If, from what we have said, we have in mind the facts giving rise to the rules cited, we may well look to the facts of this case to properly distinguish it. The subject of the dispute is an aerolite of about sixty-six pounds weight, that " fell from the heavens " on the land of the plaintiff, and was found three feet below the surface. It came to its position in the earth through natural causes. It was one of nature's deposits, with nothing in its material composition to make it foreign or unnatural to the soil. It was not a movable thing " on the earth." It was in the earth, and in a very significant sense immovable; that is, it was only movable as parts of earth are made movable by the hand of man. Except for the peculiar manner in which it came, its relation to the soil would be beyond dispute. It was in its substance, as we understand, a stone. It was not of a character to be thought of as " unclaimed by any owner," and, because unclaimed, " supposed to be abandoned by the last proprietor," as should be the case under the rule invoked by the appellant. In fact, it has none of the characteristics of the property contemplated by such a rule.

We may properly note some of the particular claims of appellant. His argument deals with the rules of the common law for acquiring real property, as by escheat, occupancy, prescription, forfeiture, and alienation, which it is claimed were all the methods known, barring inheritance. We need not question the correctness of the statement, assuming that it has reference to original acquisition, as distinct from acquisitions to soil already owned by accretion or natural causes. The general rules of the law by which the owners of riparian titles are made to lose or gain by the doctrine of accretions are quite familiar. These rules are not, however, of exclusive application to such owners. Through the action of the elements, wind and water, the soil of one man is taken and deposited in the field of another; and thus all over the country, we may say, changes are constantly going on. By these natural causes the owners of the soil are giving and taking as the wisdom of the controlling forces shall determine. By these operations one may be affected with a substantial gain, and another by a similar loss. These gains are of accretion, and the deposit becomes the property of the owner of the soil on which it is made.

A scientist of note has said that from six to seven hundred of these stones fall to our earth annually. If they are, as indicated in argument, departures from other planets, and if among the planets of the solar system there is this interchange, bearing evidence of their material composition, upon what principle of reason or authority can we say that a deposit thus made shall not be of that class of property that it would be if originally of this planet and in the same situation? If these exchanges have been going on through the countless ages of our planetary system, who shall attempt to determine what part of the rocks and formations of especial value to the scientist resting in and upon the earth, are of meteoric acquisition, and a part of that class of property designated in argument as " unowned things," to be the property of the fortunate finder instead of the owner of the soil, if the rule contended for is to obtain? It is not easy to understand why stones or balls of metallic iron, deposited as this was, should be governed by a different rule than obtains from the deposit of boulders, stones, and drift upon our prairies by glacier action; and who would contend that these deposits from floating bodies of ice belong, not to the owner of the soil, but to the finder? Their origin or source may be less mysterious, but they, too, are " tell-tale messengers " from far-off lands, and have value for historic and scientific investigation.

It is said that the aerolite is without adaptation to the soil, and only valuable for scientific purposes. Nothing in the facts of the case will warrant us in saying that it was not as well adapted for use by the owner of the soil as any stone, or, as the appellant is pleased to dominate it, "ball of metallic iron." That it may be of greater value for scientific or other purposes may be admitted, but that fact has little weight in determining who should be its owner. We cannot say that the owner of the soil is not as interested in, and would not as readily contribute to, the great cause of scientific advancement as the finder, by chance or otherwise, of these silent messengers. This aerolite is of the value of $101, and this fact, if no other, would remove it from uses where other and much less valuable materials would answer an equally good purpose, and place it in the sphere of its greater usefulness.

The rule is cited, with cases for its support, that the finder of lost articles, even where they are found on the property, in the building, or with the personal effects of third persons, is the owner thereof against all the world except the true owner. The corectness of the rule may he conceded, but its application to the case at bar is very doubtful. The subject of this controversy was never lost or abandoned. Whence it came is not known, but, under the natural law of its government, it became a part of this earth, and, we think, should be treated as such. It is said by the appellant that this case is unique, that no exact precedent can be found, and that the conclusion must be based largely upon new considerations. No similar question has, to our knowledge, been determined in a court of last resort. In 15 American and English Encyclopaedia of Law, page 388, is the following language: " An aerolite is the property of the owner of the fee upon which it falls. Hence a pedestrian on the highway, who is first to discover such a stone, is not the owner of it; the highway being a mere easement for travel." It cites the case of Maas v. Amana Soc, 16 Alb. Law J. 76, and 13 Ir. Law T. 381, each of which periodicals contains an editorial notice of such a case having been decided in Illinois, but no reported case is to be found. Anderson's Law Dictionary states the same rule of law, with the same references, under the subject of "Accretions." In 20 Alb. Law J. 299, is a letter to the editor from a correspondent, calling attention to a case determined in France, where an aerolite found by a peasant was held not to be the property of the " proprietor of the field," but that of the finder. These references are entitled, of course, to slight, if any, consideration, the information as to them being too meagre to indicate the trend of legal thought. Our conclusions are announced with some doubts as to their correctness, but they arise not so much from the application of known rules of law to proper facts as from the absence of defined rules for these particular cases. The interest manifested has induced us to give the case careful thought. Our conclusions seem to us nearest analogous to the generally accepted rules of law bearing on kindred questions, and to subserve the ends of substantial justice. The question we have discussed is controlling in the case, and we need not consider others.