Well preserved 1766 Waenseil inscription on a stone marker that may be a gravestoneshowing intentially placed dots over 'I' (2), the 1st leg of suffix 'N' & before & after '9' in dateenter image description here A marker was recently found that has a date on the top line, a first initial followed by the surname on the 2nd line and a woman's married name (same as the surname on line 2) but ends with an 'N'. What is the significance of the 'N' at end of the sur/last name WAeNSeIL (later Wagenseller ☆) on the third line?

I wonder if perhaps an 'N' when added to the end a woman's last name on a marker might be for 'nee' to indicate she is the mother of a deceased child named above? The marker is from 1766 in Pennsylvania & in German. There is no indication if the date on it is a date for birth or death. If a baby born & died on the same day, I suppose one date would suffice would it not?

Two photos are included of the marker stone that does not appear to be flat like a prepared gravestone & may have much depth that recently became exposed in a park trail. A close up crop of the inscription is also included to focus attention on intentionally inscribed dots over 2 capital 'I's and an identical dot placed over the left leg of the capital 'N' suffix, the latter, thereby, incorporating an 'i' in the 'N' that would be understood to be the suffix '-in' for a female in German. Close examination of the closeup photo with circles around 2 periods and 3 dots provided the finding that answered the the question of what is the meaning of a surname with a suffix '-N' on a marker stone in New World German culture during the 18th century?

☆ Wagenseller reference: The History Of The Wagenseller Family In America, With Kindred Branches. Edited and Compiled by Geo. W. Wagenseller, A. M., Middleburgh, Pa. Middleburgh, Penna.: Wagenseller Publishing Company. 1898.


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In the Wikipedia Article, German Name see section Gender-specific surname variants

In Bavarian dialect surnames of women sometimes are formed by adding the ending "-in", used in standard High German to indicate noun variants for women or items of grammatical feminine gender, such as Näherin (seamstress)"

For more information about the -in suffix in various usages see the FamilySearch Research Wiki article Germany Naming Customs, section Grammatical Changes in German Surnames subsection -in.


Answer: I feel there is a strong basis to regard the 1 dot over the 1st leg of the 'N' suffix (1 dotted 'N' suffix) in this inscription as a shorthand for the German suffix '-in' in inscriptions from the 1700s and was used to denote a female person (ref. 1). When I released this answer, I had not found information to connect the 1 dotted 'N' suffix, now understood to be the suffix ‘-in’ that denotes a woman, for if it is also applied to denote wife and mother. However, upon rereading the last line source in reference (1), I had missed that it is stated surnames of wives and mothers often end with '-in'. So, its application in this case can indicate both a wife and mother. Hence, the suffix ‘-one dotted N’ can be understood to denote the mother of a child whose name (presumes a male providing '-in' can be applied to girls) appears above hers on a marker stone.

I am not aware if this conclusion is accepted by grave inscription archivists or for that matter known by them. The recently found stone with the inscription was mostly protected by ground & turf cover that appears to have preserved it very well it to a level where periods and intentionally made dots appear fresh as though they were applied no more than a few decades ago as opposed to gravestone inscriptions that have become badly weathered over 200 years or more. Form my limited contacts, I have only two sources who knew of the ‘N’ suffix but did not know what it meant (one from the comments that were made). After all, without knowing that the ‘I’ for the suffix ‘-in’ is combined within the ‘N’ and indicated by finding a dot over the first leg of the ‘N’, it makes no sense.

I appreciate everyone’s input and engagement in helping in this search to determine what the one letter suffix ‘-N’ means. Nothing, without knowing an ‘I’ for the suffix ‘-in’ is combined in the letter ‘N’ but cannot be perceived without finding an inscribed dot placed over the first leg of the ‘N’ that was likely convention in New World German culture during the 1700s.


The suffix ‘-N’ on this marker with a dot over the first leg is the suffix ‘-in’ for female, in my opinion. By this means the female individual named on the third line of the marker is likely also a mother and probably the mother of a person named on the second line. The marker is probably a well preserved gravestone from 1766, perhaps of a one day old male child.


  1. Second Answer from Jan Murphy Jan Murphy answer

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