This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
Some of the inferences as to the legal effect and operation of a contract, which are drawn from the terms which are in writing, are merely prima facie. Such inferences may be rebutted by the actual agreement of the parties.1 A contract for the rendition of services for which compensation is usually paid and which is silent as to compensation, means prima facie that reasonable compensation is to be paid,2 but this presumption or inference does not prevent the introduction of extrinsic evidence to show that no charge was to be made for such services.3
The conveyance of realty carries with it crops which are growing thereon at the time of the conveyance, unless such crops are reserved to the vendor. Whether this is the absolute legal effect of such a conveyance or whether it is a prima facie inference which may be explained by extrinsic evidence, is a question upon which there is a conflict of authority. In many jurisdictions it is held or assumed that such inference is merely prima facie, and that accordingly extrinsic evidence is admissible to show that there was an oral agreement between the parties, by which such crops were reserved to the vendor.4 In other jurisdictions the courts regard such oral evidence as contradicting the plain legal effect of the conveyance, and accordingly they hold that evidence of such oral agreement reserving the growing crops to the vendor is inadmissible.5 The reasons which the courts give for reaching each of these different results do not always turn on the question of the conclusive effect of such transaction as opposed to a prima facie inference only. The question is furthermore complicated with the question of the validity of an oral sale of growing crops under the Statute of Frauds.6 It is sometimes assumed that if such property is to be regarded as personalty, so that the clause of the Statute of Frauds, which deals with contracts for the sale of lands or an interest therein, does not apply, the oral reservation must be valid, since an oral sale would be valid; overlooking the fact that if the vendor retains the land and sells the crops there is no written transaction to be contradicted, while if he sells the land and reserves the crops, oral evidence of the reservation of the crops tends to contradict the legal effect of the written transaction for the sale of the land.
49Bassett v. Breen, - Me. - , 107 Atl. 832.
50 Graves v. Apt, - Mass. - , 124 N. E. 432.
1 Clark v. Townsend, 06 Kan. 650, 153 Pac. 555 [rehearing denied, Clark v. Townsend, 97 Kan. 161, 154 Pac. 1009]; Cooper v. Kennedy, 86 Neb. 119, 31 L. R. A. (N.S.) 761, 124 N. W. 1131.
2 Clark v. Townsend, 96 Kan. 650, 153 Pac. 555 [rehearing denied. Clark v. Townsend, 97 Kan. 161, 154 Pac. 10091.
3 Clark v. Townsend, 96 Kan. 650, 153
Pac. 555 (rehearing denied, Clark v. Townsend, 97 Kan. 161, 154 Pac. 1009].
4 Indiana. Harvey v. Million, 67 Ind. 90 [overruling. Turner v. Coal, 23 Ind. 56, 85 Am. Dec. 449].
Nebraska. Cooper v.' Kennedy, 86 Nob. 119, 31 L. R. A. (N.S.) 761. 124 N. W. 1131.
North Carolina. Walton v. Jordan. 65 N. Car. 170.
Ohio. Baker v. Jordan, 3 O. S. 438
Pennsylvania. Backenstoss v. Stahler, 33 Pa. St. 251, 75 Am. Dec. 592.
"A deed purports to convey the realty. But what is the realty? Growing corn may be part of it, for some purposes, but it is generally to be considered as personalty. If the parties to a deed, either by words or their be-havior, signify their understanding, that as between them it is personalty, the law will so regard it, and will respect their intention in the construction of the deed. When the evidence of such understanding is produced, it is not to contradict the deed, for with that it is perfectly consistent; but it is to show that what in some instances would go with the lands as part of the realty, was, in that case, converted into personalty by the will of the parties, and thus to hold the deed to its true meaning and effect." Baker v. Jordan. 3 O. S. 438.
5 Gibbons v. Dillingham, 10 Ark. 9, 50 Am. Dec. 233; Smith v. Price, 30 111. 28, 89 Am. Dec. 284; Adams v. Watkins, 103 Mich. 431, 61 N. W. 774; Kammrath v. Kidd, 89 Minn. 380, 99 Am. St. Rep. 603, 95 N. W. 213.
"Error is assigned upon the order of the court in refusing to admit oral testimony to the effect that, in addition to the money consideration expressed in the deed, appellant was to retain his interest in the growing crops. The testimony was refused upon the ground that it tended to change the terms of the contract as expressed in the deed. In this ruling we think the court was correct. In this state the law is settled that growing crops, such as wheat and oats, are attached to and become a part of the real estate, and are transferred by a conveyance of the land, unless expressly reserved. Erick-son v. Paterson, 47 Minn. 525, 50 N. W. 699; Cummings v. Newell, 86 Minn 130, 90 N W. 311. The record is silent as to the nature of the preliminary contract, whatever it was, and we must assume that it was merged into the deed, which, according to its terms, carried the crops. The parol testimony offered was not admissible upon the ground that an agreement to retain the crops by the grantor was part of the consideration of the conveyance The true consideration may generally be shown, but, when evidence offered for such purpose will have the effect to restrict the legal operation of the covenants, it is incompetent. Rooney v. Koenig, 80 Minn. 483, 83 N. W. 399." Kammrath v. Kidd, 89 Minn. 380, 99 Am. St. Rep. 603, 95 N. W. 213. 6 See Sec. 1277.