a.l.s. - a letter entirely in the writing of the person signing it; "autographed letter signed".
alt - (German) old
A.M. - when relating to time, meaning before noon, or "Ante Meridian".
A.M.E. - abbreviation for African Methodist Episcopal Church.
amen corner - in some Protestant churches a corner to the right of the pulpit occupied by persons who would emphasize the sermon by frequently responding "Amen".
amendment - the action or result of correcting or altering a document, in written and signed form.
ancestor - one from whom a person is descended, either through the father or the mother.
ancillary administration - administration of an estate held in a state other than where the deceased person resided. This is a subordinate administration and an indication that the principal administration has been held in another state, usually named.
andy-over - a childhood game primarily pre-1900 in which a ball would be thrown over a small building, the object being to catch it by the person on the other side. Frequently played during play periods at one-room schoolhouses. When the ball was thrown, the person cried out "andy-over".
Anglican - a member of the reformed Church of England.
animal economy - in the 1700's, a term for bowel movements.
an - (French) year.
annals - chronological record of events.
annee - (French) year
Anno Domini - or A.D., time dating from the year of our Lord, usually in conjunction with a year date.
annual return - a report made by administrator or executor of an estate, to the court on an annual basis, of the assets debts and distribution of an estate, prior to the final settlement.
ano - (Spanish) Year
anon. - anonymous.
anonymous - of unknown or unavowed authorship; one wishing to remain unknown by name.
ante - before, as to time or place.
ante diem - (Latin) before the date or day.
ante nuptial contract - a contract or agreement made before marriage, in writing, in which the property rights of one or both are set forth and delineated. These are usually made between parties who have had a previous marriage, and are for the purpose of protecting the property rights of any children by a former marriage, or for the purpose of one person wishing to leave one's property to others without regard to the spouse.
anthrax - a carbuncle or malignant boil.
antiquarian - one who is concerned with the study of antiquities; an antiquarian bookman is one who deals in rare books.
aout - (French) August
ap - (Welsh) son of; John ap Howell, thus, meaning John , son of Howell.
Apache Indians - fierce Indian tribe of the southwest U.S. who opposed white settlers in New Mexico and Arizona particularly; among their leaders were Geronimo and Conchise.
apocryphal - spurious, false, mythical, of doubtful authenticity.
apoplexy - hemorrhage of a blood vessel in the brain; a stroke.
apothecary - the early name for one who prepared and sold drugs for medicinal purposes, now a drugstore.
appeal - a filed request with a court to change the decision rendered by a lower court.
appearance docket - the index to cases heard before a court. Each court would have its own appearance docket book.
appellant - a person of firm who appeals a court decision to a high court.
appellate court - a court that will hear and review cases appealed from a lower court, and can either correct errors or send the matter back for further hearings.
appellate jurisdiction - the authority to review a case which has been heard in a lower court, and to make changes.appraisal - the act of setting a price or value on property by one of two people, or more, who are qualified to recognize and set a fair value. Property evaluation.
appraisement - the action of estimating and setting a fair value.
appraiser - a qualified person hired, named or appointed to make a fair estimation of value of property
apprentice - usually a minor, one who is bound by legal agreement to serve an employer for a stated number of years, to learn the trade of his employer, as a privilege. Usually the master provided clothing, food, and lodging in addition to the instruction, and sometimes a small sum of money, in return for his labors.
appurtenance - literally, something which belongs to something else. In a land deed this could refer to houses, barns, rights-of-way, fences, orchards, or anything else which belongs to the property. In more common usage in insurance terms, an appurtenance refers to the garage or similar structures.
Arapaho Indians - North American Indian peoples, allied with the Blackfoot, and Cheyenne tribes. Found particularly near the Platt River and the Arkansas River.
archaic - of an earlier time or period.
archives - a depository or place of safe-keeping for records of government, church or business. Many libraries have archive departments.
archivist - the head librarian of an archives, trained, in addition to the usual library sciences, in preservation, restoration and retrieval.
ark - a large flat-bottomed river boat used to transport produce.
armory - heraldry.
arpent - a measure of land, of French origin, equaling one hundred square perches or rods (18' long). Approximately .85 acres.
arraign - to indict or call a person to court to answer a criminal charge brought against him.
arsenal - a public establishment for the storage, or for the manufacture and storage of arms and ammunition.
Articles of Confederation - delegates of the thirteen original colonies drew up a set of agreements which were adopted in 1777 by the Continental Congress and were in use until 1789 when they were replaced by the Constitution.
artisan - one who practices and is trained in a trade, particularly a handicraft or a mechanic.
asfetidia - (asafetida) a short perennial herb, used by some for various medical effects; worn around the neck in a small cloth bag supposedly to ward of colds.
assault - as in "assault and battery"; the actual striking is battery, to assault is to threaten the bodily blow.
assignee - one who is appointed to act for another, a person to whom an assignment is made, or one to whom a right of property is legally transferred, as a person possessing a bounty land warrant by purchase or gift, but was not the person to whom it had been issued originally.
assignment - the legal transfer in writing of the right, title or interest of any kind of property, from one to another.
assignment of dower - the document by which the widow's dower is transferred to her as part of the administration of her husband's estate. Also known as a dower division, setting off of the dower, and the widow's dower. Usually pertained to land.
assessment - the evaluation of property for the purpose of determining the amount of tax to be paid.
assn. - abbreviation for association.
assumpit - a law suit filed charging breach of a contract
asylum - although in modern usage principally a place of refuge and confinement of the insane, at one time used also for the care of orphans.
atlas - a collection of maps and charts in a volume.
attach - to seize or take under control by order of a court, as to attach property by means of a court order for the purpose of selling such property to satisfy a proven debt; to assign a person to a specific unit or duty on a temporary basis.
attachment - the act of taking into custody property of another, usually for the purpose of selling such property to satisfy a legal proven debt.
attest - to bear witness, to affirm the truth of genuineness of a statement or fact.
attested copy - a copy of a document signed by an authorized official verifying that such is a correct and true copy. An attested copy differs from a certified copy in that no seal is attached.
attorney - an agent, representative, or anyone authorized to act for another.
attorney-at-law - a lawyer, hired or appointed to act for another in legal matters.
attorney-in-fact - a person appointed to act for another in a particular manner in a situation or transaction not of a legal nature, and who can sign for him. The giving of such authority is by a legal document known as a power-of-attorney.
auction - a public sale in which property is sold to the highest bidder. Used often to dispose of property of a person deceased.
auctioneer - one who conducts sale of property by public auction.
aunt - the sister of one's father or mother.
authenticated copy - a copy or a reproduction of a document made and signed by an official authorized to do so; such a copy is admissible in court actions.
autobiography - the story of one's life written by himself
avril - (French) April
azure - a bright blue color, the description of which is often found in heraldric matters.
b. - abbreviation used to designate birth.
backlog - a log placed in the back of the fireplace, lasting for days, to reflect the heat.
badlands - usually refers to an area of deep erosion in Nebraska and South Dakota
B. A. E. - abbreviation for the Bureau of American Ethnology, a government bureau which published a long series of volumes dealing with the culture and characteristics of the American Indians.
bail - temporary release from prison on finding sureties or security to guarantee appearance for trial
bail-bond - the money of security posted by someone to temporarily free someone imprisoned, with such obligation satisfied when the accused person appears for trial
bailiff - a court officer who keeps order in the court
bailiwick - an area under control of a bailiff, or, colloquially, one's own neighborhood or area with which he is familiar
bale - goods bound into a shape for storage or shipping. A bale of hay would weigh approximately 100 pounds, a bale of cotton, about 500 pounds
baling wire - the wire (or rope) used to fasten a bale, often used for various other purposes by farmers. It was said that almost anything could be repaired with the use of baling wire
ballast - the gravel, stone or other material used in the bottom of a ship to make it ride at an even keel when there is little of no cargo, to prevent the ship from rolling over
ballot - a method of secret voting, using written or printed slips of paper or small balls of different colors. That on which one's choice is written in an election
ballot-box - the container in which a ballot is deposited prior to tally
balsam - an aromatic oily or resinous substance used for healing wounds or soothing pain
ban - a summons by public proclamation, usually to arm; a formal ecclesiastical denunciation or edict, such as used by the Church of England and other strict churches of those guilty of acts which were prohibited by the church, thus a person was banned or excommunicated
bandoliers - a broad belt worn over the shoulder and across the chest to support the musket and to carry additional ammunition
bangboard - a board placed on a wagon, against which ears of corn, when thrown into the wagon, would bounce and drop into the wagon bed