Casefile Clues

06 October 2013

Spelling Augusta Without the "u"

As a person who has his own definite preference for his first name, I try and be cognizant of my ancestor's preferences as well--at least when it can be determined.

That's why I'm revisiting my ancestor, a Mr. Newman who died in White County, Indiana in 1861. I'll be honest, my use of a certain first name for him came from what I found years ago in printed county histories and other records, as well as from other researchers. Local records did mention this specific ancestor, but any renderings of his name in those records were made by clerks and others--not by him. Even transcribed deed records do not contain his actual signature. It's always possible that a hurried clerk or one who could not read his signature wrote it in the deed record the way they "thought" it should be spelled.

In working on issues of Casefile Clues, I've been looking at copies of original documents signed by this ancestor and it looks like in some cases he signed his name "Agusta" and not "Augusta."

I'm going to revisit some other original signatures I have on this ancestor--in particular the military bounty land applications and the surrendered warrant. Based upon the signatures on those records, I'll decide how I should spell this ancestor's name in my database. I'm leaning towards Agusta based upon signatures in marriage bonds from Nicholas County.

Lesson: we don't always have actual signatures of our ancestors, but original records (not record copies) are excellent places to obtain those signatures. In our research, Agusta, Augusta, Auguste, Gust all are reasonable variants of the same first name and should be included and should be transcribed as written. But in how I refer to this ancestor in my database, various charts and reports, I will use how he signed his name the majority of the time.
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