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FROSCH v. WALTER.

decided: April 7, 1913.

FROSCH
v.
WALTER.



APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

Author: Holmes

[ 228 U.S. Page 109]

 MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a bill in equity brought by Catharine Frosch against a trustee under a deed to compel him to transfer

[ 228 U.S. Page 110]

     to her or otherwise according to the construction of the instrument certain of the property conveyed by the deed. Other parties in interest are joined, and argument has been heard on their behalf. The facts are as follows: John Walter, the plaintiff's father, executed the deed on June 18, 1869. At that time his first wife had died leaving five children of whom the plaintiff is one, and he had married again.

Two of these children, John Walter, Junior, and William Walter, were of age. On the date mentioned their father gave them severally certain property in fee simple, and then made the deed before us, reciting therein that he was "desirous of making provision for his children by his first wife, to-wit: Catharine Magdalena Sophia Walter, [the plaintiff,] George N. Walter, and Mrs. Barbara King," these three then being under age. The final limitation is the one to be construed, but it will be understood better when the previous ones have been summed up.

The deed conveys to John Walter, Jr., certain parcels of land in trust, after certain contingent prior payments and after the death of the grantor, to hold the first named parcel and pay the rents and profits to the plaintiff for life and then to hold for the use of her children in fee. It similarly disposes of a bond for $10,000, given by John Walter, Jr., to his father as part consideration for the above mentioned gift to him, stating that it is "in order to equalize the division of my property between my said children." Then comes a gift of the second and third parcels upon like limitations and trusts for another daughter, Mrs. Barbara King, and also of secured notes for $7300, like the gift of the bond for Catharine, "in order more fully to equalize the division of his property, among his children." The fourth parcel is given upon similar trust for George N. Walter, the yougest son.

Then comes the doubtful clause. "In the event of the death of any one of the above-mentioned children of the

[ 228 U.S. Page 111]

     said John Walter, Senior, to-wit: Catherine, George & Barbara, without leaving any child or children or any issue of any child or children, then and in that case that the property held in trust by said Trustee, party of the second part, for the benefit of the party then dying without issue, shall be sold by said party of the second part, after the death of John Walter, Senior, and the proceeds paid over in equal portions to the surviving children of the said John Walter, Senior." John Walter, Senior, died on April 12, 1907. Before that date George had died in 1892 unmarried, and it is the disposition to be made of his share that is in question here. Barbara had died on August 23, 1904, leaving eight children, defendants herein, and John Walter, Jr., had died on November 17, 1906, leaving two children, defendants herein. William Walter, who with John had been provided for separately, survives and also is made a defendant. The grantor's second wife afterwards died, childless, and he married a third wife, who died leaving four children, also defendants in this suit. It may be remarked, if in any way material, that the grantor in 1900 provided for these last mentioned children by gifts similar to the above, subject like them to a life estate in himself.

To begin with the claim of the children of the third marriage, we are of opinion that it is unfounded. The word heirs if used as a term of purchase in a will, might be held to reach forward and to signify whoever might turn out to be such by the law in force and applicable at the testator's death. But this is a deed and the word is children. In view of what we have to say further, it is enough to state our opinion that the word as here used is confined to persons who answered the description at the moment when the deed was executed and spoke.

The Court of Appeals held that all persons were em braced who answered that description at that time provided they survived ...


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