I Ain’t Going to Carthage to Sign That Mortgage

It always pays to read the entire document and think about the entire document, not just select portions of it. Sound research methods require it, like those discussed in Evidence Explained  and the BCG Genealogy Standards Manual. 

The image shown in this post is a larger portion of the 1905 mortgage mentioned in a blog post recently.

I had wondered if the Neills had actually signed “ONeil” on the mortgage or if the clerk in the county recorder’s office had simply miscopied their signature using what was written on the top of the mortgage document.

Then I offhandedly commented that maybe they signed it that way because that’s the way it was written on the top part of the mortgage by someone at the bank holding the note. It was meant to be sarcasm.

And like many comments made in jest, it may be closer to the truth than I originally thought. It’s the locations that matter–genealogy without geography is simply misplaced research.

The bank was located in Carthage, Illinois, the county seat.

The Neills and Rampley lived in the southern portion of Hancock County, in St. Albans and Walker Township. The property being mortgaged was located in Walker Township.

The Neills and Rampley signed the deed before a Justice of the Peace in West Point, Illinois. West Point was closer for the Neills and Rampley than going all the way into Carthage in the days of horses and buggies. There’s no scale on the map, but each of the square townships shown is six miles on a side, providing a perspective.

It would have been a 4-5 mile buggy ride to go to West Point. It would have been a longer ride to get to Carthage. They could have taken the train to Carthage, but it’s clear they didn’t. After, the Justice of the Peace states that he was in West Point.

It seems possible that the bank wrote out the top portion of the mortgage and had the Neills sign it in front of a Justice of the Peace. There’s some details about which I’ll never be certain.

After all, we only have the document upon which to base our conclusions.

And you thought mortgages were boring.


2 thoughts on “I Ain’t Going to Carthage to Sign That Mortgage

  1. Carol Weldon says:

    I don’t understand, how can where the justice of the peace resides / lives tell you where it was signed? Where he resides is revolent to claiming to personally know them and verifying that they are the ones that signed the document.

    • It will give you an approximate idea. In some locations Justices of the Peace were allowed to function in a certain town/village or township.

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