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Signature "X" Marks

        Did you know that signing with a "mark" didn't mean the person couldn't read or write?  Sometimes that was true, but not always.  And did you know that some women had their own marks too?  Scout's honor -- it's true.
        Like a Mason's mark put in stone to show who did the work, there are "signature marks".  Each person has their own, supposedly unique, mark.  When your research gets you back into the times before the census, you may have to rely on wills, deeds, or other papers to find people.
        Here's a scenario to ponder.  What if there are several deeds in the same area to a  John LEE.  Does a single John LEE own all the property, or is there more than one John LEE?  If there's more than one, how would you tell them apart?

                                                   His                                       His
                                       John   "X"  Lee                   John   "I"  Lee
                                                Mark                                    Mark

        Using an actual example from my search for John LEE, Esq. (aka jlx), I was given several deeds in the northern part of NC (the Roanoke River area).  From the excerpts, it appeared that jlx had several pieces of property in the area, and thru the transfer of deeds "to Godfrey", etc., I was falsely led to believe that there was a relation of jlx's named Godfrey.  However, when I got to see the 2 marks shown above, it was clear (from jlx's will) that the mark on the right was that of jlx, while that on the left was from the LEEs that included Godfrey.
       As you can see, understanding marks, and being able to see them, is very important when you're trying to track people and their movements.  Like a treasure map, "X" marks the spot to search.
        Perhaps this info will help you in your research -- I hope so.

Jim Williams. Sr.

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