Re: Benjamin 1734-1832 and Jeremiah Bolling
Mike, I think your approach to this subject is both practical and creative.I particularly liked the following observation: "The insistence on primary sources, while desireable, may leave us without answers. Genealogy seems more like a murder investigation, rife with false leads, missing evidence, contradictions, and outright lies, rather than a murder mystery with clearcut and unassailable proof. We often have to sort the evidence and make decisions on the preponderance, rather than a smoking gun."
Primary sources and clear evidence are often hard to come by when pursuing a family history back through the centuries.To INSIST on primary sources when none may exist is, as you suggest, futile.
What intrigues me about the controversy surrounding the offspring of John and Elizabeth Blair Bolling is that while plenty of contemporary evidence links the eight "consensus" Red Bollings to their dad, no contemporary evidence supports the idea that any of the 12 "Blues" were children of John Bolling.It's not as if there's "some" evidence for William, "more" for Benjamin, "less" for Rolfe, etc., it's that there's none for any of them.I do NOT conclude from this that the paternity of John Bolling for one or more of the 12 should be definitively ruled out.I just find it curious that there are all kinds of contemporary writings about the eight and their connection to John Bolling and nothing for the 12.
Your idea of trying to find patterns in Blue Bolling narratives is excellent.When I started my own research a few years ago I focused on one of the 12: Powhatan (1754-?).After several years of searching and imploring fellow researchers to share with me information about the Powhatan Bolling born in 1754, I came to the conclusion that the person who created the list subsequently published by Zelma Wells Price and others had made a mistake.The real Powhatan Bolling (1767-1803) was a grandson of John Bolling.The list-maker had probably heard of Powhatan Bolling and assumed he was a child of John and Elizabeth, creating (on what basis we'll probably never know) a date and place of birth.The list-maker -- who presumably was very much focused on his own ancestor -- may have used a similar approach to account for other Bollings he heard of.
Is the Powhatan Bolling error a "smoking gun" that implies something negative about the other 11 disputed names?I'll let others decide.Although I firmly believe (for example) that the "William and Amelia Randolph Bolling" story is largely mythological, I'm not prepared to say with certitude that none of the 12 was fathered by John Bolling.It just strikes me as interesting that IF we were to approach this on a "clean slate" basis -- throwing out the consensus over eight names -- we would quickly find plenty of 18th century evidence for the eight and none whatsoever for the other 12.
My modest suggestion is that the "Red, White and Blue" controversy be held in abeyance while researchers sift for evidence.I think I've come to the end of the road with "1754" Powhatan: there was no such person.I presume that most, if not all, of the other 11 existed.If it can be established through contemporary sources that John Bolling fathered eight children who reached adulthood, surely there must be something to substantiate one or more additional adult children IF there were any.Otherwise we might be left with two standards of proof (or preponderance, if you prefer): one high, exacting standard for eight names; and one loose, "benefit of the doubt" standard for 12.
Your suggested approach is very systematic and may produce some answers.I hope the above input on Powhatan at least narrows the scope of your inquiry by one name.