Drama with Texas Deed

            So what was going on in 1895?

In the United States (according to Wikipedia), the sport of volleyball was invented by William G. Morgan at Holyoke, Massachusetts.  The first American professional football game was played in Latrobe, Pennsylvania between the Latrobe YMCA and the Jeannette Athletic Club (Latrobe wins 12-0). George B. Selden was granted the first U.S. patent for an automobile.  Oscar Hammerstein opened the first theatre to be built in New York City’s Times Square District.  And the gold reserve of the U.S. Treasury was saved when J.P. Morgan and the Rothschilds loaned $65 million in gold to the U.S. Government.

Internationally (according to Tchaikovsky’s ballet “Swan Lake” opened in St. Petersburg. Frederick E. Blaisdell patented the pencil. Wilhelm Roentgen of Germany discovered x-rays. Alfred Nobel established the Nobel Prize.  The first shipment of canned pineapple from Hawaii was received. The world’s first movie theater opened in Paris. And Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” opened in London.

In Texas?  There was drama with respect to the sale of a parcel of real property. This sale ended up in a court case.  It seems there was man with the initials of C.C.A. who was interested in acquiring a piece of land.  The court’s opinion doesn’t say how C.C.A. knew about this land, or why he wanted it, or what he planned to do with it.  But it’s clear that C.C.A. wanted it.

The land was owned by a husband and wife with the last name of Bargas.  The court opinion doesn’t say how C.C.A. knew Bargas, and the opinion doesn’t say if they were friends.  The opinion doesn’t even say whether or not the property was for sale, and it doesn’t say whether C.C.A. ever tried to buy the property.

But the opinion does say what happened on June 3, 1895.  On that day, C.C.A. took with him a notary public, and went to visit the home of Mr. Bargas, who was one of the owners of the property. The court opinion notes that on the same day, Mr. Bargas was dying, and that he was unconscious, and was incapable, both physically and mentally, of performing any act.  Before C.C.A. went to visit the property owner, he wrote out a warranty deed which purported to transfer title to the property from Mr. Bargas to C.C.A.  When C.C.A. and the notary public arrived at Mr. Bargas’ home, they found Mr. Bargas unconcious, dying, unable to raise his hand, and completely unaware of anything.  After finding Mr. Bargas in this condition, C.C.A. (or the notary) raised Mr. Bargas “from his dying bed, took his helpless hand, touched it to a pen, and then with the said pen . . . made a cross mark . . . and above the cross wrote the words “his,” and below it the word “mark.”

There was no evidence that Mr. Bargas ever acknowledged the deed or knew it existed.  Instead, the evidence showed “beyond doubt” that Mr. Bargas was “wholly unconscious” after the deed was signed up until the time of his death, which occurred on the same day, a short time afterwards.

On these facts, the Texas court found the deed and the cross mark to be a “forgery. ” The court found that because Mr. Bargas knew nothing about the deed or its execution, the deed was never intended by Mr. Bargas to convey title, and the deed was never delivered by him to C.C.A.  The Texas court therefore found that the deed was completely ineffective to convey title to C.C.A.

There are other facts of the case not recited here.  The case is reported as Abee v. Bargas (1901) 65  S.W. 489.

The rules concerning conveyances of title to property can be complex, and results can vary.  Persons considering matters or issues involving deeds or other transfers of title to property should consult appropriate legal counsel.

Copyright 2017 ROBERT B. JACOBS