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April 7, 2009

Ancestor Handmarks Revisited

I talked about Handmarks - stylized marks which represented an individual's signature - in an earlier blog post Hand Marks - Elaborate Symbols that Replace an Ancestor's Signature

As promised, I've added the handmarks of 26 early Dutch settlers who used these handmarks in 1648 in New Netherland. The handmarks are on my New Netherland Genealogy section of Olive Tree Genealogy.

For a bit of fun, I've also created my own handmark! I find the handmarks quite fascinating and suspect the symbols some of our ancestors created had meaning beyond a simple line drawing. I'm sure some individuals just drew some lines, added a loop here and a swirl there and there was a handmark. But I'm equally sure that others created a symbol that had meaning. Perhaps it represented where they lived or their status in society or a physical characteristic.

In any case my handmark has an arch which represents the bridge in Katesbridge Northern Ireland where my McGinnis ancestors originated. The cross with ^ touching the top of the arch represents a female figure - me! Under the arch is a stylized "S" for my surname Schulze.

I'd love to see what handmarks readers of this blog can come up with! Why not take a few minutes and design your own handmark (have a look first at the variety of handmarks found in those 26 settlers in 1648). Pretend you are just arriving in the Dutch colony of New Netherland (now New York state) in the 1600s. How do you sign your name to legal documents when you can't read or write?

After you create your handmark, scan it and post about it on your blog if you have one. Send me the link to your post so I can link to from my blog.

If you don't have a blog, send your handmark to me and I'll post it here. Be sure to describe what it represents. It was fun to design my own handmark even though I can read and write.

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