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THE EDITORS’ VIEW

Identity can be defined as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual.”1 In genealogical terms, however, the concept is far more complex. Every person in the history of the world is unique. Only one individual bought forty acres bordering specific neighbors on 2 December 1842 in a given county. Only that grantee (or his or her close associate) paid tax on the same land the next summer. Only he (or his close associate) sold it twenty years later. The records left by a person’s interactions with his surrounding environment form his unique identity. Genealogical research consists of assembling the evidence of those actions and building a picture of an individual’s life, a picture that distinguishes him from any other.

Establishing identity is often easier said than done. Sometimes a record that should fit neatly into a person’s timeline simply doesn’t say what it should say. Harold Henderson gathered solid evidence that Elizabeth, wife of Harry Porter, was the daughter of Lewis and Dorcas (Hoxie) Bassett. Yet the petition to probate Lewis’s will did not include Elizabeth and her children in the listing of the heirs, despite a New York law requiring their inclusion. By building a picture of Elizabeth’s identity, and doing the same for her family and associates, Harold was able to place her firmly within this family.

Warner Lockwood, a New York native, appeared in Brunswick County, North Carolina, in the mid-1820s, apparently without close associates, and then married and settled there. What drew him to that area? How can one determine the parents of a man who seems to migrate alone? Faced with this very problem, Capers McDonald dug deep into Warner’s life and deduced plausible answers to both questions.

Jim Bouldin was faced with a family tradition that didn’t make sense. Even the nineteenth-century amateur family historian Eliza Whittingham recognized and pointed out the story’s inconsistencies. Diligent research—not all of which was possible in Eliza’s day—uncovered more than one John Whittingham in the area who might have been the father of the immigrant Richard. Teasing out the evidence and assembling each man’s biography narrowed the field to just one possible father for Richard.

Establishing identity requires more than a single record. It’s more than when and where someone was born, married, and died. It’s more than discovering someone’s parents and grandparents. Only by understanding the complete context of a person’s life can we successfully distinguish him from others. Successful genealogical research requires discovering an individual’s unique identity.

Laura Murphy DeGrazia, CG, FGBS

Karen Mauer Green, CG, FGBS

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1 Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 2003), s.v. “identity,” definition 2a.

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THE NEW YORK
Genealogical and Biographical Record

VOLUME 145 JULY 2014 NUMBER 3

CONTENTS

 
A MISSING HEIR: RECONNECTING ELIZABETH (BASSETT) PORTER TO HER
PARENTS, LEWIS AND DORCAS (HOXIE) BASSETT
by Harold A. Henderson, CG .......... 165
 
WARNER LOCKWOOD OF NEW YORK, NORTH CAROLINA, AND ILLINOIS
by Capers W. McDonald ..........  185
 
THE ANCESTRY OF ELDER HENRY HAIT, PRIMITIVE BAPTIST PREACHER
OF CONNECTICUT AND NEW YORK (concluded)
by Michael Grant Hait, CG ..........  202
 
CORRECTING THE SHROPSHIRE, ENGLAND, LINE OF THE WHITTINGHAMS
OF NEW YORK CITY
by Jim Boulden .......... 207
 
A POSSIBLE LINEAGE FOR JOHN WHITTINGHAM, INNKEEPER, OF
SHROPSHIRE, ENGLAND
by Jim Boulden  .......... 217
 
WAS LOUISA, DAUGHTER OF AARON AND LUCY ([–?–]) BEARD OF
CONNECTICUT, MASSACHUSETTS, AND CHENANGO COUNTY, NEW
YORK, THE SECOND WIFE OF THOMAS STREETER OF STEUBEN
COUNTY, NEW YORK? (continued)
by Perry Streeter  .......... 222
 
Regular Features
 
THE EDITORS’ VIEW ........... 163
 
NECROLOGY OF MEMBERS ........... 155
 
REVIEWS .......... 237
Board for Certification of Genealogists. Genealogy Standards. By Angela Packer McGhie