OBSESSION

Sanford "Sandy" Wilbur
February 2006

I take my historical research seriously, and sometimes get really wrapped up in a problem. That's probably why I had the dream I had a few nights ago.

  Abraham Nottage, Martin Van Buren Leach, and John Eslick and their families have proven especially hard to follow through the various federal censuses. For one reason, the Nottage and Eslick names were almost always spelled incorrectly by census takers, and some of the renditions they came up with are mind boggling. There's no way to do a "sounds like" search, because some of the spellings don't "sound like." For another reason, these families couldn't seem to stay in one place for more than a year at a time, and even knowing approximately where they ought to be in any given year hasn't helped much. So, there was my dream.
  I seldom remember dreams, but this one is still vivid in my mind. It seemed to go on most of the night, but who knows with dreams how long they really are? Anyway, my leads to the Nottages, Leaches, and Eslicks were no better in Dreamland than they had been when I was awake. No better, that is, until the answer to it all came clear to me: these people had seen some crime, and their knowledge of it was so dangerous that they had been placed in the Witness Protection Program. Now, I have heard that people protected in such a way are sometimes not very safe - and have suffered the ultimate consequences for that lack of safety - but clearly this time the Feds had done one hell of a job. They were unfindable, even 150 years later.
  I guess I feel better about my research skills.


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