On appeal from a judgment of the Ocean County Court of Common Pleas.
For the appellant, Charles B. Ferguson and George A. Bourgeois.
For the respondents, Ewart & Bennett.
Before Brogan, Chief Justice, and Justices Donges and Porter.
This is an appeal from a judgment of the Ocean County Court of Common Pleas in an ejectment suit instituted by the plaintiffs-respondents to obtain possession of a strip of sand beach about one hundred feet in width adjacent to the
high-water mark of the Atlantic ocean in the borough of Point Pleasant Beach, the defendant-appellant. The issue raised by the pleadings, developed at the trial and submitted to the jury was whether or not there had been a dedication of the lands in question to public use and an acceptance of such dedication. The jury found for the plaintiffs and judgment was entered in their favor.
A large tract of land, which included the premises involved, was owned by the Point Pleasant Land Co. in 1877 and that company laid out streets and lots. On August of 1878 that company filed in the office of the clerk of Ocean county two maps showing the locality and thereafter sold lots by reference to these maps. On these maps the entire tract was platted into numbered lots, streets and vacant spaces. A section of low land unsuitable for construction purposes was marked out as Mineral Lake. The strip of beach was not marked out into lots but was shown on the map without any designation. The appellant relies upon these maps as conclusive evidence of a dedication to public use.
The Point Pleasant Land Company came into the control of Edward H. Murphy, father of the plaintiffs, who derive their title through him from the Land Company. The paper title of the plaintiff's is not disputed.
The lands were apparently used as similar lands are used at seashore resorts for bathing, beach parties and the like. Edward H. Murphy for some years operated a bathing house at the point, renting bath houses and suits. In about 1896 a boardwalk was constructed by the borough over part of the premises. A written license and permit was obtained from Murphy by the borough for this purpose, and such permission was obtained from time to time for periods of various lengths up to 1930, after which disputes occurred between the parties over the use of the land by the borough without permission of the plaintiffs.
There is evidence that the Murphys over a period of years extending from 1896 to 1930, and later, exercised the jurisdiction of owners of the lands in question. They licensed the erection of the boardwalk; maintained a bathing beach, with poles and ropes; employed life guards; policed and cleaned
the beach; erected bulkheads; granted permission to a charitable organization to use a section of the beach for bathing by children and erected bath houses for their use. They have paid taxes assessed ...