Taming the Wild Goose I’m Chasing

So, I made an interesting observation–there are no dead Isaac Phillipses in New York who died before 1870 in Find-a-Grave. Which doesn’t guarantee that there aren’t dead Isaac Phillipses in New York, just that their graves are lost. But it made me wonder–is there a dead Isaac Phillips in Michigan, like, say, if a man came with his son from New York to Michigan and then he died?

And, lo, and behold, there is an Isaac Phillips dead in Michigan. He has a wife, Phebe. I found him dead in the North Eagle Cemetery and I found him living in Eagle, Michigan. Here’s where my mind started to get blown. In 1860, his neighbors in Eagle were the Josiah Pennington family (Isaac’s daughter Loretta and her husband), the Briggs family (nobody I know), someone whose name I can’t read, an Eddy family (which is probably some relation to Phebe, who was an Eddy, or her and Isaac’s son, Perry, who married an Eddy, the McCrmmms (the census taker is not very legible, but both McCrmmm families are spelled McCrmmm), the Hills, and Chester Hildreth and his family.

Chester Hildreth is the uncle of my Great-Great-Grandma, Mary Hildreth, who married Oscar Phillips (who, remember, had a son named Frank, my Great Grandpa).

Here are Eagle, Michigan Isaac Phillips’s known children, according to Ancestry.com folks

Orin Phillips (couldn’t verify his existence), no birthday

Phoebe Phillips 1798

Electa Phillips 1812

Louisa Phillips 1819

Mary Phillips 1820

Joseph Phillips 1823

Perry Phillips 1826

Susan Phillips 1832

Loretta Phillips 1833

Joseph Phillips has a son named Frank. More interesting is this Orin. It shows up a couple of times as a middle name in Isaac’s grandchildren. Luke’s son Alfred named his kid Lewis Orin Phillips (and he, coincidentally, had a son named Frank).

And where is Eagle, Michigan? It’s right east of Portland, where Oscar and one of his brothers lived for a while. It’s just north of Chester, where so very many of my dead Phillipses are, and within spitting distance of where Ralph (another of Oscar’s sons) and his kids Van and Roy lived. Jay Phillips, whose son, also Frank, had the farm just down the road from Luke, and who I suspect is Luke’s brother (the Franks, both families have Roys, and the proximity of Jay’s Frank’s farm to Luke’s) was born in 1815. Isaac has a convenient hole in known children there.

Luke was born in 1808. Nice convenient hole there.

Sayles Phillips, if he is, indeed related in, was born in 1801, and there’s room for him there, too.

Now, let’s look at the 1810 census data of the New York Isaac I suspect of being Luke’s father. In 1810, there’s 2 males under ten, 1 male 26-44, 1 female under ten, 1 female 10-15, and one female 45 and older. That would fit Phoebe, Sayles, and Luke.

I don’t quite know how to knit this together from both ends, but it’s going to be much more feasible for me to get up to Michigan again to dig around about this Isaac than to go to New York any time soon, so I’m happy to have a lead.


I’m having a kind of weird reaction to this, because I feel like I’ve been living in some alternate history where everyone already knew this was happening. I mean, maybe that’s just because I read and converse with a lot of leftists and libertarians, but I’m completely befuddled that people are surprised and outraged by this, now.

It was surprising and outrageous ten years ago. People were outraged and upset about it then. And the whole nation was like “Blah blah blah. War on Terrorism. Who gives a shit?” and we were all “Well, me, and, when it bites you in the ass, you.”

And here we are. And it’s like all the people who were all “La la la, I can’t hear you” when folks tried to sound the alarm about this years ago, really did just not hear.

So, let’s just be clear: It’s not just Verizon. And the only real privacy you have from the government is in the fact that there’s just so much data that they’ve very unlikely to focus in on you. You are a proverbial needle in a data haystack.

And that’s been the truth for a decade. Welcome to the weirdness of it.