Name change causes confusion at the courthouse

Herald Staff Writer

It has become a running joke at the Dubois County Courthouse.

Is it Bridgette Jarboe or Bridgette Bartley?


Since marrying in June, the county clerk has been going through a bit of an identity crisis.

In her role as clerk, she has decided to stick with Bridgette Jarboe, a move that will save taxpayers the expense of having to change the office stationery, official filing stamps and courthouse signage that bear her surname. But outside of work, she answers to Bridgette Bartley.

“How’s that for confusing?” she said. “It’s two separate lives. I get to have dual personalities.”

She and Michael Bartley were married June 28 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Jasper. Though she decided to take her spouse’s name, she struggled with how to handle the situation at work.

Voters know her as Jarboe. If she were to swap surnames, she would, to a degree, sacrifice some name recognition. Plus, there would be the cumbersome task of changing all her computer passwords when she logs in to county and state databases.

“It’s a lot of hassle,” she said.

Her decision, though, was motivated largely by expense. If she went by Bartley, the sign hanging above the clerk’s office bearing her maiden name would have to come down.

Every legal document filed in the clerk’s office is file stamped with her signature. Those stamps also would have to be changed.

Not to mention business cards and stationery. Her office orders 5,000 envelopes at a time.

Stationery alone would run more than $1,000, she said. And old office supplies would have to be gotten rid of.

“Then we have all this waste,” she said. “That’s just not good common sense.”

It would cost thousands of dollars to make all the changes.

“It’s definitely not the county’s responsibility to pay for me to change my name,” said Jarboe, a Republican who was elected in 2010.

After talking it over with her husband, they agreed it was best for her to use Jarboe in her role as clerk. But “when I’m in mom role or wife role, my last name is Bartley,” she said.

Jarboe isn’t the first local woman to get married while in office. Elaine B. Brown married Michael Elliott during her second term as Dubois County Superior Court judge in the 1990s.

But her name never was an issue. She sat out a term, deciding to leave the bench to work in private practice before running again in 2004.

During that time, she and Elliott divorced. On the ballot, her name always appeared as Brown.

She left superior court in 2008 after being appointed to the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Dr. Marjorie Hershey, a political science professor at Indiana University, said it makes sense for incumbents to go with the name “people are most familiar with.”

Changing names while in office may confuse voters and hurt an officeholder’s name recognition, which they work so hard to attain, Hershey said.

Contact Tony Raap at

More on