Occasionally readers request assistance with research, or to solve a puzzle. We finally solved this puzzle, then we learned some interesting things about the person who sent it to us.
A few weeks ago we received a request from Kelly Park of Skiatook, Oklahoma. Technically, Skiatook is in both Osage and Tulsa Counties but is generally considered to be an Osage County city. Osage County is the largest county in Oklahoma and is the Osage Nation Reservation.
Kelly was transcribing a baptismal letter, written by Father Paul Ponziglione, that has been passed down through his family. He was having trouble interpreting a word. The letter recorded the baptism of Augustus Cyrus Captain, Ririe on 11th of April, 1877. The baptism was performed by Father Ponziglione, on Hominy Creek, Osage Reservation, Indian Territory.
Kelly sent an image of the letter and told me he was having trouble determining the first word of the second paragraph "(_____?) George Henry Newman and Isabella Captain." He found our website and discovered I have been transcribing Father Ponziglione's memoirs. He thought my experience could help him decipher the writing. Having transcribed more than 100 pages of Father Paul's writing I was pretty confident too — until I saw it.
I had No Clue what that word was! None!
Both Rosie and I looked at it, squinted, held the document at various angles and nothing popped out. The crease in the paper, at the bottom of the line, didn't help. Finally I looked at some of the material that I had already transcribed, and a light went on. While Father Paul's writing is pretty consistent, his letter "S" can take on several forms.  The word in question appeared to be "Sponsors."
That made sense. George Henry Newman and Isabella Captain were the baptismal sponsors for Augustus.
Some Background (and some of it is local).
I responded to Kelly and we agreed on the word "Sponsors." In correspondence Kelly told me that Isabella Captain was his 2nd great grandmother and the sister of Julia Captain Ririe, whose son was baptized.
The Osage side of Kelly's ancestry has a deep roots with the Catholic Osage Mission/St. Paul. He had researched Louis Burns' "Osage Mission: Baptisms, Marriages and Interments." Julia Captain was also baptized by Fr. Paul on November 25, 1855. Julia's father was Augustus "Ogeese" Captain, a one-half blood Osage.
He had also read our transcription of Father Paul's memoir, Chapter XI - "Miss Lucille St. Pierre came to the Neosho." The chapter mentions Edward Chouteau's wife Rosalia Captain Chouteau. Rosalia was Kelly's fourth great aunt and the sister of Augustus Ogeese Captain. If the name sounds familiar to St. Paul residents, Ogeese Creek, four miles west of town, is named after Augustus Ogeese
Closed the Loop — Very Sadly.
Kelly sent a photo of the grave stone of Augustus Ririe, who the baptismal Record is for. The grave is in the Captain Cemetery, southwest of Skiatook. From the inscription on the stone, young Augustus died on March 30, 1895. He barely made it to his 18th birthday. His Mother, Julia, passed a month later. Click on the photo at right to read the inscription.
By the way - Kelly has another connection with Captain Cemetery. In our last correspondence, he said he was heading out to mow it. They are proud of their historic cemetery.
Some Reference Information:
1. His Handwriting.
in her book, Beacon on the Plains, Sister Mary Paul Fitzgerald refers to Father Ponziglione's "diamond-fine script." His handwriting is pretty consistent — but with some quirks. His letter "S", both upper and lower-case, is one of them, A lower-case "s" often looks like a vertical or slanted line with a slight curve; and the upper-"s" might blend into the next letter. The height might be the same as surrounding letters; or it can include a flourish that extends up into the line above. But, with practice, the lower-case "s" is recognizable.
However, his upper-case "S" can look like S's, G's, F's and other things. That is what caused the head scratching with Kelly's document. When the letter appears in an otherwise recognizable word it is easy to decipher. In the case of the baptism record, it wasn't. A sample of his memoir is shown above. Words with the upper case "S" are highlighted. You can see lower case "s" in other places. Once you master his "S, s" the rest is fairly easy.
There — you have been trained to read Fr. P's handwriting!
2. The Baptismal Letter.
A sharp eye might have noticed a couple of things in the letter:
Thoughts 'n Things
Some 'Thoughts' and short articles about past and present-day St. Paul and the Southern Kansas - 4 State Region.