Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Using FamilyHistory101.com Maps

Ben Sayer tipped me on Saturday to the presence of County Formation Maps on the http://www.familyhistory101.com/ web site. These County Formation Maps use the Animap system (by permission of Goldbug, the Animap providers) and are probably the best online resource for finding how states and counties developed over the years from colonial to modern times.

Here are some screens for the County Formation Maps on the site. On the home page, there is a dropdown menu when you run your mouse over the "Maps" link (options are Census Maps, County Formation Maps and Antique Maps and Atlases):

Clicking on the "County Formation Maps" link, a list of states comes up (two screens, no overlap):

The page says:

"Links to rotating animated maps showing all the county boundary changes for each year overlayed with past and present maps so you can see the changes in county boundaries and State Department of Transportation Maps. See My Census Maps and Genealogy Atlas (Maps made with the use AniMap Plus County Boundary Historical Atlas v. 2.5 (Win)"

I wanted to look at the development of Pennsylvania counties over the years, so I clicked on the "Pennsylvania 1673-present" link on the page (two screens, no overlap):

The starting point for Pennsylvania is 1673 and it shows the earliest Dutch Delaware Settlement areas. Below the map are 98 links for years that Pennsylvania county boundaries changed. Below these links are the abbreviations for all of the counties of Pennsylvania.

The user can use the "Next" or "Prev" buttons below the map to advance map-by-map or can use the "Play," "Stop," or "View" buttons to see the county boundaries play in sequence.

Here is the map for 1772. The changes from the previous map are summarized in a small text area above the map. In this case, the change from 1771 is:

"Northumberland from Cumberland, Bedford
Lancaster, Berks, Northampton, non-county area
Bedford gained from Cumberland"

The next map, for 1773, says:

"Westmoreland from Bedford
Virginia creates West Augusta District
part of which is in southwestern Pennsylvania area"

The user can continue through to see the formation of all of the present Pennsylvania counties.

This is a tremendous resource - valuable to historian and genealogist alike. The major value to the genealogist is that s/he can determine which county may hold records for a given location over time. My Carringer and Hoax families were in Westmoreland county in 1785, which was in Bedford County before 1773, and in Cumberland County before 1771, and unorganized before 1750.

A wise researcher will check out the Census Maps and Antique Maps and Atlases pages too.

1 comment:

Robyn Smith said...

I absolutely love this website and often use it in my research. I am always trying to tell others about it too. Thanks so much for recommending the post I did on NGS 2009...I appreciate the love;) Stop by anytime.....