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When there is no inconsistency on the face of a deed and, on application of the description to the ground, no inconsistency appears, parol evidence is not admissible to show that the parties intended to convey either more or less or different ground from that described. But where there are conflicting calls in a deed, or the description may be made to apply to two or more parcels, and there is nothing in the deed to show which is meant, then parol evidence is admissible to show the true meaning of the words used.
This was an action to quiet title to certain real estate situate in the City of Webster Groves, St. Louis County, Missouri. Walters and the Tuckers are the owners of adjoining residential properties fronting northward on Oak Street. Walters’ property, known as 450 Oak Street, lies to the west of the Tuckers’ property, known as 446 Oak Street. The common source of title was Fred F. Wolf and Rose E. Wolf, husband and wife, who in 1922 acquired the whole of Lot 13 of West Helfenstein Park, as shown by plat thereof recorded in St. Louis County. In 1924, Mr. and Mrs. Wolf conveyed to Charles Arthur Forse and wife the following described portion of said Lot 13: "The West 50 feet of Lot 13 of West Helfenstein Park, a Sub-division in United States Survey 1953, Twp. 45, Range 8 East, St. Louis County, Missouri…” Walters, through mesne conveyances carrying a description like that above, was the last grantee of and successor in title to the aforesaid portion of Lot 13. The Tuckers, through mesne conveyances, were the last grantees of and successors in title to the remaining portion of Lot 13. At the time of the above conveyance in 1924, there was and is now situate on the tract described therein a one story frame dwelling house (450 Oak Street), which was then and continuously since has been occupied as a dwelling by the successive owners of said tract, or their tenants. In 1925, Mr. and Mrs. Wolf built a 1 1/1-story stucco dwelling house on the portion of Lot 13 retained by them. This house (446 Oak Street) continuously since has been occupied as a dwelling by the successive owners of said portion of Lot 13, or their tenants. The controversy arose over their division line. Walters contended that her lot was 50 feet in width, east and west. The Tuckers contended that Walters’ lot was only approximately 42 feet in width, east and west. During the trial, the Tuckers adduced testimony to prove that they and their predecessors in title had asserted claim to and had exercised physical dominion and control over all of Lot 13 east of the driveway. The trial court, sitting without a jury, found the issues in favor of defendants and rendered judgment accordingly, from which plaintiff has appealed.
Was the deed inconsistent or ambiguous that it warranted the admission of parol evidence?
No ambiguity or confusion arose when the description here in question was applied to Lot 13. The description, when applied to the ground, fit the land claimed by plaintiff and could not be made to apply to any other tract. When the deed was made, Lot 13 was vacant land except for the frame dwelling at 450 Oak Street. The stucco house (446 Oak Street) was not built until the following year. Under no conceivable theory could the fact that the Tuckers’ predecessors in title (Mr. and Mrs. Wolf) thereafter built the stucco house within a few feet of the east line of the property described in the deed be construed as competent evidence of any ambiguity in the description. Neither could the fact, if it be a fact, that the Wolfs and their successors in title claimed title to and exercised dominion and control over a portion of the tract be construed as creating or revealing an ambiguity in the description.