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H. ALEX TROTTER v. GADDIS & McLAURIN

MAY 30, 1984

H. ALEX TROTTER
v.
GADDIS & McLAURIN, INC., et al.



BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, PRATHER AND SULLIVAN

PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This is a suit to remove clouds upon title to two tracts of real estate filed by Gaddis & McLaurin, Inc., and Gaddis Farms against H. Alex Trotter in the Hinds County Chancery Court. Trotter asserted a claim of title to the property by adverse possession, which claim the chancellor disallowed. As to Tract No. I, the chancellor found that a written lease with an indefinite description from Gaddis to Trotter showed permissive use and precluded an adverse claim by Trotter. With respect to tract II, the chancellor held that sufficient notice had not been given to Gaddis Farms to effectively claim title by adverse possession. We reverse and render as to both tracts of land.

I.

 Appellant, Alex Trotter, is record titleholder to land in Western Hinds County described as:

 The NE 1/4 of the SW 1/4 and ten (10) acres east side of the NW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 and three and one-half (3 1/2) acres north part of the SE 1/4 of the SW 1/4 and one (1) acre in the NE corner of the SW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 of Section 19, Township 7, Range 2 West, and being in Second Judicial District of Hinds County State of Mississippi.

 This tract consisting of 54 1/2 acres was purchased by Stella Trotter from J. L. Gaddis, who was the common source of title between the Trotters and appellees, in 1916. The tract was later conveyed to George Trotter, father of appellant. In March, 1978, George Trotter conveyed his interest in the land to appellant, Alex Trotter. There is no dispute as to the 54 acres above described but it is the lands adjoining this 54 acre tract to the north and to the west that are the subject of this lawsuit.

 Gaddis and McLaurin, Inc. owns record title to land along the northern boundary of the Trotter property described as:

 The NW 1/4, less 3.85 acres in the NW corner, Section 19, Township 7 North, Range 2 West, Hinds County, Mississippi.

 Gaddis Farms owns record title to land along the western boundary of the Trotter property described as:

 All that part of the NW 1/4 of the SW 1/4 and 7.2 acres off the north end of the SW 1/4 of the SW 1/4, Section 19, Township 7 North, Range 2 West, Hinds County, Mississippi.

 Shortly after Stella Trotter purchased the Trotter property from J. L. Gaddis, a barb wire fence was constructed through a wooded area along what was believed to be the northern and western boundaries of the property. Unknown to the parties, the fence actually encroached upon the Gaddis property to the north, later to become known as Gaddis And McLaurin property (Tract I), creating a 5.5 acre dispute. The fence also encroached upon Gaddis property to the west, later to become Gaddis Farms property (Tract II), creating a 9.8 acre dispute. The proof showed this fence to be continuous and nailed to trees and posts through the woods.

 The age of the fence was shown by tree overgrowth and maintenance of the fence through the years was evidenced by the addition of barbed wire strands in certain places.

 II.

 AS TO TRACT I

 George Trotter was aware of the boundary fence his mother, Stella, had constructed in 1916, and he subsequently maintained that fence during the years he owned the property. The disputed property referred to as Tract I was cultivated and pastured by both him and his mother for over thirty years.

 Lanzy Bates lived on the Tract I property as a tenant farmer from 1923 through 1926. In 1927 he moved back, and for six or seven additional years, he raised crops and pastured cows. After Bates left Trotter's employ, he ...


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