Did the Clerk Write Either of these Applications?

These two side-by-side marriage applications in Hancock County, Illinois, in 1881 were both supposedly written by John R. Newton, County Clerk. The handwriting appears to be different in these two entries. At least one of them was written by someone other than the clerk. Assistants frequently would use their initials in such entries, but that does not appear to have been the case here.

The applicant for the certificate has signed his name–the clerk forgot to write in that name in the entry on the left for John M. Habben.

The difference does not impact how I interpret or analyze this information–but it is a good reminder to not look at just one record. Adjacent records, even if they tell us nothing direct about our ancestor, may provide contextual clues about the record.

Clues that we don’t get if we don’t look.

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