Thursday, May 22, 2014

Making Connections

            One definition of intelligence is the ability to make connections. Someone with a higher level of intelligence makes them in  more complex, more minute ways than others do. Sometimes this definition makes me feel stupid.

            A historian’s success depends on making connections – connecting event with event, people with people and people with events. Sometimes those things sit in front of me and I don’t see them until my slow moving brain clicks.

            That happened today. The click was audible. (That might be an exaggeration, but it’s not much of one.)

            In volume one of A Separate Identity we identify a “W. W. F.” with Walter F. Fahnestock, a Pittsburgh hardware merchant. It’s a solid identification, and in its context just an interesting detail. But we peruse identities when we can. We were successful with that.

            In volume two (writing in progress) we discuss a Joseph J. Bender. He’s on the obscure side, even if we know some things about him. To retrieve an obscure fact, I reread the chapter in which he appears. And lo! Joseph J. Bender worked for Fahnestock White Lead Company. Now we know Bender’s most probable rout of entry into the Watch Tower movement.

            This illustrates why details are important, and it illustrates why sending us things you may see as of no significance is important.


            Some probable connections are beyond testing. If you read A Separate Identity, Volume 1, you will remember the newspapers saying Wendell ran off with a girl named Terry. (You remember that, right?) We see a probable connection and more reasonable explanation of events in the suggestion that this was one of the daughters of the Terry family. They hosted the 1873 assembly of those waiting for Christ that fall or winter. We’ve never found enough documentation to confirm this. One of you may be more adept at that than we’ve been.

No comments: