Research Mystery — I Need Your Help!

A key part of my examination of John Bingham’s life involves his relationship with Titus Basfield, an African-American college classmate who later became a minister.  In a study of Bingham written twenty years ago, Erving Beauregard claimed that Bingham and Basfield were lifelong friends and corresponded about political and legal issues.  Beauregard also quoted from some of those letters, which contained some interesting insights into Bingham’s thinking about the Fourteenth Amendment.

Here’s the problem–nobody knows where these letters are.  Beauregard (who is deceased) did not make copies of those documents and no other scholar has seen them.  They are cited as belonging to “Lloyd Martin, Portsmouth, Ohio,” but there is no other information.  Some suspect that these sources were fabricated, but I’m going to treat that as a last-resort explanation.  My working assumption is that this collection is privately held and that the trick is to track down what has happened to them and then make sure that they are made available to researchers.

If anyone has any insights about this, I’d be much obliged to hear them.

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7 Responses

  1. Brando Simeo Starkey says:

    He used the same “Loyld Martin collection” for another work using Basfield letters available here: http://victoria.tc.ca/history/reviewed/beauregard.html. So I doubt it’s made up.

    I’d contact Richard L. Aynes since he wrote an article (37 Cath. U.L. Rev. 881) citing the book which cited the material. Maybe he tried to locate it at one point.

    Id also check out this book: http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/library/library.asp?ID=419

    You probably already have though.

    One last thing: There is this thesis: The Pennsylvania State University
    The Graduate School College of the Liberal Arts “AFRICA STRETCHES FORTH HER HANDS UNTO YOU”: FEMALE COLONIZATION SUPPORTERS IN THE ANTEBELLUM UNITED STATES A Thesis in History by Karen Virginia Fisher Younger

    She writes “In 1832 the Xenia session supported a synod
    request for funds to buy the freedom and then support the religious education of Titus
    Basfield, a black slave.” She cites Xenia Associate Presbyterian Session Book, 30 August 1832, GCPL. GCPL stands for Greene County Public Library. http://www.greenelibrary.info/ Basfield is from Ohio so maybe they have his files.

    Good luck with your book!

  2. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Thanks Brando!

  3. Brando Simeo Starkey says:

    http://strattonhouse.com/index.php?section=history&content=franklin_museum

    This was their college. it’s now a museum. I doubt they’d have it but they might be able to help you track it down.

  4. Mary Dudziak says:

    Sounds like some genealogical work is in order. I’d try my best to track down Lloyd Martin, Portsmouth, Ohio, or his heirs. The Portsmouth public library should be able to help you — first with whether Martin is listed in the local phone book (present or past), whether he’s listed in local public records that might show an address, whether there’s a record of his death, and whether there’s an obit in a local paper showing his surviving relatives. Then you follow all the leads, hoping to find a relative. And maybe someone has an old box in the attic that has what you need.

    You might start by trying to track him down on-line (you’ve already done that, I’m sure), but the local public library is often the best place for this sort of research.

    Good luck.

  5. Gerard Magliocca says:

    Excellent idea Mary. This is going to be fun — I’ve never done this kind of shoe-leather research before!

  6. Cynthia (Basfield) Fortune says:

    Mr. Magliocca, I am the Great, great, great granddaughter of Titus Basfield. Any information that you have on my Grandfather, I would love for you to share with me. I had been doing genealogy research and would love any info that you would like to share. I too, would like to read some of those letters. Have a great day.

  7. Donna Seward says:

    Though very late in the game, I came across this today. Another of Beauregard’s references to Titus Basfield’s letters, this time to Robert Hanna in Cadiz, Ohio. You may already have it…but then again, maybe not.