Reasonably Exhaustive Searches are Taxing

I did not take the time to go and see Chas. Ensminger…who has been assessor as all he would know has been covered by the evidence more definite.

Welsh’s statement was made in his summary of the testimony and documentary evidence he had received in the Civil War widow’s pension claim of Nancy J. Rampley. He decided it was not worth his time to see the local township assessor because he apparently already had the same information from a more direct source at the county tax office.

There’s a nice tie-in between Welsh’s statement and the evaluation of genealogical evidence. Researchers should attempt to obtain the most reliable and most direct sources of information–not necessarily as many different repetitions of that they can get their hands on. Welsh’s report contained property tax information from county officials. The source of tax information and amounts paid does not get any more direct than that and the amounts were what the examiner was after. Ensminger’s testimony would not add to that information. It would also not really be a “different” source.

How often do we use “different” sources that are not really “different” at all? An obituary and a death certificate that provide the same place of birth are different documents, but they likely have the same original informant. In one sense they are not really “different” from the standpoint of analyzing information. Much like the township assessor was not different from the county tax office.

I guess we could say that the investigator had done a “reasonably exhaustive search” for the tax information.

Why was BJ8 omitted from the quote?

Editorial license is why. The quote looked simpler without the reference number included. BJ8 was the witness number assigned to Ensminger by the special examiner and has no impact on the quote. The ellipses were used to indicate that something had been removed from the quote.

Learn More About Exhaustive Search

Evidence Explained: Third Edition Revised will explain more about exhaustive search and citation. It will also include citation examples for tax records and Civil War pensions.


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