Especially when researching the 1700's and earlier, understanding the lay of the land and seeing the "bigger picture can give many useful insights. State census maps and county formation maps for the period and area you are researching can help you narrow down the counties and towns you need to be looking and open up some new possibilities.
If you build a complete vital records or census index with the name variations you are working with and sort it alphabetically, you can compare the forenames, paying close attention to locations dates and ages and come up with some very interesting results.
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