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BERTHA GOODWIN, EVAN GOODWIN, EMMA GOODWIN, LOREE GOODWIN, JOHN MILAM & JAMES M. NASH v. O. R. McMURPHY

MAY 11, 1983

BERTHA GOODWIN, EVAN GOODWIN, EMMA GOODWIN, LOREE GOODWIN, JOHN MILAM & JAMES M. NASH
v.
O. R. McMURPHY, C. H. McMURPHY, CHARLES B.GOODWIN, LUCILLE D. GOODWIN, VERA GOODWIN, JONES HAROLD GOODWIN, NORA MILAM & MARK GOODWIN



BEFORE PATTERSON, ROY NOBLE LEE and ROBERTSON

ROY NOBLE LEE, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

O. R. McMurphy and nine other heirs-at-law of J. C. F. Goodwin and Emma L. Goodwin, his wife (Goodwins), both deceased, filed suit in the Chancery Court of Clarke County, Honorable William Neville, presiding, against Bertha Goodwin, Evan Goodwin, Emma Goodwin, Loree Goodwin, John Milam and James M. Nash, to establish their heir interests in Goodwins' lands (which would require cancellation of a Goodwins deed on the homestead property).

At the conclusion of the trial, the chancellor found that a deed from J. C. F. Goodwin to A. E. Goodwin, his son, upon which the defendants based their title, was not signed by his wife and was void. A decree was entered canceling the deed, and the defendants have appealed and assign the following errors in the trial below:

 (1) The chancellor's findings of fact concerning the mother's signature or approval of the deed and the intent of the parent are manifestly wrong.

 (2) The chancellor's findings are contrary to Mississippi Code Annotated 89-5-13 (1972) concerning

 the validity of deeds recorded for over twenty years.

 (3) The chancellor erred in not upholding the affirmative defenses as to adverse possession, the statute of limitations and laches.

 The appellants first contend the finding by the lower court that Mrs. Emma L. Goodwin, wife of J. C. F. Goodwin, did not sign the deed and did not authorize her signature on same, was manifestly wrong.

 J. C. F. Goodwin and Emma L. Goodwin were the parents of thirteen children. Mrs. Goodwin died intestate in 1953, and Mr. Goodwin died intestate in 1955. Goodwin owned 117 acres of land in Clarke County, Mississippi, on which he and his wife resided as their homestead. Of the thirteen children, A. E., Bertha, Evan, Loree and Emma Goodwin were all single and lived with their parents on the homestead. Another son, Mack Goodwin, was single, worked away from home and came to the homestead on weekends.

 Mr. Goodwin desired to provide a home for his single children, and, on December 16, 1952, he executed a deed covering the homestead to A. E. Goodwin, his oldest child. He obtained the deed form from the chancery clerk's office. It was filled in and completed by Gussie Goodwin Smith, another daughter, at the instruction and direction of Mr. Goodwin. The deed contained the following paragraph:

 My 4 Single daughters, Bertha, Evan, Emma Lee Loree and one Single Son Mack shall have a home as long as each lives & stays single and want it for their home.

 Gussie Goodwin Smith testified that she and Mr. Goodwin went to Quitman, obtained the blank deed form from the chancery clerk, and drove back to the homestead where a description was taken from the original deed; she wrote the deed according to the direction of Mr. Goodwin; they returned to Quitman where they were advised that the deed would have to be acknowledged before it could be recorded; and then they drove to the home of W. E. Eddins, a justice of the peace, who notarized the deed without any questions concerning the signatures. The deed was executed December 16, 1952, but was not filed for record until December 8, 1953.

 On June 2, 1959, A. E. Goodwin executed a warranty

 deed conveying the homestead property unto Bertha, Evan, Emma and Loree Goodwin, the single sisters, l which instrument was acknowledged before W. E. Eddins, justice of the peace, but was not filed for record until September 15, 1961. The instrument purported to convey "my interest in" the ...


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