In July of 1867, Catherine Belless of Fulton County, Illinois, signing her mark and only referenced by her initials, acknowledged her receipt of property from the estate of her husband. It was her right to receive personal property from her husband’s estate.
Illinois State Statute allowed widows an allotment from their deceased husband’s estate to support themselves. That allotment could be in specific property (within certain limits) or in cash if those items were not a part of the deceased husband’s estate.
That “widow’s award” is what she is acknowledging the receipt of in this document.
Recd of Joseph Belless adm of the Estate of Peter Belless Decd Three Hundred & Eighty five Dollars + forty cents In Property at appraised value
July 26th 1867
C J [or L or I] Belless
[note–formatting issues forced me to put the signature on the left side–normally this would be placed approximately where it appeared in the original document]
While it may be frustrating that she is referred to by her initials, it is important to remember that everyone at the time knew who she was and what her name was. It might not have been deemed necessary to spell her full name out–although the middle initial could have been written a little more clearly.
Fortunately her name is spelled out in other documents involved in the settlement of Peter’s estate.
But it is always advised to try and understand the legal purpose of documents being utilized in genealogy research.