Silly Symbol

I was filling out an affidavit today and I came across the letters “SS” at the top, next to the lines where I was meant to enter the state and city. Was this something to do with signatures? My social security number? No. It is, I discovered, completely meaningless:

First, it is contended that the complaint was insufficient to confer jurisdiction upon the police judge to cause the arrest, because of the absence of a venue. That is, as we understand counsel, because the charging part of the document is not preceded by the words: State of Nebraska, Otoe County, ss. We think this objection is not well taken. There is no peculiar virtue in the cabalistic characters “SS,” which are presumed to have been anciently symbolical of something, but nobody knows precisely what. The complaint appears upon its face to have been sworn to before a peace officer of Otoe county, whom it explicitly informs of the commission, by the persons therein named, of an alleged criminal act within that county. This is the sole purpose of a venue, and we think it may as well be expressed in “ordinary and concise” English, as in a supposed abbreviation of long disused and perhaps not strictly correct Latin.

—Seay v. Shrader, 69 Neb. 245, 247—-48, 95 N.W. 690, 691 (1903)

In fact, though, it is a flourish deriving from the Year Books—an equivalent of the paragraph mark “¶.” … An early formbook writer incorporated it into his forms, and ever since it has been mindlessly perpetuated by one generation after another.

—Bryan A. Garner, A Dictionary of Modern Legal Usage (2d ed. 1995)

I always thought the “SS” after the place designation meant “signed and sealed,” that is, a formally verified signature (in modern terms, notarized). But I see that my older copy of Black’s Law Dictionary, pre-Garner, says it is thought to be an abbreviation for “subscripsi” (undersigned), or perhaps for “scilicet” (“to wit”).