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IN THE MATTER OF THE HEIRSHIP OF HUGH McLEOD: HANNAH CRAFT v. WILLIE PRICE

OCTOBER 01, 1986

IN THE MATTER OF THE HEIRSHIP OF HUGH McLEOD: HANNAH CRAFT
v.
WILLIE PRICE, et al. AND SYSTEM FUELS, INC., et al.



BEFORE WALKER, C.J., AND SULLIVAN AND ANDERSON, JJ.

ANDERSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This is an appeal from the Chancery Court of Jefferson Davis County.

Hugh McLeod, an adult resident of Jefferson Davis County, died intestate on January 17, 1933. He had eight brothers and sisters; at the time of his death he owned with them an undivided 1/9 interest in a certain 80 acres of land. By subsequent inheritances and conveyances, this land came into the hands of the defendants in the present action.

 On February 12, 1982, - almost half a century after McLeod's death - Hannah Craft filed a petition in the Chancery Court of Jefferson Davis County alleging that she and McLeod had entered into a common law marriage in 1928. (Mississippi then allowed the creation of such marriages). By virtue of this alleged marriage, she contended that she was the sole heir at law of Hugh McLeod, and that neither McLeod's siblings nor their descendants and grantees had any interest in the land.

 All of the defendants denied that Hugh McLeod had been married to Hannah Craft or to anyone else, and further alleged that Mrs. Craft's action was barred by the statute of limitations, Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 15-1-49 (1972), or alternatively by laches.

 The record contains no explanation of why Mrs. Craft waited for 49 years to bring this action. It is alleged in the pleadings, however, that in 1981 she executed an oil and gas lease to a third party; this document purported to convey an interest in the property she claims in the present action.

 The sole assignment of error is that the chancellor erred by holding Mrs. Craft's claim barred by the statute of limitations, Mississippi Code Annotated, Section 15-1-49 (1972).

 Rarely has this Court encountered an appeal in which the issues are so simple and their necessary resolution so clear. Mrs. Craft could be adjudged McLeod's heir only through being adjudicated his common-law wife. We have no separate statute of limitations pertaining to such actions. Therefore, they are governed by MCA 15-1-49, which states:

 All actions for which no other period of limitation is prescribed shall be commenced within six years next after the cause of such action accured, and not after.

 If Mrs. Craft had any cause of action, it would have accrued only at the death of Hugh McLeod in 1933. Since that occurred rather more than six years ago, the chancellor was obviously correct in holding the action barred.

 AFFIRMED.

 WALKER, C.J., AND ROY NOBLE LEE AND HAWKINS, P.JJ., AND DAN LEE, PRATHER, ROBERTSON, SULLIVAN, AND GRIFFIN, JJ., CONCUR.

19861001 ...


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