Was asked for advice on this one, see what you think…
Here’s what I know. If you don’t like long reads, skip this one.
Farm A and Farm B joined along several consecutive lines, all marked by fences, back to at least the early 50’s. Neither deed accurately described these lines. In fact, plotting the old deeds is an exercise in futility, calling for several different tracts, some with no calls, just a mess. However, nobody questioned where the lines were, the fences were the lines. In the 80’s both farms ended up with heirs, none of them farm. Heir of Farm A rented the place out to several cattle farmers over the years. Heir of Farm B had it surveyed and divided into 4 tracts, Tract 4 supposedly being the portion adjoining Farm A. That surveyor is no longer with us. Current owner of Tract 4 bought it about 20 years ago and lives across the road from it.
The common lines are on the back side of each farm by a creek, all grown up today, probably nobody but deer hunters have been back there in years. There’s nothing of value there except some timber that would have been on Farm B based on the old fences. Farm A recently was rented to a new cattle farmer, and apparently part of the deal was to put up new fences on the boundary, so the heir has it surveyed. Here’s where a problem arises. New renter calls current owner of tract 4 to tell him he is going to cut the timber and put up a new fence, and is told it’s not his to cut. But the new survey of Farm A says it is. That surveyor is called and explains that he was following the line established by the 80’s survey of Tract 4, since there was no description in the old deeds to either farm to establish it.
The Corps of Engineers bought some property off Farm B along the creek, but not Farm A, in the early 60’s for a new lake. The Corps line is monumented along a contour, which comes near, but not all the way to the old fence line. They did get a flowage easement, which is at an 11’ higher contour, from Farm A. The surveyor that created Tract 4 in the 60’s jumped over to the Corps line and followed it back down the creek rather than following the old fence, effectively leaving the property between the Corps lines and the old fence out of any tract of the division.
A 1956 tax photo clearly shows the old fence, with cropped fields on either side. The plat showing the Corps boundary also shows the property line between the 2 being where the fence was/still is. The father of the current owner of Tract 4 is in his 80’s, grew up in the area, and he says the fence row was always known as the boundary.
At this point, I think the piece with the timber on it does not belong to the owner of Tract 4, since his deed just says he bought Tract 4 of the division, so not sure he has any say in whether the timber is cut or not. I don’t see how it belongs to Farm A either, based on an adjoining survey that appears to have been in error. I think it still belongs to the heir of Farm B, even though they thought they had sold it all. When contacted, they said they would deed whatever is left to the owner of Tract 4, since they thought they had already sold it. The kicker is, the day after the renter said he was going to cut the timber, he did.
How do you advise the owner of Tract 4?
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