Friday, April 01, 2011

Inst. and Ult. Lead Me on a Merry Chase

When reading very old articles, I often run across phrases using the strange-looking abbreviations "inst." or "ult."  Here are two examples:
Obituary for Swanson Lunsford from City Gazette and Daily Advertiser (Charleston, SC) 16 Aug 1799, p2.  Found on  Used with permission.
When used as part of a date, "inst." is an abbreviation for "instant" and means "in this same month" or "in the current month."  

Obituary for George Wade from The Southern Chronicle (Camden, SC) 17 Dec 1823, p3 col3.  Found on  Used with permission.
"Ult." is an abbreviation for the Latin "ultimo," meaning last.  When used as part of a date, it indicates the previous month.  

The Merry Chase

There are issues with both of these obituaries that I discovered only this morning.  They made me take a harder look at my facts.  Even though these two gentlemen are on my mother's side far across my family tree from the Reeds, I cannot resist sharing this with you.

Swanson Lunsford was my 5-great grandfather.  He is buried on the grounds of the South Carolina State House.  (Click here to see his grave.) The obituary above states that he died on August 17, 1799.  According to his tombstone, however, he died on Aug 7, 1799.  In addition, neither August 7 nor 17 were on a Wednesday that year.  Confusing things further is the fact that the paper was dated Aug 16!  My conclusion:  Stick with the tombstone date.

George Wade was my 6-great grandfather and father-in-law to Swanson Lunsford.  (He is said to be buried in an unmarked grave behind his second wife's family's home here in Columbia, SC.)  For years I have had his death date as 23 Oct 1823, because that's the date given on "Family Data Collection - Individual Records," a database found on which is at best a secondary source.  (However, it is often the only source available.)  This morning I discovered that according to this obituary, he died 23 NOV 1823, not in October.

George Wade's will (click here to see) yielded the fact that he signed his will on 23 Oct 1823, his witness was sworn on 27 Nov 1823, and his executor qualified on 28 Nov 1823.  My conclusion:  Go with the newspaper date of 23 NOV 1823. 

It pays to keep your mind open to all possibilities, especially when looking for information as old as this.  It is our continual duty to "Verify, Verify,Verify!"

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