State. The fact that it so joins, gives him no title to that land, or to anything formed or grown upon it, any more than it does to anything formed or grown or found upon the land of any individual neighbor. Undoubtedly, in view of the importance that ice is rapidly assuming as a merchantable commodity, it would be wise for the State to legislate in reference to the ice. product of the navigable streams; but until such legislation is had, it would seem that the one who first appropriates and secures the ice which is formed is entitled to it, and on the same principle that he who catches a fish in one of those rivers owns it. Hickey v. Hazard, 3 Mo. App. 480; Gage v. Steinkrans and Rowell v. Doyle, Mass. Sup. Ct. 25 Alb. L.
There being no other questions in the case, the judgment of the
District Court will be affirmed.
3. Sale of Ice.
41 Michigan, 318. - 1879.
Campbell, C. J. - Higgins recovered below a judgment against Kusterer for the value of a quantity of ice. Kusterer claims that title never passed to Higgins, and that the property was lawfully acquired by himself from one Loder, who cut it on a pond belonging to one Coats and sold it to defendant.
The facts are briefly these: The ice in question was formed upon water which had spread over a spot of low ground partly belonging to Hendrick Coats, forming a basin, the land being dry in summer, and the rest of the year overflowed from a small brook leading into it. After the ice formed, and in February, 1878, Coats, by a parol bargain, sold all the ice in his part of the basin to Higgins, for fifty cents. The parties at the time stood near by in view of the ice, and the quantity sold was pointed out, and the money paid. The ice was then all uncut.
About two weeks thereafter John Loder, knowing that Higgins had purchased and claimed the ice, and having been warned thereof by Coats, offered Coats five dollars for the ice, which Coates accepted, and Loder cut it, and sold it to Kusterer who had made a previous verbal contract with Loder for it. Higgins was present when the ice was loaded on Kusterer's sleigh and forbade the loading and removal on the ground that he had purchased it from Coats. Kusterer referred the matter to Coats who said he had sold it to Loder.
The only question presented is whether Higgins was owner of the ice.
The case was argued very ably and very fully, and the whole subject of the nature of ice as property was discussed in all its bearings. We do not, however, propose to consider any question not arising in the case.
The record is free from any complications which might arise under other circumstances. There are no conflicting purchasers in good faith without notice. Loder and Kusterer had full notice of the claims of Higgins before they expended any money. The sale to Higgins was not a sale of such ice as might, from time to time, be formed on the pond, but of ice which was there already, and which, if not cut, would dissapear with the coming of mild weather and have no further existence. It was not like crops or fruit connected with the soil by roots or trees through which they gained nourishment before maturity. It was only the product of running water, a portion of which became fixed by freezing, and if not removed in that condition would lose its identity by melting. In its frozen condition it drew nothing from the land, and got no more support from it than a log floating on the water would have had.
Its only value consisted in its disposable quality as capable of removal from the water while solid, and of storage where it might be kept in its solid state, which could not be preserved without such removal. If left where it was formed it would disappear entirely.
While we think there can be no doubt that the original title to ice must be in the possessor of the water where it is formed, and while it would pass with that possession, yet, it seems absurd to hold that a product which can have no use or value except as it is taken away from the water, and which may at any time be removed from the freehold by the moving of the water, or lose existence entirely by melting, should be classed as realty instead of personalty, when the owner of the freehold chooses to sell it by itself. When once severed no skill can join it again to the realty. It has no more organic connection with the estate than anything else has that floats upon the water. Any breakage may sweep it down the stream and thus cut off the property of the freeholder. It has less permanence than any crop that is raised upon the land, and its detention in any particular spot is liable to be broken by many accidents. It must be gathered while fixed in place or not at all, and can only be kept in existence by cold weather. In the present case, the peculiar situation of the pond rendered it likely that the ice could not float away until nearly destroyed, but it could not be preserved from the other risks and incidents of its precarious existence. Any storm or shock might in a moment convert it into floating masses which no ingenuity of black-letter metaphysics could annex to the freehold.
It does not seem to us that it would be profitable to attempt to determine such a case as the present by applying the inconsistent and sometimes almost whimsical rules that have been devised concerning the legal character of crops and emblements. Ice has not been much dealt with as property until very modern times, and no settled body of legal rules has been agreed upon concerning it. So far as the principles of the common law go, they usually, if not universally, treated nothing movable as realty unless either permanently or organically connected with the land. The tendency of modern authority, especially in regard to fixtures, has been to treat such property according to its purposes and uses as far as possible.
The ephemeral character of ice renders it incapable of any permanent or beneficial use as part of the soil, and it is only valuable when removed from its original place. Its connection, - if its position in the water can be called a connection, - is neither organic nor lasting. Its removal or disappearance can take nothing from the land. It can only be used and sold as personalty, and its only use tends to its immediate destruction. We think that it should be dealt with in law according to its uses in fact, and that any sale of ice ready formed, as a distinct commodity, should be held a sale of personalty, whether in the water or out of the water.