Making A Mark Means Making A Mark

Be careful drawing conclusions from an ancestor “making their mark.” It means that they made their mark. Sometimes the person signing a document:

  • was told to make his mark even if he could write
  • chose to make his mark even though he could write
  • was physically unable to sign his name and making his mark was all he could do even though in years past he could write his name
  • made a mark because that was all he knew how to do even though he was in fine health

Be wary of drawing conclusions on your ancestor literacy based upon the presence or absence of one signature.