BEFORE ROY NOBLE LEE, P.J., DAN LEE AND GRIFFIN, JJ.
GRIFFIN, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:
We are called upon to interpret a mineral reservation in a warranty deed dated July 1, 1940. The language of
the reservation created no controversy for a period of at least forty years. Only oil production created varying interpretations of the language; therefore, this action.
With little dispute as to the truth, competent counsel presented the evidence to the learned chancellor. The interpretation of the evidence is the basis for the dispute. We believe the interpretation of the chancellor to be correct. To say the least in the chancellor's favor, he was not manifestly wrong and we will not disturb his findings.
The conduct giving rise to the dispute here commenced on November 24, 1939, when the Federal Land Bank conveyed real property in Clarke County to Hal Case with the following reservation:
The grantor reserves for a 25 year period beginning as of date hereof an undivided one-half interest in all oil, gas and all other minerals, except sand and gravel. Provided: if at the termination of the said 25 year period minerals herein reserved are being produced from, or mining or drilling operations for such minerals are being conducted on the said land, the above reservation will extend as long as production is obtained therefrom or mining or drilling operations are conducted thereon.
On January 25, 1940, Case conveyed to J. D. Haynes and C. B. Brashier a 1/3rd interest each in the subject property with language following the land description as follows:" less 1/2 the mineral interest retained by Federal Land Bank of New Orleans. "
July 1, 1940, Haynes, Brashier and Case conveyed the land to J. E. Toney, Sr., by warranty deed with the following reservation:
Seven-eights (7/8ths) of all minerals in the above described property is hereby reserved from this conveyance, one-half (1/2) of the minerals being reserved and retained by the Federal Land Bank and there is hereby reserved and retained by each, C.B. Brashier, J.D. Haynes, and Hal Case, one-eighth (1/8) mineral, so that each grantor retains 1/8 minerals and there is conveyed hereby 1/8 mineral interest to J.E. Toney, Sr., with right of
There was no production during the 25-year period; therefore the Federal Land Bank has no interest in the minerals. This is agreed to. It is further agreed that for a long period of time, twenty years or more, the heirs and assigns of Toney filed numerous instruments wherein their interest is set forth as 5/8ths, which of course includes a reversion from the Federal Land Bank. During the same period, the heirs and assigns of Case, Haynes and Brashier, by similar instruments, claimed a 3/8ths interest.
There was no dispute concerning the matter until a" roving land man "appeared on the scene in 1981 and informed an heir of Brashier that the 1/2 interest of Federal Land Bank reverted to Case, Haynes and Brashier, or their heirs and assigns, and not to Toney's successors.
It is not clear from the record who employed this" roving land man "but Ralph Brashier, heir of C. B. Brashier, admitted that the lawsuit was being financed by Plantation Royalty Company. The heirs and assigns of Case, Brashier and Haynes filed the action against the heirs and assigns of Toney seeking a declaratory judgment interpreting the mineral reservation in the July 1, 1940, deed from Case, Brashier and Haynes to Toney, Sr., and that the claim of the defendants be removed as a cloud on their title. Defendants answered and cross-claimed, asking that their title to the one-half interest represented by the Federal Land Bank reservation be confirmed. Numerous leaseholders were made parties to the lawsuit; however, it was stipulated that they were all neutral, took no adverse position, and did not participate in the trial of the action.
Also of interest is a Mineral Right and Royalty transfer executed by E. N. Kramer, Jr. to Ralph V. St. John and John Player on October 25, ...