Lining out the Troutfedders


This image is from the top portion of an April 1876 deed between Christ[ian] Troutfetter, his wife Elizabeth, and their daughter Minnie A. Troutfetter. The “dd” in each reference to Troutfetter in this record copy of the deed is underlined.

It probably was not underlined on the original deed.


I have not seen the original deed, so I technically cannot say what it says.  However, having seen quite  few original deeds and vastly more record copies of deeds (which is what the image used in this blog post was made from), I have pretty good hunch that the original deed uses the spelling “Troutfedder.”

Without the underlining.

The underlining of the “dd” on this record copy of the deed is to indicate that the clerk thought the spelling was incorrect, but that his job, as the clerk, was to copy the deed exactly as it was written. He was not to correct, edit, modify, summarize, extract, guess, make conjecture, etc. about what the document said.

In the days before cameras, photocopiers, and digital reproductions, his job was to create a record copy of the deed–the legal equivalent of the original.

So when things looked “wrong,” a notation was made. Underlining was one notation that meant

this looks off to me, but my job is to copy not to correct

That’s why the double “d”s were underlined.

Christian Troutfetter and his family (including his descendants) used the Troutfetter spelling from beginning sometime in the 1860s. They continue to use that spelling today.  Why has been lost to history.


But the reason the wrong spelling is because the clerk didn’t want someone to think he had copied the name incorrectly.



4 thoughts on “Lining out the Troutfedders

  1. Mary Hammond says:

    So the underlining is similar to [sic.]? Except that perhaps the latter is more definite that there was an error in the original?

    • Yes. I’ve seen lengthy tildes used over letters to denote the same thing as well. And the clerk wouldn’t necessarily want to indicate whether something was an “error”–just that he copied it as written and it looked odd.

  2. Mary Hammond says:

    Is this blog on Greenwich time, Michael? It’s saying I posted the above at 11:35 pm, 6 hours later than here in the Pacific Northwest. 🙂

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