Latin date references explained

Pioneer Cemetery (IOOF) Eugene Oregon

Henry Hays
born May 18, 1810
died Feb 10. 1883

“Another Pioneer Gone

The many friends of Mr. Henry Hays throughout Lane and Linn counties will regret to learn of his death, although he had lived to a good old age, having been born in Hardon county, Tennessee, in 1810.  Those who know him best were his best friends.  He moved to Oregon with his family  from the State of Missouri in 1852, and located in Lane county where he has ever since resided up to his death on the 28th ultimo.  He leaves an aged wife and seven children.  Those who knew him will bear us out in the statement that he was a true type of a good and noble man.  The funeral took place from the residence at 3 o’clock Thursday afternoon.  A brief but eloquent discourse was delivered by Prof. Condon, of the State University, and the remains were buried in the Odd Fellows cemetery.”  Eugene Morning Register March 3, 1883, pg. 5, col. 3.

This is a great example why obituaries are not primary source material.  If we only looked at his obituary we would not know the conflict in the death date that became clear when we saw the headstone.  The obituary says that he died “28th ultimo” or the 28th of the previous month.  The headstone says that  he died on the 10th of February.  My gut feeling is I would go with the marker for his death date, but make note of the date conflict in case future information comes to light.

Those who know him best were his best friends ” has to be the classic line from this obituary!

When reading old records and obituaries you will often come across the latin terms, “Ultimo, proximo and instant.”

Ultimo – short for ultimo mense.  Often abbreviated as ult, ulto, or u,  In latin this means “in the previous month.”  So when the obituary listed his death date as “28th ultimo” it means it occurred on the 28th of the previous month.

Proximo – short for proximo mense, abbreviated as prox or p.  In latin this term means “in the next month.”

Instant – short for instant mense, abbreviated as inst. In latin this means “in the current month.

This is a good example of why it is important, when possible, to look at multiple sources to compare information.  It is not uncommon to find conflicting information and those discrepancies should be resolved.


About gtoftdahl

Researching in Oregon Newspapers
This entry was posted in Death dates, Eugene Pioneer Cemetery (IOOF), Research helps. Bookmark the permalink.

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