09 April 2014

Getting to the Goals On Philip Troutfetter

Philip Troutfetter has the potential to be one of those genealogical "rabbit holes" from which one can never escape. There seems to be a never-ending amount of information on him.

There's not really an infinite amount of information on Philip Troutfetter, but reading the very end of the letter a post office inspector wrote about him in 1900 reminded me a of sources I have not tried:

  • the Pinkerton private investigation company's records (I've actually contacted them once, but heard no reply)
  • the records of the U. S. Consul in Columbia (which should be at the National Archives)

Letter from W. T. Sullivan to Chief Post Office Inspector, 6 July 1900,
investigation of Philip A Troutfetter (aka P A Taylor), W. T. Sullivan files,
Kansas Historical Society
The potential exists for some really neat records with some potentially "neat" discoveries to be made.


The questions are "what is my goal?" and "will that goal be served by locating these records?" The records of the consul may be expensive to obtain and I'm still working on even making initial contact with Pinkertons. Finding out everything about Philip Troutfetter is interesting and provides some fascinating insight into the very late 19th and early 20th centuries. But is worth the cost to obtain this insight? What do I really want to know about Philip?

I already have pretty good information on where Philip was born, who his parents were, when and where he married, and when and where he died. If the items the investigator mentions can be located, they will likely only provide secondary information on those events in his life and I already have more reliable sources for those items.

I may get some details on Troutfetter's time in Cuba and South America and that may be interesting. There is the chance that the investigations may provide some details about his family or his lifestyle. The key word here is "chance." I need to remember that the investigation is only concerned with finding Troutfetter and documenting his crimes. Investigators of this type are not interested in compiling family histories of their charges. They would only be interested in his background if it was determined that it would help their case. And, as already mentioned, information on his origins and early life would be secondary at best.

Some of the information could be interesting and some may even be a bit scandalous. But it all still depends upon how much I'm willing to pay for "interesting."

And that's something I should think about before I spend too much time and money accessing these records (unless blog readers start sending me massive amounts of email wanting to know more...).