(g) The stand-alone documents
How can I be sure that a Philip Long who appeared on a census or on a birth certificate in Pennsylvania is or is not about my ancestor? There were other individuals by the same name in Pennsylvania and in other States during that period. The information gathered on each one of them shows that they all stayed in the USA after 1783.
My research in Pennsylvania has uncovered some more candidates, but not one seems to fit my ancestor’s profile. The bulk of Loyalists was in New York rather than in Pennsylvania. Many Longs participated in the ARW, but on the Colonials’ side, with the Patriots.
The main difficulty for us on this side of the Atlantic is the fact that it took more than a century to build up a system of recording basic statistics about the population. If your ancestor immigrated to America during the 18th century, you will be lucky if you find his name on a passenger list (most of them were destroyed) or on a primary census done every seven years in a few States. For many descendants of these immigrants, a DNA test is, nowadays, the only way to « guess » where your ancestor lived before they immigrated to America. The lack of written information has rendered DNA testing immensely popular.