Keen v. Keen, 201 U.S. 319 (1906)

Author: U.S. Supreme Court

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Keen v. Keen, 201 U.S. 319 (1906)

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Keen v. Keen

No. 188

Argued March 7, 8, 1906
Decided April 2, 1906
201 U.S. 319



Where the only assignment of error does not involve any federal question, the mere statement in the motion for new trial that the judgment deprives plaintiff in error of his property without due process of law, denies him equal protection of the laws, and is contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment, without any allegation as to why the judgment has this effect, no notice of which is taken by the state court in denying the motion, does not properly raise a federal question so as to give this Court jurisdiction to review under § 709, Rev.Stat., even though the writ be allowed by the presiding judge of the state court.

What facts constitute a common law marriage in a state is purely a local, and not a federal, question.

This was an action of ejectment begun by Sophronia K. Keen in the Circuit Court of St. Charles County against Ellis Keen, to recover a tract of land in that county to which plaintiff averred she was lawfully entitled. The petition was in the usual form of a declaration in ejectment, and the answer a general denial.

Eli Keen was the common source of title, plaintiff claiming one-half of the land, subject to the payment of debts, under § 2939 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, upon the ground that she was the widow of Eli Keen, who died in 1901, leaving, as plaintiff alleged, no children capable of inheriting.

Defendant claimed to be the legitimate child of an alleged common law marriage between Eli Keen, a white man, and Phoebe, a negro woman.

There was judgment below for the plaintiff, which was affirmed by the supreme court. 184 Mo. 358.


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Chicago: U.S. Supreme Court, "Syllabus," Keen v. Keen, 201 U.S. 319 (1906) in 201 U.S. 319 201 U.S. 320. Original Sources, accessed April 20, 2019,

MLA: U.S. Supreme Court. "Syllabus." Keen v. Keen, 201 U.S. 319 (1906), in 201 U.S. 319, page 201 U.S. 320. Original Sources. 20 Apr. 2019.

Harvard: U.S. Supreme Court, 'Syllabus' in Keen v. Keen, 201 U.S. 319 (1906). cited in 1906, 201 U.S. 319, pp.201 U.S. 320. Original Sources, retrieved 20 April 2019, from