Category Archives: Ancestral Signatures

Literacy & Our Ancestors: How Many Ancestral Signatures in Your Family Tree?

Last year, I shared the beginning of my quest to determine the literacy level of my ancestors, at least insofar to whether or not they could sign their names.

Just because inquiring minds want to know, I’m documenting both actual signatures along with notations that a person signed with his/her (X) mark. That’s just as important to me as seeing their actual handwriting.

Since last year, I’ve documented more of my ancestors, but I have also eliminated whole branches of my family tree.

My paternal grandparents were of Rusyn heritage and came from small villages in today’s eastern Slovakia. It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that schooling became locally available, so I am certain that George (Kucharik) Sabo, who completed the 8th grade in Passaic, Passaic, New Jersey and Julia (Scerbak) Sabo learned to read and write in the Udol village school in the early 1900s.

On the maternal side of my family, my grandmother’s mother was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. She came to America as a young teen and while she may have been literate, there are no surviving cards or letters that contain her signature.

Likewise, her parents and grandparents in Denmark and Sweden might have been literate, but none of the government documents contain their handwriting. All vital record entries were made by church officials.

Given the above limitations,  my literacy ahnentafel looks like this:

1. Me – YES
2. George Michael Sabo – YES
3. Doris Priscilla Adams – YES


4. George (Kucharik) Sabo – – End of literacy line
5. Helena (Julia) Scerbak – – End of literacy line
6. Vernon Tarbox Adams –
7. Hazel Ethel Coleman –

Great Grandparents

12. Charles Edwin Adams
13. Annie Maude Stuart
14. Hartwell Thomas Coleman – 1900 census, Can R/W
15. Anna Elisabeth Jensen – 1900 census, Can R/W

2X Great Grandparents

24. Calvin Segee Adams – 1900 census, Can R/W
25. Nellie F. Tarbox
26. Charles Augustus Stewart – 1880 census, Can R/W
27. Elida Ann Hicks
28. William Coleman – 1900 census, Can R/W
29. Sarah Moriah Crouse – 1900 census, Can R/W

3X Great Grandparents

48. Daniel Adams
49. Sarah Ann Parker
50. George Rogers Tarbox – 1880 census, Can R/W
51. Mary Elizabeth Scripture ***
52. John Stewart 1820 deed
53. Catherine Carlisle 1820 deed
54. Israel Hicks
55. Abigail Carlisle – ????
56. Thomas Coleman – 1800 census, Can R/W
57. Mary Elizabeth Astle – ***
58. Peter Crouse – ????
59. Rebecca Jones – 1880 census, Can R/W

4X Great Grandparents

96. Thomas Adams ***
97. Sarah Brawn ***
98. Benjamin Parker ***
99. Maria Wilson – ????
100. William Tarbox ***
101. Judith Haskell – ????
102. Oliver Scripture ***
103. Mary Goddard Bucknam ***
104. Walter Stewart
105. Sarah (MNU)
106. Robert Carlisle
107. Catherine (MNU) –
108. Ira Hicks
109. Sarah Thornton – ????
112. Joseph Coleman ***
113. Ruth Spur ***
114. Daniel Astle – typed deed 1815***
115. Jane (MNU) ***
116. Philip Crouse
117. Sarah Burt – ????
118. Richard Jones
119. Mary Boone

5X Great Grandparents

192. John Adams – ????
193. Sarah Coley – ????
194. Benjamin Brawn –
195. Mary (MNU) – ????
196. Jonathan Parker
197. Unknown – ????
198. Robert Wilson
199. Dorothy Holmes – ????
200. Samuel Tarbox ***
201. Deborah Sayward ***
202. Nathan Haskell ***
203. Judith Witham – ????
204. James Scripture
205. Sibbel Shepley ***
206. Joses Bucknam
207. Abigail Hay
216. Samuel Hicks ????
217. Thankful Bowen ????
218. Israel Thornton ***
219. Joanna Wilkinson – ????
224. Joseph Coleman ***
225. Eunice Coffin ***
226. John Spur ***
227. Rebecca Blackman ***
228. James Astle
229. Elizabeth McLean
234. Benjamin Burt ????
235. Rebecca Follett ***
238. William Boone *** (will)
239. Ruth Hill ????

6X Great Grandparents

384. David Adams ????
385. Susannah Lockwood ????
386. Jonathan Coley ????
387. Lucy Sturges ????
388. Benjamin Brawn ***
389. Mary (MNU)
396. Robert Wilson ***
397. Mary Woodward ***
398. Joseph Holmes ????
399. Silence Brown ????
400. Joseph Tarbox ????
401. Susanna Stevens ????
402. Joseph Sayward
403. Sarah Giddings ????
404. Hubbard Haskell
405. Anna Millett
406. Daniel Witham
407. Lydia Sanders
408. Samuel Scripture
409. Mary Green ????
410. Oliver Shepley ????
411. Mary Lakin ????
412. James Bucknam ***
413. Mary Goddard ????
414. William Hay ***
415. Phebe Brown ????
432. Joseph Hicks ????
433. Patience Wheaton ????
434. Josiah Bowen ????
435. Margaret Child ????
436. Titus Thornton – YES, signed his will, 1757
437. Mercy (MNU) ????
438. John Wilkinson ????
439. Rebecca Scott ????
448. Joseph Coleman ????
449. Rachel Norton ????
450. Cromwell Coffin ????
451. Ruth Coffin (X)
452. Robert Spur
453. Jemima Foster ***
454. Benjamin Blackman ***
455. Abigail Spur ????
468. Seaborn Burt ????
469. Susannah Lobdell ????
470. Joseph Follett ????
471. Anna Tongue ????
476. Samuel Boone
477. Mary Wightman ????
478. Ebenezer Hill ????
479. Mary Fones ????

7X Great Grandparents

768. David Adams
769. Abigail Silliman
770. John Lockwood
771. Elizabeth (MNU)
772. Peter Coley
773. Hannah Couch
774. John Sturges
775. Sarah Fanton
794. John Woodward
795. Saphira Moore
800. Samuel Tarbox
801. Experience Look
802. William Stevens
803. Abigail Sargent
804. James Sayward
805. Deborah Stover
806. George Giddings
807. Elizabeth Eveleth
808. William Haskell
809. Jemima Hubbard
810. Nathan Millett
811. Sarah Babson
812. Thomas Witham
813. Abigail Babson
814. Thomas Sanders
815. Abigail Corney
816. Samuel Scripture
817. Elizabeth Lund
818. Jonathan Green
819. Sarah Lakin
820. Jonathan Shepley
821. Lydia Lakin
822. James Lakin ,***, land deed 1738
823. Elizabeth Williams
824. Joses Bucknam
825. Phebe Tuttle
826. Giles Goddard
827. Hannah Pratt
828. Peter Hay
829. Lydia Lynde
830. Abiel Brown
831. Sarah Green
864. Daniel Hicks
865. Sarah Edmunds
866. John Wheaton
867. Elizabeth Thurber
868. Thomas Bowen
869. Thankful Mason
870. John Child
871. Margery Hayward
872. Benjamin Thornton
874. Unknown
878. Sylvanus Scott
879. Joanna Jenckes
896. Thomas Coleman
897. Jane (MNU)
898. John Norton
899. Mary Torrey
900. Ebenezer Coffin
901. Eleanor Barnard
902. James Coffin
903. Ruth Gardner
904. Robert Spur
905. Elizabeth Tilestone
906. James Foster
907. Anna Lane
908. Benjamin Blackman ***
909. Jemima Breck
910. Thomas Spur
911. Elizabeth Kinsley/Kingsley
936. Benjamin Burt
937. Sarah Belden
938. Joshua Lobdell
939. Mary Burwell
940. John Follett
941. Martha Callam
942. John Tongue
943. Anna Wheeler
952. Samuel Boone
953. Mary Sweet
954. John Wightman
955. Jane Bentley
956. Jonathan Hill
957. Unknown
958. Jeremiah Fones
959. Martha West

Overall, not a bad tally and, of course, there is still more evidence to be uncovered!





Collecting Signatures of My Ancestors, Part 2

It took me a while to decide to get going, poking around through my digital files to see how many ancestral signatures I have in my collection. Once I began, though, I started to get into the hunt and kept going beyond those of my 3X great grandparents, which I shared last week. I found one more signature for that generation, which is in the list below.

These signatures come almost exclusively from two sources. The first are digital images of land deeds in which the county clerk recording the deed had the seller sign the book. It is evident that the seller signed because the writing is very different than the clerk’s cursive.

The second source of the autographs is from digitized wills. I was disappointed to find two or three wills in which the scribe signed for the testator and, by the 19th century, recorded wills were mostly county clerk’s copies with no original signatures.

I did find several instances where either the husband or wife was unable to write his/her name and instead signed with an X. I decided to save those examples, too, as it tells me who was illiterate.

My 3X Great Grandparents:

Daniel Adams (1810-1893)

Sarah Ann Parker (1817-1900)

Iseral (Israel) Hicks (1785-1835)

My 4X Great Grandparents:

Ira Hicks (1761-1830)

Loyalist Walter (X) Stewart (c1750-c1820)

My 5X Great Grandparents:

Robert Wilson (c1768-1846)

Rev. War Soldier Joses Bucknam (1761-1835)

Abigail (Hay) (X) Bucknam (1768-1854)

Rev. War Soldier James Scripture (1749-1810)

My 6X Great Grandparents:

Joseph Sayward (1708-1779)

Nathaniel Haskell (1718-1808)

Samuel (X) Scripture (1727-c1817)

Hannah (Burnham) Parsons, widow of Isaac (1721-after 1769)

My 7X Great Grandparents:

Ebenezer Parsons (1682-1763)

William Haskell (1690-1766)

Rev. John White (1677-1760)

Hannah (Pratt) (X) Goddard, wife of Giles (c1700- after 1751)

Samuel Tarbox (1647-1715)

My 8X Great Grandparents (note than only Daniel Green and Job Lane could sign their names. Others used marks):

Sylvester Stover (c1630-c1690)

Elizabeth (MNU) Stover, wife of Sylvester, (c1632-1722)

Thomas Burnham (c1619-1694)

Daniel Green (1681-1759)

Lydia (Green) Lynde, wife of Thomas (1685-1755)

Job Lane (1624-1697)

With the 8th generation, I am back to a few immigrant ancestors and those first born in the colonies and will end here. However, there are several of my ancestors documented back in old England for whom I have signatures.

If you haven’t ever done this type of search, I’d highly recommend it as it is interesting to learn who and how many ancestors, both male and female, were literate enough to sign their names to documents.

Collecting Signatures of My Ancestors – A Start

How many images of ancestral signatures have you come across in your research? I have a number of images, but they are a very mixed bag.

I have examples of my parents’ and all four grandparents’ signatures. However, after that, it gets quite spotty.

My father’s side of the family is Slovak, or Carpatho-Rusyn to be more exact. Nana finished fourth grade in the village, while my paternal grandfather finished the 8th grade in Passaic, New Jersey.

I sincerely doubt that any of their own parents, my great grandparents, and earlier generations ever even had the opportunity for any schooling at all and likely could not write their own names.

That immediately eliminates half of my family tree.

My mother’s side of the family is spotty for an entirely different reason. I believe that all of my ancestors back to my 2X great grandparents were literate and could write.

The issue here is that for many of them, I have no surviving letters, cards, original land deeds, etc. that would include their signatures.

Here are my ancestors’ signatures:

Paternal Family:

George Sabo (my father):

George Kucharik, aka Sabo (my grandfather)

Julia Scerbak Sabo (my grandmother):

Maternal Family:

Doris Adams Sabo (my mother):

Vernon T. Adams (my grandfather):

Hazel Coleman Adams (my grandmother):

I also have images for Vernon’s parents, Charles and Annie.

Charles Edwin Adams (my great grandfather):

Annie Stuart Adams (my great grandmother):

So far, I’ve found only two for 2X great grandparents, Charles Edwin Adams’ mother, Nellie, and Annie Stuart Adams’ mother, Elida.

Nellie Tarbox Adams (my 2X great grandmother):

Elida Hicks Stuart (my 2X great grandmother):

I am still trying to gather up signatures for earlier generations, but I did come across signatures for Daniel Adams and Sarah Ann Parker, my 3X great grandparents, as they signed their names on their 1836 marriage certificate.

Daniel Adams (my 3X great grandfather):

Sarah Ann Parker Adams (my 3X great grandmother):

If only tallying my signatures back to my 2X great grandparents, I have the sad total of only TEN! 3x great grandparents Daniel and Sarah bring my total to 12, for the five generations preceding me.

I am positive that a number of my colonial American ancestors were able to read and write and I have saved several of their signatures found in original documents.

I’m going to make an effort to crop and save those signatures and keep those images in a separate “autograph” file.

How many ancestral signatures have you been able to find?