Possession only raises a presumption of title. One who takes property from the possession of another can only rebut this presumption by showing a superior title in himself, or in some way connecting himself with one who has. One who acquires possession has a right against a mere wrongdoer who is a stranger to the property. Any other rule leads to an endless series of unlawful seizures and reprisals in every case where property once passes out of the possession of the rightful owner.
The possessor of personal property filed action to recover the possession of 93 pine logs with damages. The possessor claimed that he cut the logs in question and hauled them to a mill from which place strangers took them. The logs in controversy were not cut upon the land of the strangers, and consequently they were entire strangers to the personal property. The trial court entered a judgment for the possessor even though it had found that the possessor had trespassed upon the land in question.
Is possession of personal property sufficient title to enable the possessor to recover the property from a stranger who took the property?
The court affirmed and found that plaintiff obtained possession of the logs in the first instance by trespassing upon the land of some third party. When it was said that to maintain replevin plaintiff's possession must have been lawful, it meant that it must have been lawful as against the person who deprived him of the property. Possession was good title against the entire world except those having a better title. Possession only raised a presumption of title. One who took property from the possession of another could only rebut the presumption by showing a superior title in himself or in some way connecting himself with one who had superior title. The court held that one who acquired the possession of property, whether by finding, bailment, or by mere tort, had a right to retain that possession as against a mere wrongdoer who was a stranger to the property.