Glenn County - Tehama County - Colusa County , California.
(c) 2009, Mike Barkley

Transcript, Last Special Master Hearing

[A transcription of the document on file in the Angle Archives

Important because this was the last hearing in the case and shows the gloss that was being completed on riparian issues.

The transcription was made first by optically scanning through Textbridge software, and then cleaning it up. This transcript was unusually crisp for Angle transcripts, and made OCR scanning much easier, still there may be some subtle errors from the conversion.

This is in straight text with minimal HTML formatting. Any editorial comments by me are contained within brackets, "[]", which you may delete easily after downloading the "page source" to your own editing software if your browser allows source downloading. ]

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BEFORE: GEORGE E. McCUTCHEN, Esq., Special Master in Chancery.




H.C. ANGLE, et al.,



No. 30.

[handwritten] Vol. 27

Hearing at Willows, California,

Wednesday September 18, 1929



For the Plaintiff:
  • [crossed out] D.M. Parmenter, Assistant Attorney-General, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
  • [crossed out] G.A. Iverson, Special Assistant to Attorney General, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.
  • Oliver P. Morton, Special Assistant to Attorney General, Department of Justice, 721 Taft Building, Los Angeles, California.
  • Richard J. Coffey, United States Bureau of Reclamation, Berkeley, California.

    For the Defendants:
  • R.M. Rankin, Willows, California
  • H.W. McGowan, Willows, California
  • R.H. Brownell, Orland, California

    [inside cover]




    Before: George E. McCutchen, Esq., Special Master in Chancery.




    H.C. ANGLE, et al.,


    No. 30.

    Hearing at Willows, California,
    Wednesday September 18, 1929



    For the Plaintiff:
  • Oliver P. Morton, Esq.
  • Richard J. Coffey, Esq.

    For the Defendants:
  • R.M. Rankin, Esq.
  • H.W. McGowan, Esq.

  • p. 1

    MR. MCCUTCHEN: Are you gentlemen ready to go ahead/ [sic] Lets get started on this hearing, which was noticed to allow anyone to put in any further evidence they desired, and. particularly to take up the Petition of George W. Sutliff, - to present some evidence and also the application of Plaintiff to reopen the hearing for a matter on several points. I think perhaps we better take up the Sutliff matter first.
    MR. McGOWAN: I neglected to bring out the substitution but I will file that later.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: That will be filed with the Clerk of this Court I assume.
    MR. MCGOWAN: I will state I am representing Bruce H. Sutliff, et al., in the place and stead of Richard Belcher, who was their original solicitor of record, and the defendants are Bruce H. Sutliff, Ellis A. Sutliff, Emily A. Sutliff, G. W. Sutliff, and Laura Bell Griffith. I am presenting at this time an application for an Order setting aside the Order pro Confesso which was entered in this matter upon an alleged service by the Marshall I suppose, and present an affidavit wherein defendant Bruce H. Sutliff, presents in detail the facts concerning his failure to receive any service or process, and I present at the same time an Answer, together with a Petition and affidavit. I will state that Mr. Sutliff was under the impression he was never served, although there is some record that there was a complaint received at his house at one time. He was living on the ranch on Stony Creek. At any rate, it seems to be generally conceded that it would serve the

    p. 2

    ends of justice for these people to be permitted to file their pleadings and appropriate proof looking toward this very proceeding has already been entered in the case in 1924. Mr. Belcher appeared with several witnesses and offered proof as to the water rights of these defendants, under the supposition that proceedings would be instituted. However, through some inadvertence of Mr. Belcher and Mr. Sutliff, that was never done. Now with this proceeding at this time, it has the ear marks of justice all the more by reason of the fact that Mr. Imo has purchased this property and was entirely innocent of any knowledge of this proceeding, and be purchased the property from Sutliff with the idea in mind that his rights were taken care of completely, so far as any water on the ranch is concerned, and so far as this is concerned it would certainly seem proper that these pleadings be permitted to be filed and that proof be considered in evidence, and so at this time we would like to ask -- first I will present copies of the originals to the Master and ask for your recommendation and also for an order that the testimony heretofore introduced on behalf of the Sutliffs’ claim be considered in evidence in connection with these pleadings, and I am now re-offering that testimony the same as though it were offered here and now.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: There isnt [sic] any opposition to this, I take it/ [sic]
    MR. MORTON: I might add a word there foe [sic] the Master’s information. The testimony that was introduced by Mr. Belcher for the Sutliffs in the year Mr. McGowan referred to, was offered with our consent under the condition that this claim

    p. 3

    would be limited to a one-fourth appropriation, and there would be no means to show a riparlan right [not exactly]. That was the understanding and that is the way in which the matter now comes before you.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: No evidence was offered to support a riparian right/? [sic]
    MR, MORTON: No. The Plaintiff has felt this was a comprehensive ranch, - a going concern, and plaintiff has felt that this mistake made by the Sutliffs in failing to appear in this cause should be corrected, and therefore we have no objection to the carrying forward of this program that Mr. McGowan has referred to, the petition, of course, being filed with the Clerk and the recomendation of the Master, I take it, going forward with his report, and I think also the order should be separate and outside of our printed findings and conclusions. So that we will not get it complicated with that feature also there would be appropriate reference to this proceeding.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: So far as I have the authority to make such order, I will do so --
    MR. RANKIN [Rankin?]: I dont [sic] know where it appears in the record, but at some time when I appeared here before you in this matter after this testimony was taken of the Sutliffs, I made some sort of an objection to the introduction of that testimony, and it was made for the reason I didnt [sic] know the situation, although I had been informed that an Order pro Confesso against those defendants had been entered, and for that reason it was based upon

    p. 4

    the fact that they had no standing. I dont [sic] want to be in the position of withdrawing that objection made at that time, but it developing now and being shown that the Sutliff people were not properly served, I think it proper and just that they be permitted to put in this testimony, so, in view of the facts of the matter, that counsel has offered the evidence at this time and asked it be considered, as far as I am concerned, I make no objection to that procedure,
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: So far as I have the authority to do so, it will be the order that the testimony be included and considered in the record, and it will be my recommendation that the default order pro confesso be set aside. In proceedings of this kind, it is not the Government’s desire [he speaks for the government?] to foreclose any person who has any right to the water. The idea is to get all the people owning the water before the Court and determining how much each one is entitled to. I remember the testimony of the Sutliffs' and I was satisfied at the time that their failure to appear was caused by lack of understanding of the procedure rather than by any desire to abandon their rights. I imagine that the procedure will be for you to apply to the Court.
    MR. MCGOWAN: For an order?
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: For an order setting aside the default order.
    MR. MCGOWAN: I assume that should be done after the recommendations of the Master have gone in?
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: I dont [sic] know just what my authority is to

    p. 5

    attempt to make an order about some people who are no longer parties to this action in a way -- You had some matters you wanted to take up, Mr. Morton/? [sic]
    MR. MORTON: I was going to suggest there was a small matter of an appropriation for one and sixth tenths acres in the name of a little organization up around Stonyford called the Stonyford Catholic Church. There were certain inadvertencies and conditions that arose after the Order pro Confesso, which seemed to require that the Government, as a matter of good faith, should come forward and ask that this Order be vacated and this appropriation right be listed in the priority schedule. In anticipation of such request, testimony in relation to this small right was introduced conditionally upon the approval of a petition of this sort. We have asked in a petition, of which you have copies in your files, that this order be vacated and that the testimony that is now in the record be validated. I suppose it is in the form of a re-offer and admission of the testimony, and that the right be considered and set up in our findings and conclusions. I also have a general stipulation signed by counsel in the cause for plaintiffs, which authorizes and carries, attached to the stipulation, a certified copy of a deed which is a part of the chain of title in the so-called Lemon Home appropriation. I will have that stipulation duly filed and a copy during the day can be handed you for your own information and records.
    MR, MCCUTCHEN: At this time you want to offer that deed?
    MR. MORTON: Yes.

    p. 6

    MR. MCCUTCHEN: It will be received in evidence. It is annexed to the stipulation?
    MR. MORTON: Yes. I have a copy to be used by you for your information and files.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: On this Church matter - that evidence is already in. This is in fact a notice that you are going to apply for the setting aside of the Decree pro Confesso. There is no order for me to make. There is testimony in already.
    MR. MORTON: Yes. Just as in the Sutliff instance, we are asking at the time of your report to the Court you recite that the matter was presented to you in preliminary fashion and it seemed to you proper that the order be made, if that was your opinion, and we come with our Order and ask the Court to sign it,
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: I understand that there was no default taken against those people and that will be my recommendation,
    MR. RANKIN: I have pending and before the Master at the last hearing, an application for permission to file the petition in support of a right of Marguerita Williams Welch, and after that hearing I did file with the Master some three certified copies of deeds. Since that time I have had two or three conversations with Mr. Webber and it has proven a very difficult thing to unravel and find these records by reason of some uncertain metes and bounds description. I think we have that straightened out and I offer an additional deed to correct the description, a certified deed dated July 13th, 1915, executed by Catherine Houch, widow, to Frederick Houch, Jr., and ask that it be marked appropriately in this

    p. 7

    MR. MCCUTCHEN: The deed may be received in evidence,
    MR. RANKTN: In addition to that there is a Patent which should be filed which we did not have and I ordered it from Colusa by telephone, a certified copy, from Colusa yesterday and I expect it today and would like consent to file it today and if I do not receive it, that I may mail it on.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: The record will show that the certified copy of patent is offered and received today.
    MR. RANKIN: That completes that proof. I might say that only involves an area of nine acres. The evidence was all completed at the hearing except those records. Now another similar pending matter relates to the right of L. Huffmaster on whose behalf evidence was offered at the hearing also. Perhaps the Court will remember that at that time there was some additional evidence offered with the view of making a subsequent application pleading riparian right. Upon examining the pleadings I find an answer was filed some years ago and sets up a right to use the Creek for stock water only, and as to all other rights in the water he specifically disclaims, so in view of that disclaimer I concluded the Court would not be justified in re-opening the case upon an uncertain riparian claim, so Mr. Morton and I concluded we might settle it by stipulation and for that purpose we have made a stipulation as to rights for water for stock on the stream. We think at this time that should cover it.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: Do you want to file it with me or with the

    p. 8

    Clerk/? [sic]
    MR. MORTON: I thought we had better supply your files with the copy and file the stipulation with the Clerk.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: That is always more satisfactory to me. The documents have accumulated in the office and it saves me that much time if we have occasion to refer to them.
    MR. MORTON: The stipulation states the findings as they stand remain the same, except that the stipulation will be referred to in the proper place and also in the Decree, so as against the plaintiff, Huffmaster will have certain rights for stock.
    MR. RANKIN: At the last hearing, or prior to the last hearing, and because of the voluminous nature of the report, the proposed findings and judgment in this matter, and the limited time I had had to look into it, I filed a Brief of some general objections. I didnt [sic] want to go entirely without objections until I had checked up the individual defendants’ rights, and I couldnt [sic] do it in the time I had, and I would like to say now, getting these two matters settled and having fully compared and checked up the individual appropriations as found by those findings and proposed to be included in the Decree, I make no further argument upon these objections and the general matters I brought before the Master for consideration, and am satisfied that the findings as to those particular rights I mentioned are probably as broad as the evidence will permit, for those reasons I think it would probably be the proper thing for me to withdraw those objections at this time.

    p. 9

    MR. MORTON: I had one or two matters that might be of general interest if it is the proper time to speak of them. The various changes and motions that have been made this morning involve a minor amendment of the findings and of the suggested Decree in this suit. The most salutary way in which those things could be accomplished would be to have the entire findings re-printed. With that end in mind and with the idea also of having the Decree re-printed at the proper time, I presented the situation to the Department of Justice in Washington and I secured a partial approval. It seemed to me proper that the Department, inasmuch as the re-printing was desired by it, and that the question of allocation of charges of that sort was a very difficult thing in cases of this kind, it would be a proper expenditure by the Department of Justice. I have authority now, at least I have the assurance that there will be authority that we can have printed a sufficient number of copies of the Decree as finally amended and rendered, so that when we come out at the end of this case in the District Court we have complete one dooument, in which all changes and amendments will be impounded and a sufficient number of them for the use of counsel and the Commissioner and others whose interests are involved. As to the reprint of the Findings, it after all is probably not quite so necessary [no approval to reprint the Findings?]. It would be desirable to have them in complete, unblemished form in the District Court, but the next best thing would be to have the amendments that are now essential under the understandings and petitions that have come before us this

    p. 10

    morning put into some convenient form so that they can be readily attached to or made a part of the Findings which are not printed and which have been presented by the Master. In order to accomplish this purpose Mr. Webber and myself have prepared a series of explicit items - Mr. Webber is entitled to by far the largest part of the credit - and I have here the explicit items which will show what amendments will be required in the Findings and in the Decree to make them correspond with the proceedings of this morning, and which should be included in the transcript.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: This has been all checked over by counsel who are appearing in this case today?
    MR. MORTON: I think that may be said to be so in a general way. They rather trusted us to be right about the matter, I think.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: The proposed amendments will be included in the transcript and adopted.
    MR. MORTON: The date of acquisition from the United States is apparently lacking in Exhibit D, which is part of the amendemnts [sic] ahove referred to. With the Master’s consent and that of Counsel, it may be understood that this date may be later supplied in that exhibit and in the transcript?
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: That is satisfactory. We will file this list of proposed amendments at least so far as the Plaintiff's Brief [see below] is concerned, it will be considered amended.
    MR. MORTON: I think that should be referred to as your Findings and suggested Decree rather than the Plaintiff's

    p. 11

    MR. MCCUTCHEN: Possibly. I didnt [sic] want to commit myself to that at this time.
    MR. MORTON: We are suggesting amendments to the Master's Findings and Conclusions that he has already submitted. [to whom? at this point he's only marked them as received.]
    MR. RANKIN: I want to file a stipulation relating to the filing of water notice, which will be filed with the Clerk. This is a notice of appropriation. The original will be annexed to the stipulation and filed. I would like it to be received at this time.
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: Mr. Rankin files a Notice of Appropriation signed C.L. Mensing, dated March 26th, 1909, recorded in the office of the County Recorder of Glenn County, in Book 2 of Miscellaneous Records, at Page 301, on behalf of Defendant Carl A. Green. The original document is annexed to the Stipulation which is to be filed with the Clerk of the Court. The Notice of Appropriation will be received in evidence.
    MR. MORTON: I dont [sic] know if Mr. Brownell has anything to present. Did you have anything further?
    MR. BROWNELL: No, there is nothing further than those papers already filed. [Nice job, George Freeman, abandoning your client.]
    MR. MCCUTCHEN: I understand that disposes of everything you gentlemen wanted to take up this morning. The matter will be considered submitted and the taking of evidence will be closed. As soon as I have prepared a form of report it will be served upon all the parties [record of such service not found] and give them a

    p. 12

    further opportunity to cheek it over and if not satisfactory time will be fixed for filing written objections without further hearing, and then the report as amended will go forward to the Court.


    List of Proposed Amendments in Schedule mentioned on Page 10, Line 16, appears fully set out on the following pages.

    [pp. 13- 25 of that transcript, see separate transcription at "Settlement of Findings" on this web site.

    [following p. 25]



    I hereby certify that I am the duly appointed, qualified and acting phonographic reporter for the Superior Court of California in and for the County of Glenn; that I was present at the hearing of the within entitled matter and took down in shorthand notes all the proceedings had at said hearing; that the foregoing pages numbered from One to Twenty-five present a true, fair and correct transoript of the shorthand notes so taken down by me and thereafter transcribed into longhand, and are a true, fair and correct statement of such proceedings and all papers introduced and included in said transcript.

    In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 25th day of September, 1929.

    /s/ Dorothy H. Angle.

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    Return to Stony Creek Water Wars.

    --Mike Barkley, 161 N. Sheridan Ave. #1, Manteca, CA 95336 (H) 209/823-4817