Genealogical Puzzle Solved: City Directories

In last month’s issue, I presented a puzzle involving a city directory.[1] It was particularly tough. I won’t pretend otherwise. To put it in New York Times crossword terms, it was definitely a Saturday puzzle, the toughest of the week. If you missed it or forgot some of the details, take a minute to revisit it so the solution makes the most sense.

Here are highlights the key elements of the puzzle:

  • the subject was William Brown (abt. 1763–1827) of New York City
  • he married 27 February 1785 at Trinity Church, New York City, Mary Ball.[2]
  • their children were William, Richard, John, Benjamin Moore, Samuel Provoost, Nathaniel Marston, Eliza, James, and Mary[3]
  • his parents and siblings were unknown
  • his occupation was unknown

Who was William Brown? An exercise with city directories both created an initially unseen problem and, ultimately, solved that problem. What clue in that exercise did I initially miss?

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