John Hooker's Legal Brief re: Mossuck and Claim


[Note:  This document has no recognizable date, though it has to be in 1841 or later, the date John Hooker began his law practice in Farmington.  The memorandum represents the evaluation of the potential claims that Salina Mossuck, the daughter of Daniel (1747-1782) and Prudence Mossuck.  To date, we have not discovered any suit to have been filed in the matter.  No further information on Salina Mossuck has been located either.]

Farmington Records, Vol. 1 p. 43[1] – is the record of the town grant to the Indians “to be kept for the use and benefit of the Indians and their posterity”  1673
See also the survey and map of the Indian grant in the Town Clerks' office wherein the land in question is put down as Solomon Mossuck's[2]
Daniel Mossuck was the son of Solomon Mossuck.  He (Daniel) died about 1780.  Salina Mossuck the present claimant is his daughter.[3]  He left a widow named Prudence Mossuck. Daniel Mossuck had occupied this lot and had a barn on it, known since as the Mossuck Barn, now gone to decay or removed.
Vol. 28, p. 152.  Dec 1, 1789.[4]  John Hart as administrator of Daniel Mossuck conveys the land to John Mix, who on the 3rd of December 1789 conveys it back to Hart.  The consideration of the former deed is £4.7 shillings[5] that of the latter is £25.
These conveyances are void as being contrary to law, the administrator having no right to buy in the property, even though it be done indirectly through a third person.  Moreover, he allowed the estate only £4.7s while the land was sold by him within a year for £24.  At this point therefore the defective title commences, the legal title to the property still remaining in the Mossuck family.  For Mix’s deed to Hart, see Vol. 28 p. 153[6]
Vol. 28. p. 299.  Aug 2, 1790.[7]  John Hart conveys to Timothy Root for £24.  A few days before this (July 9, 1790)[8] (Vol. 28. 457) he had procured a quitclaim deed from Prudence Mossuck, the widow, conveying the land to him for a term of 99 years.  It would seem from this that Hart was aware of the infirmity of his title and sought to strengthen it in this way, but as she had only a life interest, her deed could convey no interest after her death*
The deed of Hart to Mix is probably void on entirely other ground also as well as that before stated.  It does not set forth that it was sold to pay debts of the estate, but merely says that it is sold by order of the Judge of Probate, the former would probably be necessary to make a valid conveyance of it.[9]
No later conveyances appear on record – the land having since remained in the Root family.
In the deed of Hart to Timothy Root and in some other deeds, above referred to, this land is described as being a part of the Indian reservation or grant, and in all the deeds as being 5 acres in quantity.
Title by possession cannot be obtained in the land reserved for the Indians as against the claims of the Indians themselves, See Statutes, Edition of 1838, p. 357.[10]
As to the equity of the case, 1.  The claim to the land would seem to be supported by the original design of the reservation, which was for the benefit of the Indians and their posterity, and it was probably supposed that they would occupy the lands in an Indian settlement forever.
2.  It would seem as if the Mossuck family were defrauded in the administrators taking the land for £4.7s and selling it within 8 months for £24.  It was moreover called £24 within 3 days of the time when the administrator took it. If really worth that the land was taken by the administrator at about £20 less than the value.  He appears 6 months after to have given the widow £12 for a conveyance for 99 years.  Whether this was ever given can not be known except by the deed, which was made what he pleased as she could probably neither read nor write as this deed was expressly forbidden by law, under a heavy penalty he ought to claim no benefit for it).  If he really paid it, it did the children no good as it was paid for a title that she could never give and for which the children and not the widow should have been paid.  However, allowing the £12, it leaves about £8 still of which the estate was defrauded.
3.  The claimant is one of the ancient tribe of Indians – a race passed away and for whom our sympathies are justly excited.  If she has any fair claim to any portion of the inheritance of her father, it would seem as if every sympathy in the case should be with her.  She is now advanced in life and will have to be supported as a pauper unless the land is recovered.  She appears honest and respectable.  The land was the old homestead of her father.  His house stood across the way and this was the home lot.  If the land is legally hers, why should she not claim it.
4.  She has lost the use of the land for many years.  This she can recover of nobody, except for the last 6 years and this I have not heard her speak of claiming.  Is no this loss, a sufficient set off for the small benefit which her father's estate received from the £4.7 allowed by the administrator for the land.
The present possessor of the land has full remedy against those of whom he had the land and ultimately of the heirs of John Hart.

[1] Copy of Confirmation of Tunxis Indian Deed, 1673.05.22.00, FLR 1:43
[2] Map
[3] There is no further information on Salina (Celina) Mossuck that could presently be found.
[4] Deed from John Hart to John Mix, 1789.12.01.00, FLR  28:152
[5] The deed indicates the sum of 7 pence instead of 7 shillings.
[6] Deed from John Mix to John Hart, 1789.12.03.00, FLR 28:153
[7] Deed from Dr. John Hart to Timothy Root, 1790.08.02.00, FLR 28:299
[8] Lease from Prudence Mossuck to John Hart, 1790.07.09.00, FLR 28:457
[9] A Court of Probate in Farmington granted letters of administration on the estate of Daniel Mossuck to Prudence Mossuck on May 6, 1782.  Farmington Probate Records, 2:251.
[10] While the memo cites an 1838 version, the law prohibiting the pleading of possession against Indians from at least 1726.The 1784 version, which most likely applied in 1789 and 1790 read as follows: It is further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, that when and so often as any suit shall be brought by any Indian or Indians for the recovery of any lands reserved by the Indians for themselves, or sequestered for the use and benefit of the Indians, by order of this Assembly, or by any town, agreeable to the laws of this State; that the defendant or tenant shall not be admitted to pleas in his defence his possession, or any way take benefit of the law, entitles, "An Act for the quieting Men's Estates, and avoiding of Suits," made May the 8th, 1684.