I started using the new website Footnote last week, and within about 15 minutes I found a record with my 3rd Great Grandfather’s signature on it. John Osgatharp was a Justice of the Peace in Jackson County, Tennessee when the document was signed on 20 Dec. 1843.
As a certified handwriting analyst, I was interested in my ancestor’s writing and what it could tell me about him. Taking into consideration that handwriting of the day was dictated by the social flamboyance of this Victorian era, John’s cursive form of writing was not surprising. Being able to read, write and spell tells me that he was an educated man. His position in the county as Justice of the Peace also speaks to his being respected by his peers. Some other things I have noticed is that he most generally crosses his T’s with the bar high on the stem, denoting high goals, but not unreachable. The hook at the end of some of his words says to me that he might have had something in his past that he always thought about, and most of his letters like O’s and small a’s are closed, showing that he was able to keep his mouth shut. Probably a good thing if he was a Justice of the Peace.
This record, as a genealogical source has everything going for it. Names (Miles, Osgatharp), the date (at least twice), location (Jackson County, Tennessee) and references the Revolutionary War. I should mention too, that John’s own father, Richard Osgatharp (official spelling believed to be Osgathorpe) was a Patriot in the RW, serving from Burke County, North Carolina. I have a copies of two of Richard’s pay vouchers issued in Morgan County, NC and plan to add him to my Patriot list for the Daughters of the American Revolution.
It has only been a few days since I began using Footnote, but if this is any indication of what kind of documentation I will be able to find on the site, it is well worth the price of subscribing. I suspect it will only get better as they add more and more documents over time.