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CRAMER V. WILSON, 195 U. S. 408 (1904)

U.S. Supreme Court

Cramer v. Wilson, 195 U.S. 408 (1904)

Cramer v. Wilson

No. 47

Submitted November 3, 1904

Decided December 6, 1904

195 U.S. 408


Where the trustee in bankruptcy sells the interest of the bankrupt in land, the purchaser acquires only the interest of the bankrupt on the day of adjudication, and no interest therein subsequently acquired by him in the property passes by the trustee's deed.

The fact that, after the sale and before the subsequent acquirement of interest, the bankrupt made an unsuccessful application to have the sale set aside for inadequacy of price is not an adjudication that the bankrupt had an interest in the property sold which passed to the purchaser. Whether a deed given by a bankrupt a year prior to the adjudication is fraudulent, or whether it was absolute or merely by way of mortgage, leaving him an equity of redemption, are not federal questions, and the decision of the state court is conclusive, and cannot be reviewed by this Court.

This was a bill originally filed February 1, 1888, in the Superior Court of Cook county by the plaintiff in error, Cramer,

Page 195 U. S. 409

under her then name of Fannie N. Dresser, against her sister, Lilly B. Dresser, Henry H. Gage, Julia Wilson, and two others for the partition of certain real estate in Chicago, for a settlement of equities or liens thereon, for a receiver, and for the removal of certain clouds upon complainant's title.

The material facts of the case are as follows: shortly before the beginning of this suit, Fannie N. Dresser was the record owner of the property in question through a patent from the United States. On January 31, 1888, the day before this suit was commenced, Fannie N. Dresser conveyed to her sister, Lilly B. Dresser, an undivided one third of the property in question. The court found this deed to have been collusive, and executed by an arrangement with the defendant Gage, who held certain tax deeds to the premises, found to be invalid, and for the purpose of filing this bill for partition, and the removal of a cloud upon the title caused by another tax deed, acquired by Frederick R. Wilson in 1864. His interest in the property was conveyed by him to his sister, Julia Wilson, in 1877. Julia Wilson was made defendant to the bill as the owner of this tax title.

It appeared, however, that Julia Wilson died on December 15, 1887, leaving Frederick R. Wilson her sole legatee and executor. The suit was then abated as to Julia Wilson, and Frederick R. Wilson was substituted as defendant in her place. The deed to this property from Frederick R. Wilson to his sister was a conditional conveyance, but, by agreement of the parties, it was subsequently treated by them as absolute, and, upon the death of Julia Wilson, in December, 1887, the property again became vested in Frederick R. Wilson as her only heir at law and next of kin, and as her sole devisee under her last will and testament. Shortly after the deed to Julia, Frederick R. Wilson went into bankruptcy, August 30, 1978, and Robert E. Jenkins was appointed his assignee. The property was subsequently ordered to be sold, and in 1889 was purchased from the assignee by one Taylor E. Snow for the sum of $250. Both Jenkins, the assignee, and Snow, the purchaser, were

Page 195 U. S. 410

made parties defendant to the bill, and subsequently filed answers and a cross-bill.

It appeared that Gage, after the beginning of the suit, bought the interest of Lilly B. Dresser, and also that the purchase by Snow at the bankruptcy sale was made in his interest, so that the real parties to this litigation are Gage, upon one side, and Wilson upon the other.

Upon the first hearing, the court entered a decree of partition denying Wilson's claim of title and holding that his interest passed to Snow by the assignee's sale. This decree was reversed by the Supreme Court of Illinois upon the ground that the plaintiff had not proved her title from the government to the property. Leave was given the parties to amend, and subsequently an amended bill was filed and answered. Upon the second hearing, the court held that the premises were the property of Frederick R. Wilson, and had been his from 1864 until 1877, when he conveyed them to his sister; that, at the time of bankruptcy proceedings in 1878, the title was in Julia Wilson, and that, upon the death of Julia Wilson in 1887, the title again vested in Frederick R. Wilson; that, at the time Frederick R. Wilson was adjudged a bankrupt, Julia Wilson was alive and vested with the title to this property, and that the defendant Snow acquired no title when he purchased all of the estate, real and personal, of the bankrupt, Frederick R. Wilson.

This decree was affirmed by the Illinois Supreme Court, 202 Ill. 83, and it is to reverse that decree that plaintiffs have taken a writ of error from this Court.

Page 195 U. S. 414

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