[Editor’s note: Two of the subjects of this serial whose names are deleted are Jonestown survivors Michael Carter and Tim Carter. The deleted information from the memorandum – designated by brackets – which is known to the editor has been indicated by red type.
[The statements below have been lightly edited for spelling, punctuation, and grammar.]
To: SAC, San Francisco
From: Director, FBI
Enclosed for San Francisco are two copies of statements of Michael Prokes, [names deleted] [Michael Carter and Tim Carter]. These statements were given to the Police of Guyana, furnished to FBIHQ through Legat, Caracas.
[Page 2 consists of photocopy of manila envelope]
Attached herewith are typewritten copies made from the handwritten statements of Michael Prokes, [Michael Carter and Tim Carter]. These were received from the American Embassy at Georgetown on 4/9/79.
Criminal Investigation Department,
21st November, 1978.
Michael Prokes states:
I am an American citizen formerly of 1859 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, California. I am a member of the People’s Temple at Port Kaituma, North West District Guyana. I joined the People’s Temple in November, 1972 whilst living in the United States. I joined the People’s Temple at Port Kaituma during the month of August, 1977. The People’s Temple at Port Kaituma was being carried on at an area known as Jonestown. There were about 800 persons, out of which there were about four Guyanese. When I arrived at Jonestown I met Pastor Jim Jones, and the first type of job I did was working in the cassava gang (generally). Secondly, I did the work of a schoolteacher and thirdly, I worked in the machinery shop ordering and delivering spare parts for agricultural machineries. There are about four or five times when I came to Georgetown and during such times I did community work on behalf of the People’s Temple. During my entire stay at Jonestown I was never restricted in any way by Jim Jones or any of his security members who he had picked to guard him and the farm.
Some time about 12 M.D. [Midday] on Friday the 17th of November, 1978 I heard over the public address system at Jonestown that on that very day, Congressman Leo Ryan of the United States will be visiting Jonestown; Leo Ryan arrived at Jonestown about 5:00 PM and that very afternoon he was shown around a few buildings by Mrs. Jim Jones. Jim Jones was in the farm at the time when Leo Ryan arrived there. There were about five persons including myself who went to the airport to meet Congressman Leo Ryan and took him to Jonestown.
After Leo Ryan was finished shown around, he met a few persons through the farm’s secretary Harriet Tropp (deceased) in the pavilion; the discussion there was private, during which time Jim Jones was speaking to reporters representing the Washington Post [Charles Krause], San Francisco Chronicle (Ron Jarvis [Javers]), San Francisco Examiner (Tim Reiterman), and National Broadcasting Company News (Don Harris (deceased) and Bob Flick). These were all persons who came with Leo Ryan. There are also four American relatives who came with the reporters, and they were Jim Cobb, Tim Katsairs [Anthony Katsaris], one by the title of Oliver [Beverly] and the fourth person I cannot recall [Carol Boyd].
After the discussion at the pavilion, dinner was served, after which there was entertainment by the band of the Jonestown farm and this lasted for about two hours. I should mention that Jim Jones came from the back dam about half an hour after the Congressman and party had arrived, and he was mostly engaged in speaking to reporters. The entire community went to bed about 12:00 M.M. [Midnight]. The Congressmen and a few who came with him slept at Jonestown whilst the reporters slept at Port Kaituma and they did not return to Jonestown until about 10:30 AM to 11:00 AM.
The following day the Congressman continued his interviewing and the newsmen were taken on a tour. When it was about 12:00 M.D. Richard Dwyer who was a member of the Congressman’s party expressed to Jim Jones that 46 persons on the farm were desirous
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of leaving that very day for the United States. Jim Jones spoke to these persons inquiring from them why they wanted to leave. During such time about 15 more persons on the farm came up saying that they also wanted to leave. At that moment Jim Jones sent someone for several thousands of dollars to send away those desirous of leaving. This was about 3:30 PM and several persons boarded the truck to leave the farm. The Congressman was yet speaking to Jim Jones in the pavilion and attorney when suddenly a member of the People’s Temple came out and probably attempted to stab the Congressman as both were lying on the ground jostling as they were being separated at the same time. The attacker was pulled away and led off.
Shortly after, the entire party that came with the Congressman left, and a few of the farm remained at the pavilion with the attorneys whilst the majority went to their homes. At that moment Maria Katsairs [Katsaris] came to me whilst I was near the pavilion and told me that there would be trouble as some of the People’s Temple members have gone after the Congressman and party. Katsairs was one of the secretaries to Jim Jones and she told me to go to her house and wait for her. I did so and whilst there, Tim Carter, a member of the People’s Temple, came with an empty suitcase and handed it to someone who was also in the house. Someone asked him to give a message to someone, and after he left Maria Katsairs came and filled the bag with money and told me that there were letters also inside. She said to take the letters and mail them and the money to the Embassy. She did not mention which Embassy. I presumed it was the Soviet Union Embassy because there was talking at Jonestown about moving to the Soviet Union. At that moment she told me to wait for Mike and Tim Carter who will be accompanying me with the money. She then gave a .38 revolver and five rounds of ammunition and another to Mike Carter with five rounds also.
Mike, Tim and I then left. This was about 4:30 PM – 5:00 PM, and we intended to head for Port Kaituma but found the money bag too congested for us to fetch and move quickly, so we hid some of the money by the chicken pen and in the plantain fields. We took small amounts which we could have walked with, and these consisted of Guyana and American dollars.
As it was nightfall we were passing the vicinity of Kaituma Police Station when the Police stopped us, and we told them what had happened. They took the money, arms and ammunition from us. We stayed at a cassava mill, which was near the Police Station. The Crime Chief Mr. [Cecil “Skip”] Roberts came Sunday night to Kaituma and I told him of all the incidents in general. I subsequently returned to Jonestown in company with the Police where I identified dead bodies at the farm and took the Police where the money was buried. I do not know how much money was buried but it was made up of American and Guyanese currencies.
Before Tim and Mike Carter and I left with the money there was no killing of human beings taken place. The only thing I heard whilst we were leaving was the sound of a round being fired off.
Sgd. Mike Prokes
This statement was taken by me on 21.11.78 at 8:00 PM at the Eve Leary. It was read over to Michael Prokes who said it is true and correct and signed his name to it in my presence.
Criminal Investigation Department,
21st November, 1978.]
[Timothy James Carter, 30] years states:
[Half line deleted] I am a member of the People’s Temple since January, 1973. I was a very active member of this Organization in California where I used to live also. I came to Guyana on [line deleted] then I went to Jonestown.
I know [line deleted] and once in 1972, I visited her and in the course of our conversation she told me about Jim Jones and that he was one of the most loving persons she ever met in her life. She advised me to see him. When she told me about Jim Jones it was the first time I was hearing about him. I never heard about the Peoples Temple before too. Sometime later I saw an article in the Newspaper about the Peoples Temple and what I read in the article told me that the Headquarters of this organization was at Redwood Valley, California.
In the same year I went to the Temple’s Headquarters and made contact, and later about one month I became a member. On the first meeting I spoke to Jim Jones briefly after he introduced himself to me. I attended meetings regularly and I became more acquainted with Jim Jones and the Organization. As a matter of fact I was working full time with the Organization since I joined. I learned that the policy of the Organization was to help poor people in clothing, food, finance and Medical Treatment. The membership of the Organization was very wide and included quite a few prominent people in the Community.
From time to time being in the Organization the things I saw and the way I saw Jim Jones conducted himself interested me. About one year and a half after I joined the Organization Jim Jones told me that he had sex with both male and female. I know for a fact that he was involved sexually with a lot of women within the Organization, in some cases other people’s wives.
I learned from Jim Jones also that about 17 years ago he was in Guyana and he liked the place a lot. Late 1973 or early 1974 for the first time I heard Jim Jones saying at a meeting at California that the group had decided to settle in Guyana to start an agricultural project, and later in the year 1974, Jim Jones came over to Guyana to seek permission from the Government. He went back to California and informed the group that permission was granted by the Guyana Government to start an experimental Agricultural project. After that whenever Jim Jones talked about Guyana, he referred to her as the Promised Land.
The first group came to Guyana sometime in 1974. Jim Jones did not come with them to my knowledge. Jim Jones came to Guyana finally to live sometime in June 1977. About one month after he came over the head office was transferred to Guyana also. Jim Jones had informed the members of the Organization that the Government of Guyana had named the place Jonestown and that was the first time I heard the name Jonestown.
There were radio sets both at Jonestown and California, and although Jim Jones was at Jonestown, he and members used to make contact by the sets. He used to make contact with other members of
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the Organization who were still in California also by set and would pass on whatever instructions he would have to.
[Several words deleted] I came over to Guyana with some other members and by this time there were about 600 persons already at Jonestown including Jim Jones. When I arrived in Guyana I stopped for about two weeks at [several words deleted] then I went to Jonestown. I saw the people had started to plant plantains, and cassava, eddoes and other vegetable crops, also fruits. I saw that the people appeared to be happy. I spent an average of about three weeks at Jonestown and during that time everything seemed to be all right. I [illegible word] primarily rice in gravy, also greens. I observed that everybody was actually eating the same food.
In all to me, the people at Jonestown seem to have been on good terms with Jim Jones. [2 lines deleted] From time to time I heard Jim Jones talking about committing suicide by himself and all the members of the Organization. I heard him say many times that dying was easy and was freedom from the pain of the world. I heard him saying many times that to die by revolutionary suicide is dignified.
I do not know anything about the plans Jim Jones had to poison the people. I do know that in the States on one occasion Jim Jones carried out a suicide drill but it was not poison in fact but cool-aid. Later I heard this happened at Jonestown too but I have no personal knowledge about it. I did not sign any suicide letter at Jonestown or in Guyana but I signed the letter in California sometime after I joined the Organization saying that I do not wish to live anymore. I gave this letter up at a meeting to either the Secretary or someone who was collecting it for Jim Jones. I signed several Blank sheets of paper at California but I never signed any blank sheets of paper at Jonestown.
I was not the owner of any property in the States.
[Reference to Carter’s wife, Gloria Rodriguez] came over before me while she was pregnant and that was in early July 1977. [Reference to Carter’s son, Malcolm Carter] was born in Guyana on [August 10, 1977].
I know for a fact that the persons who were brought across from California to live at Jonestown were told to sell all their property and gave the money to the Church. I do not know who was controlling the finances of the Peoples Temple at Jonestown. When I left Jonestown to come to Georgetown to do Customs work for the Temple, I went back to Jonestown on two occasions and spent about two weeks. I did not observe any dissatisfaction in the people. To my mind living conditions had improved.
I was present at Jonestown when [Richard Dwyer and Richard McCoy] of the American Embassy and a few other guests on about three occasions and these guests were all well received by the people at Jonestown. I know for a fact that the people were allowed to talk to the guests during these visits. I know for a fact Jim Jones would intimidate the people not to tell any lies to any of the guests.
When I was at Jonestown for the three months if anyone should violate any of the rules, they were punished in accordance with the punishment recommended by the committee. I know that they had something called the Learning Crew whereby the people were given hard Labor. I cannot say if after I had left Jonestown the situation had changed. I know that there were Security Guards at Jonestown. I have never seen the Security Guards beating anyone at Jonestown. I know that they had shotguns and rifles at Jonestown. I was told by Jim Jones that the weapons were all licensed.
During the last month I went for a period of three weeks in the States on Temple business and read in the newspapers over there that Congressman Leo Ryan this going to visit Jonestown. I returned to Guyana on [line deleted]. I went to Jonestown and I spoke to
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Jim Jones. I told him about the visit I had in the States in discussions I had with Concerned Relatives groups that were acting very actively against our Organization. He told me that he was very worried about the visit of the Congressman Leo Ryan to Jonestown. Jim and I with some of the other top people both men and women had a discussion on the subject and it was decided to allow him to enter Jonestown after much discussion. Before the visit of Congressman Leo Ryan, Jim Jones asked the people at Jonestown not to make any complaints to him because the Concerned Relatives group in California were actively working against our Organization.
On Friday 17th November, 1978, about 5:30 PM, I was at Jonestown when Congressman Leo Ryan, two attorneys [Mark Lane and Charles Garry], one Secretary [Jackie Speier] came into Jonestown by means of a truck sent for them by Jim Jones. When the Congressman and party came in, they were greeted by several persons, not Jim Jones because I understood he was in bed sick. [Sentence deleted] Later Jim Jones came up and joined us and he spoke to the Congressman who asked him if he would allow some relatives of the people in the newsman to come into Jonestown. Jones, I understood, finally agreed to allow everybody to come into Jonestown.
There was nothing unusual on that Friday night. The Congressman slept at the guest cottage with his aides and the attorneys. The relatives and the newsmen slept at Port Kaituma. About 10:30 or 11:00 AM [on November 18], I saw the Congressman talking to different people one after the other in the pavilion. At the time Jim Jones was at his house and he did not come over until about 12 m.d. I did not hear what the people were telling the Congressman. About 1:00 PM, the [name deleted] family decided to leave Jonestown for America. A little later the [name deleted] family decided to leave Jonestown. [Two names deleted] also decided to leave [references to Parks family, Bogue family, and Vernon Gosney and Monica Bagby]. I saw Jim Jones talking to them, but did not hear what he was telling them.
Suddenly the rain started to fall so they could not leave the same time. It was during this period that Larry Layton also came up and said that he wanted to go. About 3:30 PM, whilst the Congressman was still in the pavilion in conversation with [name deleted], Charles Gary and [name deleted], I saw Don Sly coming up and he asked who was this man I was talking to. I told him Congressman Ryan. I saw Sly hold onto Ryan suddenly in a hugging manner and attempted to pull him down. [name deleted] on to Sly, Charles Gary and [name deleted] also held onto him and after a while separated them. A crowd suddenly gathered and everybody was helping to get off Sly from the Congressman. Sly got his hand out but I could say and said then it was a terrible incident and I heard him telling the Congressman, the newsman, the person who said that they were going back to the States, and the Secretary of the Congressman. [One of people whose name was deleted in the previous paragraph is that of Mark Lane.]
All boarded a truck and they left for the airstrip. I did not go to the airstrip with them. Someone then got on the loudspeaker. I think it was Marceline Jones, wife of Jim Jones, as she told the people to go back to the cottages and rest as everything will be all right. Jim Jones, [Mark Lane], Charles Gary and about 15 others just sat around in the pavilion talking about the attack on the Congressman’s life. I did not hear Jim Jones give an instruction to anyone to go to the airstrip and kill the Congressman. I heard Jim Jones saying that he knows something is going to happen and kept repeating that a few times. At that point in time I left and went to my cottage to see my wife and child. I did not see [name deleted] at that time anywhere. I spoke to my wife and played with my boy.
I suddenly heard someone saying over the loudspeaker that everybody must report to the pavilion. I did not recognize the voice. My wife and I went to the pavilion and I saw a black American woman named Shirley Smith on the stage. She was dancing and singing, I am going to be a freedom [line cut off]
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School tent next to the pavilion and started talking. I was not involved in this conversation. Marceline Jones was also in the conversation. At this point someone asked me to get Marceline Jones some water and [line deleted] and went back to the stage which is about 20 yards away. Maria Katsaris said that she wants to talk to [seven lines heavily redacted]. Carolyn Layton’s sister Annie Moore asked me to ask Maria whether or not to go to the meeting. I went back towards the pavilion and I met Maria in the vicinity of chimpanzee’s cage.
Whilst I was speaking to Maria I heard over the loudspeaker set “suicide.” I became afraid immediately. I went to the kitchen and I heard people crying. I went over to the pavilion to see what was going on and I saw my wife dying as she was holding my baby who was already dead. I saw several on the ground [illegible word] and persons were crying. I went down and told my wife on the ground I love her but she did not answer me.
The place was now in the state of confusion. I did not see Jim Jones because I also was in a similar state. I did not see how the poison was administered but I saw the people lining up behind the pavilion. I did not look for any guards. At that point I made up my mind to escape. I went back to West House and there I [half line deleted, related to Mike Carter and Mike Prokes]. The three ran out of the settlement into the fields.
[numerous lines deleted] money and they found it. On Monday 20.11.78 I went back to Jonestown with the police to identify the bodies. I identified several bodies. I saw about 400 dead bodies. I did not go to where my wife was.
On today’s date I was brought to Georgetown and I made the statement. I was later told that Leo Ryan, the reporters, and a few other persons were killed.
I hereby certify that this statement was taken by me the undersigned from [Tim Carter] CID Headquarters. It was read over to him who said it is true and correct and signed his name to it in my presence.
Sgd., [Name deleted]
21st November, 1978.]
[Michael Julien Carter, 20] years states:
I am a citizen of the United States of America. I used to live at [address deleted] California, USA. [half line related to address of Michael Carter’s father deleted] USA. His name is [Francis Carter]. He resides alone. My mother is dead. I am a member of the People’s Temple for the past five years. I came to Guyana on the 23rd September, 1977 and was stopping at the People’s Temple at [half line deleted]. I spent about nine months in Jonestown and about [information about work in Georgetown deleted]. It was done at intervals. I am a [several words deleted] and that is the work I was doing at the People’s Temple in Guyana or working in the fields at Jonestown, North West District.
James Warren Jones was the Bishop or Pastor as he had wanted us to call him. He tried to imply to the citizens of Jonestown that he was Jesus even though I did not hear him say that he was Jesus Christ. The things he said want me to believe that is what he was saying. At Jonestown he wanted you to admit that persons of one sex are attracted to his own sex, a sort of homosexual affair. This had to be done in public before the entire settlement. He even gave lectures to the settlers about how men would prefer to be with men and women prefer to be with women.
I had cause to sign a form rejecting the visit of Congressman Ryan but I did not read the words that were typed at the top of the form. I signed the form because I know that if I did not sign same they would have called out my name in public and asked to sign and if I refused I would be punished by putting to work harder. I never received order before (Public).
There were threats of Jonestown before when people claimed that they were going to commit suicide. That was when Debbie Blake [Blakey] nee Laton [Layton], sister of Larry Layton went away to the United States with some of the Temple money. It was being said that when she arrived at the States she would tell a lot of lies about the place and that would tear up the entire organization. After a long time Jim Jones said that he didn’t think they would have to do it anymore. However I heard Jim say that Debbie went over to the States and told a lot of lies.
[Paragraph related to radio communications] The People’s Temple at Jonestown. These three were capable to make contact with the United States and Georgetown. They were also another set that could have caught Georgetown and several others that were out of order and others that were not working. They also have three sets that could have contacted the States and Jonestown at the People’s Temple at Dennis Street, Campbellville. Only one they were using at the time. The sets were used to relay information at different locations, speaking to relatives, etc. They also have radio on ‘Cudjoe’ and ‘Albatross’ a trawler and a boat that the Temple had in the area.
I know that they had a meeting at which they said they didn’t want Ryan at Jonestown when I was not at the meeting because I was required to work the said [radios]. Jim Jones said that he would not let Ryan into Jonestown unless he has words from
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Charles Garry and [Mark Lane, attorneys] for the People’s Temple. However up to Friday 17th November, 1978 everything looked okay. I recall on the said day while I was at Jonestown they called all persons up to circle the camp, like a banner guarding the area. Old persons were not allowed to do this and the children and the babies were placed under the dining area. I don’t know what he said to the people but they broke up and told to go home and put on some nice clothes, for Congressman Ryan would be there. This was about 1 – 2 PM in the evening.
I would also like to say [my wife’s] name Joycelyn Carter and a small girl named Kaywana. [several words deleted] and they were all dead. They were not shot. They were poisoned. I don’t know if they drank poison or if it was administered to them.
About 4 PM to 5 PM on 17.11.78, Ryan and party arrived at Jonestown. The entire settlement had supper. I know Ryan and party were at the dinner table eating. All persons were eating the same food but that was only for this occasion for guests usually have better food. They had a show dancing and I had the feeling that it ended at about 11 PM the said night. Before the show was over, Ryan had been speaking to several persons whom he requested to speak to and this was granted to him. I saw him speak to [name deleted] and I heard him speak to other persons. They were newsmen and some relatives who came to Jonestown with the Ryan party. They came in about 7 PM the said night.
About 12 midnight the entire party left for Port Kaituma. The following day Saturday 18th November, 1978 Congressman Ryan and his aide slept in Jonestown. The following morning they returned to Jonestown. However about 7:30 AM and 8 AM Congressman Ryan and his aide ate breakfast and started to speak to people again. It was about 10 AM when the relatives and news people came in. Ryan was talking to people while news men were taking pictures etc.
About 2:30 PM Penny Klass [Kerns] who is now dead by poison came up to the radio room and said that Parks wanted to leave with Congressman Ryan. I then said that I figured that some people would want to leave, because everybody did not like that kind of living. She left. Shortly after I saw Bishop Jones go to where the Congressman and party were and they started to talk. All the [name deleted, either Parks or Bogue] family was over there.
After that Mr. Dick Dwyer of the US Embassy in Guyana came to the radio room and asked me to radio Georgetown and let them make arrangements for another plane to be up there because six more people wanted to leave Jonestown. He did not give me the names of the persons. Dick [Tropp] radioed Georgetown. About 3 PM Dick came back and said that now is nine persons. He again made contact with Georgetown. The person operating the set in Georgetown was Sharon Amos. She related a message that [Doug Ellice] the US Consul had found a five-seat plane to help bring out people.
So after that all kinds of people were in the pavilion. Then after it stopped raining they started to leave on a truck. Dick Dwyer again came back to the radio room and related to [name deleted] that 12 more would be coming and Congressman Ryan would be staying at Jonestown along with himself. The settlers
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watched them get on to the truck. I don’t know where Rev. Jones was at the time. I heard the truck come up and Rev. Jones came walking up the pathway with about 100 or 200 people.
At the said time I heard a commotion at the pavilion, and in the compound everybody was trying to see what was going on. Shortly after someone asked for a bulldozer over the public address system for the truck was stuck and it needed a bulldozer. Then Penny Kerns came up to me and said Ujara Sly legal name Donald Sly tried to stab Congressman Ryan. He said that he was okay but she cannot believe it.
Shortly after five minutes someone said over the public address system that “everyone please go home and relax”. The person was Marceline Jones. She is dead. Then Marie Katson [Maria Katsaris] the personal secretary or aide to Jim Jones told [name deleted] the radio so that they would transmit until Georgetown it’s power problems. [Line deleted]
At this time Jim Jones was meeting the two attorneys and most of the top aides in the camp. I ran out for a breath of air and I saw [several words deleted] and we started to talk what was happening. Shortly after [words deleted] came up and told [several words deleted] to get dressed and take a package someplace. Same time Lu [Lew Jones] made an announcement for everyone to come to the pavilion over the public address system. [Several words deleted] and at the time I figured that they would be talking about suicide, if not then soon after. I walked away by the pavilion to go to Jim Jones’ house to reach Maria when I saw people starting to go to the pavilion. I went up to the house and I saw Mike Prokes was sitting on the steps in front of the house with a suitcase and I walked up and at the same time Maria came out of the house. I saw [name deleted] come up with a jug of water [name deleted] took off back of the compound. She said good luck and [line deleted].
While we were going we saw an empty tractor and trailer coming towards Jonestown. Only the driver inside. It could have been that they had other persons in the trailer. We hid from the trailer. [5 or six lines deleted] empty. By this time it was dark and we went on our way. We finally reached the front gate of Jonestown and no one was at the gate. We decided to keep off the road because Maria told us that they would go after Congressman Ryan and so we feared for our lives. So we went to the said road track and went towards Kaituma. We rested for quite a while. This was about 9:30 PM on 18.11.78.
We then decided to go to Cudjoe to see who was on the boat and whether they heard what was going on at Kaituma. About 12 AM we were at Kaituma
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going towards the “Cudjoe” when the police picked us up. I now recall that Maria had given [line deleted] We started to ask questions and the police told us that they had mass suicide at Jonestown. We were taken down to the cassava mill where we were promised protection.
Yesterday 20.11.78 I went back to Jonestown with [name deleted] a police officer and I showed [words deleted] and identified some of the dead persons to him. I could not stand the scent and scene of the area. People whom I had spoken to a few days ago. I now recall that Maria had given [line deleted]. The police took it away.
Sgd. [Mike Carter]
This statement was taken by me on 21.11.78 between 5 and 7 PM at CID. [Several words deleted] was read over to him. He said that it was true and correct and signed his name to it in my presence.