1859 August 20 First Presidency Decision in Bybee v. Alvord


1859 August 20 First Presidency Decision in Bybee v. Alvord


The Legislature does not have authority to legislate away private property. The property belongs to the original owner but he should pay expenses incurred to the claimants or allow them to purchase the property.


Financial Legal


David Bybee
Benjamin Alvord


Brigham Young
Heber C. Kimball
Daniel H Wells


1859 August 20


Great Salt Lake City

Number of Pages



Legal Matters

Item sets


G. S. L. City. Aug. 20. 1859

Decision by the First Presidency in the appealed case of
David Bybee v's Benjamin Alvord.

On the 20th of June, 1859, a trial was had before the High Council in Ogden, Weber Co. U. T., between Benjamin Alvord and David Bybee, and Bybee appealed from the decision of that Council to the First Presidency of the Church.

From the minutes of that Council, as furnished to the First Presidency, it appears that Benjamin Alvord was on the 4th June, 1858, sole owner of the bridge across Weber river at East Weber, except some $100 due to Bybee, that amount being claimed as not paid to Bybee either by Alvord or the people of East Weber, as had been agreed. On the 4th of June, 1858, the legislative grant for said bridge expired, and David Bybee petitioned the Territorial Assembly for an extension of said grant. Said Assembly, at its session for 1858 did, on the 21st day of January, 1859, extend said grant "to David B. Bybee and his associates" "until the first day of January, 1862." At the time of that extension did David Bybee or the Assembly, or could any one, suppose that the Assembly did David Bybee or the Assembly, or could any one, suppose that the Assembly had the right to legislate Alvord's property into Bybee's possession with out providing for Alvord's being justly remunerated? Such legislation would be illegal, and would be set aside in any court of law and justice. It is therefore evident that David Bybee is entirely mistaken when he imagines that the Assembly either legislated or could legislate Alvord's property into Bybees' possession. again, whom could the Assembly have deemed to be Bybee's "associates" in the Act granting the extension? Obviously such person or persons, and such alone, as had ownership of or interest in the bridge at the time of the extension, not persons who had no ownership or interest therein.

It also appears that for some reasons Alvord did not look after bridge from the time he moved south until the high water of this season, when he finds David Bybee and John Smith in possession of and claiming to own his bridge. It further appears that Bybee, after the extension to him and "his associates", took his brothers, who had no right or interest in the bridge, as associates, the brothers to have one half and Bybee the other; and after some further charging through trading and otherwise, at the time of the trial the bridge is claimed and possessed by John Smith and David Bybee, Smith claiming 2/3 and Bybee 1/3. And it further appears that Smith and Bybee claim to have incurred expenses on the bridge since the extension of the grant, but to what amount does not appear in the minutes.

Can the Legislature legislate away private property. No. To whom does the bridge belong? To the person who owned it in 1858, unless some one has since brought and paid for it.

What is right between the real owner and the present claimants and possessors of the bridge?

In our judgement the present claimants and possessors of the bridge, John Smith and David B. Bybee, should deliver said bridge to Benjamin Alvord, said Alvord to pay said Smith and Bybee the amount of expense they have incurred on the bridge above the toll they have received, if the said expense exceeds said toll; or let said Smith and Bybee pay Alvord the present value of the bridge, in such event taking into account the expenses and toll since January 21, 1859.

This view of the matter leaves the right to the bridge precisely as it was previous to the extension. The river is there and the bridge is there, and the right's therein are the same as though the Legislature had not extended the grant, and will so remain, in all probability, until the 21st of Jan. 1862.

Brigham Young
Heber C. Kimball
Daniel H Wells