20 June 2013

I Don't Think They Signed It

Signatures in record copies of wills and deeds made before photoreproduction was possible are not original signatures. They are handwritten copies. In original records, particularly materials contained in packets of court papers, one would expect that signatures are of the individual named in the signature.

Not always. 

This final page from a bill of complaint in a 1914 court case from Adams County, Illinois, makes the point. Or at least I think that it does. 

The first four names listed (Heipke Dirks, Lena Janssen, Anna Goldenstein, and Mary Heidbreder) are a mother and three of her daughters. The signatures look similar and the Goldenstein signature looks significantly different from a signature known to have been hers from a few years later. 
Final page of the bill of complaint in a case initially heard in the Adams County, Illinois, Circuit Court in June of 1914--Heipke Dirks, etal. versus Bernhard Dirks etal.

Anna Goldenstein's signature from the 1921 Adams County probate case for her son, Henry:

The initial "G" in "Goldenstein" is noticeably different in the 1921 signature.

The signatures from the 1914 document appear to have been made by the same person, probably the attorney.

Discerning readers will notice that the letter "e" is written differently in various places in the 1914 document. Stay tuned for a future post--we think we've got that figured out as well.