Is It the Right Person Period?

I’m working on man named Rufus D. Stephens.

As I work on Rufus, I become aware of the need to remember that I may not have the same person just because the name matches. The other details matter to. My problem is made slightly easier because the Rufus in which I am interested usually uses the middle initial “D.” But he could easily appear in a record without that initial. I have absolutely no idea what the initial “D” stands for.

My first knowledge of Rufus is a 1850 census enumeration in Michigan where he is living near a married woman who is believed to be his daughter. As I find Rufus in other records in other states (he’s believed to have lived in Michigan, Illinois, and New York, as well as the province of Ontario), I have to constantly ask myself: is this the same person?

And if I think it is not the same person, I have to ask myself if the records that I think are all from one Rufus really are from one Rufus. That evaluation needs to be constant.

Because maybe the “new” record is my Rufus and maybe some of the records that I already have in my Rufus profile are not really all for my Rufus. I shouldn’t throw out that new record too quickly.

Because maybe what I think is my Rufus really isn’t my Rufus.