This section is from the book "The Law Of Real Property and Other Interests In Land", by Herbert Thorn Dike Tiffany. Also available from Amazon: A Treatise on the Modern Law of Real Property and Other Interests in Land .
Land is frequently described in a conveyance, or attempted to be described, by naming its boundaries in detail. Such a description, if properly made, is well calculated to identify the land, but frequently, owing to carelessness in making the survey on which the description is based, or in preparing the conveyance, there is difficulty in locating the named boundaries on the ground. In the case of a description by boundaries, as in other cases, the intention of the grantor, as inferred from the terms of the description, is the controlling consideration,59 and any rules which the courts may have formulated as to the relative importance of various elements of the description are merely intended as aids in arriving at this intention. Boundaries are indicated by naming natural or artificial monuments to, from, or along which they are to run, or with reference to which the corner points are established, or by stating the "courses and distances" of the boundary lines, and frequently by all these "elements" of description, as they are termed.
58. Deery v. Cary, 10 Wall. (U. S.) 263, 19 L. Ed. 887; Sanders v. Ransom, 37 Fla. 457, 20 So. 530; Sears v. King, 91 Ga. 577, 18 S. E. 830; Peoria Gas. & Electric Co. v. Dunbar, 234 111. 502, 85 N. E. 229; Young V. Cosgrove, 83 Iowa 682, 49 N. W. 1040; Erskine v. Moulton, 66 Me. 276; Sanborn v. Mueller, 38 Minn. 27, 35 N. W. 666; Corbett v. Norcross, 35 N. H. 99; Borough of Birmingham v. Anderson, 48 Pa. St. 253; Schwalm v.
A monument, for the purpose of description, may consist of an object or mark on the land, whether natural or artificial, which serves to identify the location of a line constituting a part of the boundary, and it may be either a permanent natural object, such as a river, lake, ledge of rocks, or tree, or it may be an artificial object, such as a highway, wall, ditch, or a post.
Frequently the boundary lines are defined as extending to or abutting on adjoining land, or some structure which, in its legal signification, includes the land under it, such as a house or a mill. In such a case,'the adjoining land or structure may be regarded as a monument,60 but the land conveyed ordinarily extends merely
Beardsley, 106 Va. 407, 56 S. E. 135; Simmons v. Johnson, 14 Wis. 523.
59. Reed v. Proprietors of Locks & Canals on Merrimac River, 8 How. (U. S.) 274, 12 L. Ed. 1077; Serrano v. Rawson, 47 Cal. 62; Abbott v. Abbott, 51 Me. 575; Codman v. Evans, 1 Allen (Mass.) 443; Bruensmann v. Carroll, 52 Mo. 313; White v. Gay, 9 N. H. 126, 31 Am. Dec. 224; Peck v. Mallams, 10 N. Y. 509; Miller v. Bryan, 86 N. C.
167; Browning's Adm'x v. Atkinson, 37 Tex. 633.
60. Where the description of tract A. refers to another tract, B., for the purpose of locating the boundary of A., the boundary of A. is to be adjusted with reference to the boundaries of B., as the parties supposed them to be located, rather than as they are actually located. Sullivan v. Hill, 33 Ky. L. Rep. 962, 112 S. W. 564; Whitwell v. Spiker, 238 Mo. 629, 142 S. W. 248; Staub to the side of the land or structure referred to,61 while in the case of a monument the name of which does not include the ownership of land, such as a highway, wall, or post, the land conveyed usually extends to the center thereof.62 A monument may even consist of an object not existent or a point not fixed at the time of the conveyance, but which is intended to be thereafter erected or fixed, and, when this is done, the call therefor will be of the same effect as if the monument had existed at the time of the conveyance.63 And so the boundary of the land conveyed may be fixed by reference to a street not yet laid out or opened, but intended to be laid out.64 A "course" is the direction in which a line runs, stated with reference, not to its terminus, but to its correspondence with a certain point of the compass, or its variation from the magnetic or sidereal meridan.
- Inconsistencies and ambiguities. Subject to the controlling consideration of the intention of the parties as to the meaning of the language used, the primary rule in applying a description by boundaries is that, in case of conflict, calls for fixed and known v. Hempton, 117 Term. 706, 101 S. W. 776.
61. Ross v. Richardson, 173 Ky. 255, 190 S W. 1087; City of Boston v. Richardson, 13 Allen (Mass.) 146, 154; Schwalm v. Beardsley, 106 Va. 407, 56 S. E. 135; Davis Colliery Co. v. West-fall, 78 W. Va. 735, 90 S. E. 328.
62. City of Boston, v. Richardson, 13 Allen (Mass.) 146, 154; Freeman v. Bellegarde, 108 Cal. 179, 49 Am. St. Rep. 76, 41 Pac. 289; Sleeper v. Laconia, 60 N. H. 201; Tagliaferri v. Grande, 16 N. Mex. 486, 120 Pac. 730; Warfel v. Knott, 128 Pa. St. 528, 18 Atl. 390; Schwalm v. Beardsley, 106 Va. 407, 56 S, E. 135.
A reference to a house as a monument has sometimes been regarded as referring to the edge of the eaves. Millett v. Fowle, 8 Cush. (Mass.) 150; Sherman v. Williams, 113 Mass. 481, 18 Am Rep. 522. And sometimes to the outer surface of the wall or foundation. Centre St. Church v. Machias Hotel Co., 51 Me. 413; Kendall v. Green, 67 N. H. 557, 42 Atl. 178.
63. Makepeace v. Bancroft, 12 Mass. 469; Lerned v. Morrill, 2 N. H. 197.
64. Manchester v. Hodge, 74 N. H. 468, 69 Atl. 527; Felin v. Philadelphia, 241 Pa. 164, 88 Atl. 421.
Monuments will prevail over inconsistent calls for courses and distances, monuments being from their very nature more likely to be correct than mere paper statements as to the character of an imaginary line.65 This rule is, however, not absolute, and the calls for monu65. Newson v. Pryor's Lessee, 7 Wheat. (U. S.) 10, 5 L. Ed. 382; Watkins v. King, 118 Fed. 524, 55 C. C. A. 290; Taylor v. Fomby, 116 Ala. 621, 67 Am. St. Rep. 149, 22 So. 910; Paschal v. Swepston, 120 Ark. 230, 179 S. W. 339; Kimball v. Mckee, 149 Cal. 435, 86 Pac. 1089; Riley v. Griffin, 16 Ga. 141, 60 Am. Dec. 726; Read v. Bartlett, 255 111. 76, 99 N. E. 345; Allen v. Kersey, 104 Ind. 1, 3 N. E. 557; Helbergv. Kepler, 178 Iowa 354, 159 N. W. 972; Shanahan v. Mclntyre, 169 Ky. 160, 183 S. W. 529; Pernam v. Wead, 6 Mass. 131; Stefanick v. Fortuna, 222 Mass. 83, 109 N. E. 878; Hoban v. Cable, 102 Mich. 206, 60 N. W. 466; Burnham, Heirs of v. Hitt, 143 Mo. 414, 45 S. W. 368; Blackman v. Doughty, 40 N. J. L. 319; White v. Williams, 48 N. Y. 344; Johns v. City of Pendleton, 66 Ore. 182, 46 L. R. A. (N. S.) 990, Ann Cas. 1915B, 454, 133 Pac. 817; 134 Pac. 312; Cox v. Couch, 8 Pa. St. 147; Johnson v. Archibald, 78 Tex. 96, 22 Am. St. Rep. 27, 14 S. W. 266; Schwalm v. Beardsley, 106 Va. 407, 56 S. E. 135.