By Muriel Bristol (Transcriber) | December 9, 2018
Several papers reported this Milton news item. Newspapers of the time had their own local news, but also filled column inches with news articles copied from local newspapers of other localities, even quite distant ones. If anything, this practice grew more prevalent after the advent of the telegraph and railroad.
Ensign David Pickings, aged 33, was drowned in Milton, N.H., on the 22 ult. He was on his way to town meeting on skates (Farmer’s Herald (St. Johnsbury, VT), February 23, 1829).
The Latin terms “inst.” or “instant,” to mean “this month,” and “ult.” or “ultima,” to mean “last month,” were commonly used in both handwritten documents and printed publications. Ensign David Pickings drowned on the 22 of January, i.e., last month or “ultima,” from the point of view of a February publication.
The US army changed the name of their junior officer rank from Cornet or Ensign to 2nd Lieutenant in 1800. The rank persists in the navy. The NH militia still retained the older name. It implies in part some degree of responsibility for the company ensign or flag.