Adam T. Artis was illiterate. Though a smart and successful man, he executed contracts with a shaky X and probably conducted much of his business on the basis of verbal agreements. Here, his mark on a receipt for goods purchased from him by the Confederate government in 1863:
There’s little evidence to show whether Adam’s wives could read and write, but it seems doubtful that the first three or four could. His granddaughter Pauline Artis Harris told me that education was important to him, however, and he hired a teacher to live on his farm and school his children. His efforts bore fruit. Below, the signatures of eight of Adam’s 26 or so children.
The signature of the oldest son, Cain Artis (1853-1917):
The signature of Louvicey Artis Aldridge (1865-1927) on the final account of her husband’s estate:
It is, perhaps not surprisingly, the shakiest of the bunch. Vicey was among Adam’s earlier children and likely came along before her father’s resources allowed for tutors. She was also a girl.
From the World War I draft registration card of Walter Scott Artis (1874-1951):
From the World War I draft registration card of William Marshall Artis (1875-1945):
From the World War I draft registration care of Jesse Artis (1878-1922):
Jesse used the alternate spelling “Artice,” which was rarely adopted by members of this family. Notice that somewhere between William and Jesse’s early schooling, cursive capital A’s shifted in style from a form very similar to a printed “A” to one like an oversized small “a.”
From the World War I draft registration card of Robert Elder Artis (1883-1934):
From the World War I draft registration of Columbus Estell Artis (1886-1973):
C.E.’s signature is interesting. This round, upright script, from 1917, is a relatively early version. Later, over the course of the hundreds of death certificates he signed as an undertaker, he developed a bold, right-leaning, immediately identifiable signature characterized by a bold slash through the “r” in Artis:
From the World War I draft registration card of June Scott Artis (1889-1973):
Though his letters are well-formed and decisive, the missing “S” in Scott suggests a man who signed his name from memory and did not write much.
From World War I draft registration card of Henry J.B. Artis (1892-1973):
From the Social Security application of Alphonso Pinkney Artis (1903-1976):
[I’ve got this somewhere. I just need to find it.]