the nature of the title and the evidence to support it, and then summed up the whole as follows:
Claimant derives title through Salvador and Juan Antonio Vallejo.
October 11, 1838.–Salvador Vallejo and Juan Antonio Vallejo petition their brother, M. G. Vallejo, who is styled by them 'commandante general and director of colonization of this frontier,' to grant eight leagues to each of them.
March 15, 1839.–Permission to occupy they lands they petitioned for, given by M. G. Vallejo.
September 5, 1844.–Grant by Micheltorena of sixteen leagues, more or less–'La Laguna de Lup-Yomi.' Micheltorena's name is signed to the grant. No attestation by secretary, but at the foot is this:
'Note has been made of this decree in the proper book, on folio 4. In the absence of the commandante,
Salvador Vallejo testifies that he brother got leave to occupy the land from another brother. Immediately after this permission was obtained, they stocked land with horses, cattle, and hogs. Afterwards, applied to the Governor for a title; it was sent him (S. Vallejo) by a courier. Swears that a map produced is true, but don't know if it was presented to the Governor when title was asked for. Does not say that he credited the Government with $2,500, or any other sum, out of his pay.
Juan Castenada knows the ranch was granted to the two Vallejos about 1844 or 1845, and they proceeded to occupy the land immediately after the grant, namely, in 1844 or 1845; yet he admits he knows nothing about the execution of the paper, and never was on the place in his life! This swift witness testifies, without hesitation, to the handwriting of all the Vallejos, of Micheltorena, and of Arce, being all the names on all the papers.
William D. M. Howard testifies to handwriting, of Vallejo, Micheltorena, and Arce.
Salvador Vallejo (called again) testifies that he stocked the farm and built houses, &c., on land in 1842 or 1843, and solicited title from the Governor in 1843 or 1844; applied to Alcalde Jos e de la Rosa for judicial possession. Rosa was afraid of Indians. When asked what the houses cost, he answered, 'A great deal of meat and spunk.'
Jos e de la Rosa was appointed alcalde June 22, 1845; June 25, was called on by Salvador Vallejo to give judicial possession of Lup-Yomi; did not do so, merely because 'there was a large revolution among the Indians,' which continued until the middle of August; nobody killed.
Jos e Ramon Carillo testifies that the boundaries of the ranch were natural, mountain and lake; occupied by stock in 1842 or 1843.
This constitutes the whole of the evidence. It will be seen that the grant, if made at all, was made without any previous petition, investigation, reference, or report; no map; no order of concession; no registry. Arce's certificate, (or the certificate with his name to it,) that note had been taken of this title in the proper book, is false. The proper book is here, and it contains no such thing. There is not a vestige or trace of this title, or anything like it, to be found among all the records of the Department.
This title was never produced, nor its existence publicly asserted, in any way whatever, before the 25th August, 1852, when the deed from Salvador Vallejo to the claimants was acknowledged before a notary. The deed from Juan to Salvador Vallejo is dated the 30th of December, 1849, but it was not acknowledged or recorded; nor does it appear ever to have been seen by anybody but the parties.
Salvador Vallejo and Carillo, their brother-in-law, swear that there was a sort of possession in 1842 or 1843, with some improvements, which, the former witness says, cost a great deal of meat and spunk. But they do not say, and there is no reason to believe, that the title now set up was exhibited, or the land claimed under it. Juan Castenada says the possession was not taken until after the grant in 1844 or 1845.
1. The grant is illegal, for want of a petition, map, inquiry, &c.
2. It is not proved, because a grant produced from the private custody of the claimant, without any record of it among the archives, is no grant at all.
3. It is false, forged, fabricated.
If it had been really made by the Governor at the time it bears date, why was it not recorded? Why was the false note ...