Monday, March 1, 2010

Madness Monday - Can anyone tell me about this paper?

I think the title Madness Monday really fits this piece of paper.

We found this piece of paper, which measures only about 3 7/16" wide by 3 3/16" high, in some of the other papers that my aunt had inherited.

It says "1st class This is to certify that Miss Sarah B Munday left off head on friday evening November 30th 1860 H G W Bradley"  

LEFT OFF HEAD....what the heck! I thought at first it might be a train ticket, but then the word head comes in to play. I looked in the 1860 Barren County, Kentucky census and find that H G W Bradley looks to be listed as a farm laborer. So what is he doing that he is writing a "ticket?"

link to the above census is found on ancestry at

Does anybody know what this is, or know what this wording means? It has caused me quite a bit of head scratching trying to figure out what this is for.

Any help is greatly appreciated and thanks for stopping by. ;)


  1. Do you think Sarah B. is the wife of George? He has a wife named Sarah. Maybe the Munday, is actually the day of the week. Perhaps they were just fooling around, playing as in a game.
    Is there a Sarah Munday in the census?

  2. Why are you focusing on Barren County? You don't say if you are familiar with either Sarah Munday or HGW Bradley. More info please.

  3. Have you noticed that the phrasing is slanted to the left and the names slanted to the right? Almost as if this were a pre-written receipt and the name and signature is added later. If Bradley is a farmer, is he also a butcher of some sort? Is it a hog's head that she left off (i.e. dropped off)? The date is used to time the curing process? Just a thought.

  4. Sorry guys I left out a couple of good points that you all asked about. This Sarah is the sister to my great-grandfather, James William Munday.

    Barbara, Sarah was 14 years old and in the household of her parents in 1860. Going from memory I believe she died young having never married.

    Sheri, Barren County, Kentucky because the Munday family was living there at the time.

    Martin, I had not noticed the slanting of the words. Good catch. The hog's head idea also makes sense.

    You guys are great, thanks so much for stopping by and helping me to look at this in a different light.

  5. I was going to say this was from a ship, and "head" is a piece of land sticking out into the ocean. My sister lives on an island in a place called "Gay Head" because the cliffs are colorful when viewed from the ocean. Did she ever travel outside of Kentucky?

  6. Cattle are referred to in the plural as "head." For example: "George owns about 20 head of cattle." (My dad raised cows as a sideline.) Perhaps it was a receipt for cattle received? Though usually it would include the number. Just my two cents. :)

  7. I think it means she was first or went first. I found a reference in Google Books that you can see here.

    There is another example here from a newspaper that is better: SCHOOL REPORT Lillie Martin "left off head" the most times in the B spelling class.

    1st Class could mean she did a 1st Class job or more likely she was in the 1st Class. How old was she in 1860? My thought is that he was a farm laborer in the summer and a teacher in the winter.

  8. Apple, I think you might have hit onto something. Sarah was only 14 years old in 1860. So it would make sense that she was still in school. Hmm, I'll have to ask my elderly aunt if she has ever heard of this terminology.

    Thanks everyone for giving me your ideas.



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