Before Thomas, P.j., Diaz, And Southwick, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Diaz, J.
DATE OF JUDGMENT: March 25, 1996
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JAMES H. C. THOMAS JR.
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: PEARL RIVER COUNTY CHANCERY COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - REAL PROPERTY
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: APPELLEES HELD TO HAVE ACQUIRED TITLE TO DISPUTED PROPERTY THROUGH ADVERSE POSSESSION
¶1. Minnie Lee Williams Friar, Frank Ray Penton, Jr., Bruce Henry Penton, and Minnie H. Penton, the appellants, contest the lower court's decision to quiet title of a disputed parcel of property in favor of Irvin F. Templett, Jr., Linda F. Templett, James P. McCormick, and Jessica McCormick, the appellees. Feeling aggrieved by this decision, the appellants argue that the chancellor erred in finding that the appellees produced clear and convincing proof of each of the elements of adverse possession. Finding this assignment of error without merit, we affirm.
¶2. This case arose from a dispute over title to a parcel of land located in Pearl River County. The parcel claimed by Ms. Friar and the Pentons is a small strip of land that is approximately 60 feet wide on the east end and runs approximately 1,315 feet to the west where it narrows to about 12-15 feet wide. It is the northern boundary of property described as the south1/3 of the SE 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of NE 1/4 of Section 26 in Township 4 South of Range 17 West, containing 13 1/3 acres, more or less.
¶3. The Templets and McCormicks claim title to the disputed tract of land based upon a series of conveyances beginning February 14, 1976. Ms. Henrietta Penton, the widow of Lawrence Penton, conveyed title to the property to Carl W. Mangus and his wife, Dortha Marie Wood Mangus, pursuant to warranty deed. In turn, the Manguses conveyed title of this property to the Templets on July 1, 1986, pursuant to a warranty deed. Thereafter, the Templets conveyed title of a two acre tract of land located in the southwest corner to the McCormicks, their daughter and son-in-law, on November 23, 1993.
¶4. Ms. Friar and the Pentons' claim to the disputed parcel of real property began with a September 4, 1942 conveyance from Pearl River County to Frank R. Penton. He died intestate leaving as his heirs-at - law his wife, Minnie H. Penton, and his three children, Minnie Lee Williams Friar, Frank Ray Penton, Jr., and Bruce H. Penton, the appellants herein. In September 1990, a quitclaim deed was executed to Ms. Friar, Frank Ray Penton, Jr., and Bruce Henry Penton, with a life estate being reserved to Minnie H. Penton.
¶5. The disputed strip of real property is located across and runs the full length of the southern boundary of the Templets and McCormicks' real property. A road known as the "southern boundary road" or "Minnie Penton Road" lies adjacent to and immediately south of the subject strip of real property. The Templets and McCormicks' south boundary fence runs along Minnie Penton Road and ties into their east and west boundary fences. Until 1994, the strip of real property was enclosed by the Templets and McCormicks' south boundary fence which ran the full length of their real property. The perimeter fence was in place when the Manguses purchased the property from Henrietta Penton in 1976 and remained in place continuously until Ms. Friar and the Pentons removed a portion of the fence along the southern boundary of the Templets and McCormicks' real property.
¶6. The Manguses testified that the southern boundary fence was standing when they purchased the property in 1976 and that they repaired and maintained that property during their ownership. Additionally, the Manguses testified that they purchased from Henrietta Penton all property which was under fence, including the disputed strip. Mr. Mangus also testified that he had leased some of the property which included the disputed strip to Dalton Penton in return for maintenance of the property. Dalton Penton pastured his livestock on the property and sold sod from the property. The Manguses testified that they raised a garden, cut timber, repaired the barn, stored cars in the barn, and posted "No Trespassing" signs on the property. Furthermore, Mr. Mangus spread the word in the McNeill community that he would shoot anyone he caught trespassing within the fenced ...