A 1905 Letter of Permission

It’s the only signature I have for John Michael Trautvetter: when he gave consent for his seventeen-year old daughter Ida to marry in 1905.

It was not the only document he ever signed in his life. By the time John Michael married in 1868 in Hancock County, Illinois, he had already purchased part of the real estate that would compromise his farm upon his death in the early twentieth century. That property would be mortgaged and paid off several times before his death. Each deed, mortgage, and release were recorded in the county recorder’s office. Of course John did not sign the deeds of acquisition, but the record copies of mortgages he did sign do not contain his actual signature–just the clerk’s copy of it.

John Michael also wrote no last will and testament. The case file of loose papers for the settlement of his estate contain no copies of any documents that were signed by him before his death. John Michael’s parents have no estate settlement records. His parents liquidated their Illinois real estate in the 1860s before John Michael’s father returned to Germany where he died. John Michael is not mentioned in the estate settlement of his mother-in-law, Barbara Haase, who died in Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois, in 1903. His wife was deceased by this time and John Michael had no interest in the estate.

It is possible that his signature appears in the probate file for one of his neighbors, but those records have not been searched. Had his daughter been of legal age when she married, there would be no extant copy of his signature.

Sometimes people do not leave all the records behind that we would like.


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