The problem first appeared in New Bedford, Massachusetts where Equi family members settled in the mid-1840s. Equi’s father – Giovanni, later John – arrived in the old whaling city as a teenager in May 1853, leaving behind his parents in Fornaci di Barga, a small town near the walled city of Lucca in Tuscany. Three of his brothers immigrated to America as well, and they retained the family name. But, at some point, John Equi changed his to Aque, reportedly as a good-will measure to match how locals pronounced it. With that piece of information, I was able to trace Marie’s parents and siblings throughout the Northeast and the West.
Official documents usually recorded Equi’s father as John Aque, although different spellings still occurred depending, probably, on a clerk’s diligence. Real estate transactions, church and court records, and even gravestones carried Aque. When Marie Equi first arrived in The Dalles, Oregon to begin her homestead adventure in 1892, the Times-Mountaineer newspaper announced her as “Miss Aque of New Bedford.” By the time she studied medicine in Portland, Oregon, however, she had adopted the original spelling.
Coming Soon: Marie Equi – How do you pronounce that?