Texas Can Top That
January 4, 1936
I have examined the abstract of title in seven parts covering the south 236 1/2 acres out of Edmondson Survey in ____________________ County which you are preparing to buy and herewith render my opinion.
Don't buy the * * * land. It has been my sorrow and burden to look over several horrible examples of a title examiner's nightmare, but this alleged title takes the cut glass fly swatter. It is my private belief that you couldn't cure the defects in this title if you sued everybody from the Spanish Government (who started this mess) on down to the present possessor of the land, who is in there by virtue of a peculiar instrument optimistically designated by the abstractor as a "general warranty deed."
In the first place, the field notes of the Spanish Grant do not close; I don't think it possible to obtain a confirmation grant since the last unpleasantness in 1898. In the second place, there were 19 heirs of the original grantee, and only three of them joined in the execution of the conveyance unto the next party in this very rusty chain of title, which is a major defect in the first place. We might rely on limitation here, except that I am reliably informed that nobody has succeeded in living on this land for a period of two years before dying of malnutrition. Laches might help out, but anybody who undertakes to buy land under a title acquired by laches is like the man who sets out to carry the cat home by the tail -- he is going to acquire experience that will be of great value to him and never grow dim or doubtful.
The land has been sold for taxes eight times in the last 40 years. The last purchaser sued the tax collector a month after he bought it for cancellation of the sale on the ground of fraud and misrepresentation. He doubtless had grounds, but this incident will give you a rough idea of what kind of muzzle-loading smoothbores have been fritzing the title. Nobody has ever redeemed one of these tax sales -- glad to be rid of it, no doubt.
On January 1, 1908, a gentleman who appears suddenly out of nowhere, by the name of Ellis Gretzberg, executed a quit claim deed, containing a general warranty of title (!!!) to one Peter Parkinson. Parkinson, the prolific old Billy Goat, dies, leaving two wives and seventeen children, legitimacy of two of them being severely contested. I am not being funnier than the circumstances indicate. He actually left two wives and it appears never to have been legally adjudicated who he done wrong by. Each of the ladies passed away in the Fear of God and Hope of a Glorious Resurrection and left a will devising this land to her respective brats. A shooting match between the two sets of claimants seems to have assisted the title slightly by reducing their number to six and substituting 11 sets of descendants. One of the prevalent causes of defect in this title seems to be the amorous proclivities and utter disregard of consequence prevailing in this neighborhood.
Your prospective vendor derives title by virtue of an instrument concerning which I have previously remarked. It is executed by a fair majority of one set of the offsprings of Peter (Prolific) Parkinson, and is acknowledged in a manner sufficient to pass a county clerk with his fee prepaid. Outside of the fact that it does not exactly describe the property under search, the habendum clause is unto the grantors, the covenant of general warranty does not warrant a thing, and it is acknowledged before it is dated, I suppose it is all right.
I might mention that this land was the subject of trespass to try title suit between two parties who appear in the abstract for the first time and one of them recovered judgment awarding title and possession. We may waive this as a minor defect, comparatively speaking.
I would advise you to keep the abstracts if you can. It is a speaking testimonial to the result of notaries public drawing instruments, county clerks who could put a menu on record if a fee was tendered, and jacklegged jugheads posing as lawyers.
You can buy this land if you wish. There are at least 573 people who can give you as good title as your prospective vendor, not counting the heirs of the illegitimate son, Prather Linken, who died in the penitentiary in 1889.
Yours very truly,
P.S. You owe me $200 for headache powder.
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