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Possession, taken by mistake, and continued with no view to acquire title by it, is not adverse, because not hostile. It may therefore well be though it was not exactly the point decided, that it is sufficient to prevent the possession from being adverse, that the party taking it intends to hold subject to the will of an owner.
The plaintiffs (the possessors) in this ejectment claimed title to one-half of a donation tract as acquired by the statute of limitations under an entry by Reigle, their father, in 1806, and possession continued for upwards of twenty-one years. The defendant (the property owner) had the title of the original owner of the tract, and obtained possession by agreement with the widow of Reigle and her second husband in 1833. The property owner sought review of the trial court’s judgment which found in favor of the possessors.
Did the possessors gain the title to the land by the statute of limitations?
The court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. The possessors did not provide any evidence inconsistent with an intention to hold the land as long as they could. They were conscious that they had no title themselves. The possessors said they did not have title. The possessors did not say that they meant not to acquire a title to the land for themselves. Whatever the possessors said was predicated on the expected appearance of the property owner. The possessors did not mean to purchase the land from anyone else. The possessors testified that they settled on the land to hold it until a better owner came for it. They intended to hold the land adversely to the entire world until the title should be produced to them. The possessors intended to hold the land adversely to the property owner before the property owner disclosed himself as to anyone else. The sum of the evidence was that the possessors entered to hold the land as long as they could. Consequently, the possessors gained the title to the land by statute of limitations.