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United States v. Iron Silver Mining Co., 128 U.S. 673 (1888)

United States v. Iron Silver Mining Company

No. 82

Argued and submitted November 15, 1888

Decided December 17, 1888

128 U.S. 673


Misrepresentations, knowingly made by an applicant for a mineral patent, as to discovery of mineral or as to the form in which the mineral appears, whether in placers or in veins, lodes, or ledges, will justify the government in moving to set aside the patent.

In such cases, the burden of proof is upon the government, and the presumption that the patent was correctly issued can be overcome only by clear and convincing proof of the fraud alleged. The doctrine of the Maxwell Land Grant Case, 121 U. S. 325, and of Colorado Coal & Iron Company v. United States, 123 U. S. 307, on this point affirmed.

Exceptions made by the statute cannot be enlarged by the language of a patent. The statute only excepts from placer patents, veins, or lodes know to exist at the date of application for patent.

Page 128 U. S. 674

To establish the statutory exception from a placer patent the lodes or veins must be clearly ascertained and be of such extent as to render the land more valuable on that account and justify their exploitation.

The certificate of the surveyor general is made by statute evidence of the sufficiency of work performed and improvements made on a mining claim. In the absence of fraudulent representations respecting them to him by the patentee, his determination as to their sufficiency, unless corrected by the Land Department before patent, must be taken as conclusive. His estimate is open to examination by the Department before patent, and any alleged error in it cannot afterwards be made ground for impeaching the validity of the patent.

In equity. The bill charged that two patents for placer mining claims had been obtained upon false and fraudulent representations and prayed for their cancellation. The answer denied all the allegations of fraud. The bill was dismissed, from which decree the United States took this appeal.

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