This week’s prompt is: Another language
This was a challenge for me since both my mom and dad’s families have been in the United States for centuries so all the documents I’ve used are in English.
There is another language I have dealt with, though…legalese in old documents. Reading old legal documents can quickly make you blind, confused, or both.
First, there’s the legal wording. This is a single sentence from an 1867 deed book entry for one of my Davis ancestors:
To have and to hold the said promises unto the said John A Davis and his children, their heirs assigns forever, and I do hereby bind myself my heirs administrators to warrent and defend the said promises unto the said John Davis and his said children against myself my heirs and assigns and against all other persons whomsoever lawfully claiming or to claim the same of any part there of.
I was dizzy after reading that the first five or six times, but I finally figured it out with the help of my paralegal daughter.
Second is the tiny writing of some documents. The scan below from an 1862 Equity case is enlarged. The writing is actually quite small. I invested in a magnifying lamp just for reading documents like these.
Finally, some documents contain poor penmanship or writing squeezed in on margins. The scan below is from my 3rd great-grandfather’s 1893 probate records. It’s part of a 3-page document where siblings of my 2nd great-grandfather, D. B. Grant, tried to get him removed as the executor/administrator of the estate. One of their complaints was that D.B. was a poor businessman. This document needs more transcribing to discover their other reasons. By the way, the siblings were unsuccessful in their attempt to overthrow D.B.
Hooray for typewriters!
In 1917, the U. S. Government ‘bought’ the land for Fort Jackson from the many families that lived and farmed on the land. My great grandfather, A. B. Martin, was a landowner and he passed away in 1917. My grandfather, J. Daniel Martin, was the executor of the estate so he handled the transactions with the government. The paperwork passed down to me. I am so glad it was typed!
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