Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - Historical County Boundaries

Hey Genea-philes, have you recovered from your tryptophan coma on Thursday?  Wake up - it's SATURDAY NIGHT!  Time for more GENEALOGY FUN!

Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  Go to the Historical U.S. County Maps page on Randy Majors website ( ) .Read the whole page for tips on how to use the tool by entering a current geographical place in the United States and a year (from the drop down list) at the top of the page.

2)  Pick one place of interest and enter the name of the place (a current town/city or county) and choose a year from the dropdown list.  Use the Back < and Forward > arrow links to move forward or backward in time.

3)  Note the Historical jurisdiction for the place you selected for each year.  Write down the list from 1790 to 1900.

4)  Post the place you selected and the historical jurisdictions for that place in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Facebook Status or google Plus Stream post.

5) Think about  the jurisdictions that came up - have you looked in those jurisdictions for information about your ancestral families that were in that place?

Here's mine:

I chose Mercer, Pennsylvania.  It is currently in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, but the jurisdictions it was in from 1790 to 1900 were:

1790:  Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
1800:  Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
1810:  Mercer County, Pennsylvania (Mercer County was formed before 1810)
1820:  Mercer County, Pennsylvania
1830:  Mercer County, Pennsylvania
1840:  Mercer County, Pennsylvania
1850:  Mercer County, Pennsylvania (Lawrence County was formed in 1848, taking the southern part of Mercer County)
1860:  Mercer County, Pennsylvania
1870:  Mercer County, Pennsylvania
1880:  Mercer County, Pennsylvania
1890:  Mercer County, Pennsylvania
1900:   Mercer County, Pennsylvania

If I want to find land records for my Carringer, Spangler, and Feather ancestors before 1810, I think I'd better look in Allegheny County for the records!

Wasn't that FUN?


Unknown said...

Mine isn't worth a blog: I picked my father's home town, North Manchester, Indiana.
In 1829 it was Chester, NCA12*, Indiana, USA
From 1840 through 2000 it was North Manchester, Chester Twp, Wabash County, Indiana, USA. This one of my ancestral counties stayed put.

*NCA12 means Non-County Area 12.

Jean said...

I did a slight variation, starting before 1790, for Cynthiana, Kentucky. My blog post is

Liz said...

That is a great tool, Randy! Thanks for sharing it. Here's a link to my post:

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

I decided to see how it handled a place in Texas

1900-1850 - Maxwell, Caldwell, Texas, USA
1846 - Maxwell, Gonzales, Texas, USA
1845 - Texas becomes part of the US
1844 - Maxwell, Gonzales, Texas, USA (oops)
1837 - Maxwell, Gonzales, Texas, USA
1836 - Texas declares independence from Mexico
1833 - Maxwell, Gonzales, Texas, USA
1832 - Maxwell, Mexico, Texas, USA (double oops)

So even ignoring its insistence on putting every geographical location within the USA, it seems to have the wrong year for the independence of Texas from Mexico.

It does still capture the county boundary change from Gonzales to Caldwell.

Elizabeth Handler said...

This was an interesting way to see the development of a state that became a state in 1818. See From Maine to Kentucky ~ Historical County Boundaries.

Cinamon Collins said...

This was a great project! Thanks for putting it up. My blog post is:

Catherine Pendleton said...

This was fun! Thanks for sharing the historical county boundary website. It was so much easier having it all on one website. Looking forward to looking up more places of interest. Here's my post:

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