I spend a lot of time looking at the census for Goshen. So much so that names I’ve never researched are familiar to me – some I can even predict when they’re coming up on the next page. Eventually I will know everything about everyone who ever lived in Goshen. That’s an achievable goal, right?
Okay, in all seriousness, I’d be content to meet my first goal, which is a history of my block. While it’s personal to me (and therefore interesting), I also like that it’s a micro-community. The experience that I have had – or perhaps ‘created’ – on this block has brought me to think about how the neighbors here might have interacted in past generations. Though I have to admit that we are probably on the extreme end of the “friendly neighbor” spectrum, as it’s hard to imagine they would have shared nightly meals together.
Doing research in a linear, rule-oriented fashion can be difficult because it’s easy to get drawn into a story. Sometimes one character seems especially interesting and you find yourself knowing more about that one person than the person you set out to “know”. Trying to determine where relevant facts start and end is a question every researcher has to weigh out for themselves. But In the case of house histories, it’s easy enough to chunk a map into sections and start with yourself.
So I’ve come to find a certain method that is working well to meet my goals, those goals being mainly two things: To have an easily accessible resource on the history and residents of each house, and to know something about each of those residents. These should be two separate documents, as one is neat and tidy, and the other is subject to the whims of what I determine relevant.
And so I will begin, starting with my house, 212 East Jefferson Street. Each of these posts will be edited as I come across more information, because the simple fact is that this work is never “done”.