Masters v. Haynes, 169 Ark. 1177 (1925)

Dec. 21, 1925 · Arkansas Supreme Court
169 Ark. 1177

Masters v. Haynes.

Opinion delivered December 21, 1925.

*1179W. J. Dungcm, for appellant.

J. F. Summers and J. F. Summers, Jr., for appellee.

Hart, J.,

(after stating the facts). The decision of the chancery court was correct. According to the testimony of the plaintiff himself, about five acres of the land in controversy was in his field, and he was cultivating it at the time he obtained the quitclaim deed. He acquired the quitclaim deed for the very purpose of using it as color of title fo obtain title to the land by adverse possession. Before he could do this he should have relinquished his possession of the land and have again taken *1180possession of it under his quitclaim deed. Instead of doing this, he continued in possession of the five acres in the same way as before securing the quitclaim deed. According to the testimony of Mrs. Wallace Haynes, he was holding this possession'by permission from her. All the attendant circumstances corroborate her' testimony. Wesley Masters, the brother of Avery Masters, lived on the land from 1884 up to a short time before his death in 1896. He cultivated the cleared land, and paid taxes on all of it. Then he built a new house on an adjoining tract, but continued to cultivate the cleared land, and to pay the taxes on all of it. After his death his widow continued to cultivate the cleared land, and to claim all of it as a part of her homestead. She also continued to pay the taxes on the 'whole tract.

It is true that she first testified that M. A. Harris had conveyed the. land in question to her husband, and afterwards a deed was found on record which showed that Harris had conveyed to Wesley Masters an adjoining tract of land. The evidence, however, shows that Harris did not own the adjoining tract of land, and it is fairly inferable that he intended to convey to Wesley Masters the tract, of land in question, and by mistake described an adjoining tract. This is shown by the fact that Harris lived on the tract in question at the time he executed .the deed to Wesley Masters, and that he moved off of the land when he executed the deed, and Wesley Masters moved into the house which Harris had vacated.

It is true that under the rule announced in Ward v. McMath, 153 Ark. 506, Harris was a necessary party in a suit to reform the deed executed by him to Wesley Masters; but the plaintiff is not in any wise prejudiced by the action of the court in reforming the deed. The reason is that .he had no title whatever to the land, and is in no wise interested in it. Under the evidence presented in the record, M.. A. Harris intended to convey the land in controversy to Wesley Masters, and 'by mistake conveyed Another tract. An equitable estate in the *1181land, however, passed to Wesley Masters, who died intestate. Mrs. Wallace Haynes, his widow, and .Sherman, Masters, his son and sole heir at law, had a right to protect their interests in the land in the present suit. Knight v. Glasscock, 51 Ark. 390.

In order to protect their equitable estate in the land, the chancery court properly dismissed the complaint of the plaintiff for want of equity, and canceled the quitclaim deed which had been executed to him as a cloud upon the equitable title of Mrs. Wallace Haynes and Sherman Masters.

It follows that the decree will be affirmed.