Tag Archives: document

Graphology – Deciphering Old Timey Handwriting

The Marriage Certificate of Garner Mayes and Judith Morris in Amelia County, Virginia, 1789.

Translating Handwriting

There comes a time in every genealogy case in which a researcher will  need to translate, or decipher some unrecognizable handwriting on a document.  The first time is a shock – you go through all the trouble and the time it takes to track down that marriage certificate, or that death certificate that you desperately need.  When it shows up in the mail after a long wait, you open the envelope and when you finally lay eyes on the document, it appears to be written in hieroglyphics.

Closing in on 10,000 followers to our @BklynAncestry twitter account gives us a lot of help when we have a problem like this.  10,000 sets of eyes are better than 1.  This document needs some of those eyes to decipher it.  I am going to fill in the words I believe the document says.  Garner Mayes and Judith Morris are definitely the names of those involved. unfortunately the right side of the document is not part of the photo.


  1. Know all men by these presents that — Garner Mayes
  2. John Gill Craddock______– — ————
  3. —– —– Beverly ——- Governor of Virginia
  4. the sum of fifty pounds —– money of Virginia
  5. the which payment will and   —- to be ———
  6. our ————————————————–
  7. then ——— sealed with our seal and dated this 5 day
  8. July_____1789
  9. Whereas a marriage is shortly intended to be  ——–
  10. —– between Garner Mayes and Judith
  11. Morris
  12. The condition of the above obligation is such that if
  13. —- ——- —- to obstruct the —- Marriage then
  14. the above obligation to be void otherwise to remain in —
  15. — and —-
  16. Sealed and Delivered__________________Garner Mayes
  17. In Presence of _______________________ John Craddock

At this time the mystery has been solved in the comments.



1917 Marriage Certificate from NY

In the next document is an example of the exact opposite.  In this certificate I know everything except for the names or the grooms Parents.  I know the groom is a Toy Maker from Cadiz, Spain.  The name of his father and mother are not so clear cut.  What do you all think?


1917 New York Marriage Certificate
Graphology expert needed

New York Death Records

Death Record New York
John Murray's Death record from 1910. The document includes his location of death, in this case, the Webbs Academy for Ship Builders, and the names of both parents , which is information not to be found anywhere else as of yet.

New York Death Certificate

It is important for anybody building their family tree to understand the importance of the information contained on the typical New York Death Certificate, as pictured above. In so many cases it is necessary to order the Death certificate to take that generational leap back further into history. We have already talked about ordering Marriage Certificates, but in cases like the one above we have a man who died in 1910, and Married some 55 years earlier, making his marriage certificate inifately more difficult to locate. Not to mention that the older a document is, the more likely it is to be unreadable, and it is less likely to include specific details like a mothers maiden, or the city of birth in a foreign country. Not shown in the image above is the flip side of the document, which lists the Cemetery of burial, which can be the greatest source for a breakthrough of all.

Cemetery Records

Online searches can only get you so far in some cases. Once you have a grave site, you have the potential to solve a whole lot of family mysteries in a few minutes. Using our John Murray example above, if he had daughters that you could locate, there may well be someone with an unfamiliar last name in the grave, with a matching first name and the correct age of that daughter. When you find a lady about his age you may have found his wife, and maybe you will find his parents. It is not too uncommon to have up to 3 generations and 10 different people buried in a plot over the course of 100 years.

Ordering NY Vital Records

As I have mentioned in other blog posts, we at BrooklynAncestry.com can provide you with the death certificate number (located top right corner of document) and place the order for you, risk free. Provide us with the information you have, and we will ensure we can locate the record and place an order with the New York Department of Vital Records before asking you for payment.

We can order Marriage certificates up until the year 1929, Birth certificates prior to 1910, and Death certificates prior to 1949. Contact us now with your families details to get started.

Italian Surnames

If you decide to not hire an Italian Genealogist, you may find yourself trying to determine what an unfamiliar Italian Last Name is from an old document, such as a Death Certificate or a Marriage Record. This list will help identify some of those names.

Another list with the Etymology and Origins of Italian Surnames

List of Most Common Italian Last Names

2 Russo
3 Ferrari
4 Esposito
5 Bianchi
6 Romano
7 Colombo
8 Ricci
9 Marino
10 Greco
11 Bruno
12 Gallo
13 Conti
14 De Luca
15 Mancini
16 Costa
17 Giordano
18 Rizzo
19 Lombardi
20 Moretti
21 Barbieri
22 Fontana
23 Santoro
24 Mariani
25 Rinaldi
26 Caruso
27 Ferrara
28 Galli
29 Martini
30 Leone
31 Longo
32 Gentile
33 Martinelli
34 Vitale
35 Lombardo
36 Serra
37 Coppola
38 De Santis
39 D’Angelo
40 Marchetti
41 Parisi
42 Villa
43 Conte
44 Ferraro
45 Ferri
46 Fabri
47 Bianco
48 Marini
49 Grasso
50 Valentini
51 Messina
52 Sala
53 De Angelis
54 Gatti
55 Pellegrini
56 Palumbo
57 Sanna
58 Farina
59 Rizzi
60 Monti
61 Cattaneo
62 Morelli
63 Amato
64 Silvestri
65 Mazza
67 Testa
68 Grassi
69 Pellegrino
70 Carbone
71 Giuliani
72 Benedetti
73 Barone
74 Rossetti
76 Montanari
77 Guerra
78 Palmieri
79 Bernardi
80 Martino
81 Fiore
82 De Rosa
83 Ferretti
84 Bellini
85 Basile
86 Riva
87 Donati
88 Piras
89 Vitali
90 Battaglia
91 Sartori
92 Neri
93 Costantini
94 Milani
95 Pagano
96 Ruggiero
97 Sorrentino
98 D’Amico
99 Orlando
100 Negri
101 Mantovan

Last Name Meanings Pages

Last Name Meanings
French Last Names
Italian Last Names
Spanish Last Names
English Last Names
Irish Last Names
German Last Names