Did your ancestor move, or did the county line move? https://www.mapofus.org/

+13 votes

One of the most useful tools I've found in a while are the maps at mapsofus.org - you can go state by state and as you click each year that new counties were added you can see the state's county map lines change.

In one case, I had thought my ancestor migrated from Beford County to Lincoln County in the early 1800's.  But I see now that Lincoln County was created from Bedford, my ancestor didn't move, the county did!


1807 Tennessee - note  "Bed" (Bedford County) in the lower middle of the state:

and in 1809:

I hope that many of you will find the site as useful as I have.

in The Tree House by SJ Baty G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
retagged by Ellen Smith
Very cool!

Thanks for sharing this SJ!! :)
You can also check the county history on Wikipedia, which tells when the county was created, and from what.

I love maps! (hence the degree in geography)

This site has the geographic lineage. (Citing sources is important in cartography, shows in the metadata.)

Combines the maps and the history.

That really is neat!!!  My problem is that for my ancestors, it's the country lines that moved and they did it very often - I've seen the same place change countries 5 or 6 times (with 3 or 4 different countries involved) within a 4 year period.
Yep, I love it when someone is born in a county that didn't exist at the time.  And the area they were born in could have been 1 of 5 counties  And lets not even talk about the census that will say they are in a certain location in 1850 and they are 2 years old, but the PMs insist the person was born 1852.
Thank you, SJ and Kay!! These are awesome resources!!

3 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
This drives me batty, changing county lines. Some change with such frequency, like those near where I grew up, one has to look in several counties to find land records, count cases, bastardy bonds, and such.

An ancestor of mine could have in, consecutively, Anson, Mecklenburg, Tryon, Lincoln, and Gaston counties without crossing the creek to milk the cow.
by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.0m points)
selected by SJ Baty
Pip, counties should be a piece of cake - my ancestors could have lived in Poland, Russia, Germany, Austria, Ukraine, or Czechoslavakia while staying in the same house over a period of about 4 or 5 years and siblings in the same family who lived in the same house all that time could have been born in any of those countries, with any of all the languages spoken in those countries plus Hebrew and Yiddish as the language of their records.  In addition, their LNABs vary - sometimes father's LNAB but other times mother's when whichever country was in charge did not recognize marriages of Jews.  A few times, I've also seen the LNAB of father's mother because father's parents marriage wasn't recognized.

EDITED:  oops, I forgot to mention Hungary and Romania

EDITED AGAIN: and we can't forget Galicia, too
I think I’d lose my mind over that! I have a hard enough time with North Carolina counties, much less the scenario you described above.
I guess that gives me a good excuse, huh?

I’ll give you that... and more! yes

Drives me Baty!
We don't have to leave the USA for the countries changing issue.  My family in Southern Colorado over a very short period of time went from Spain, to Mexico, then to USA.  We can't ignore the indigenous people who were here way before and through all of that.  Then the states (cultures, families, land ownership) started being divided up.  The history part of the research in genealogy is absolutely half the fun of connecting the puzzle pieces.
Gaille, my daughter's inlaws came from that region also.  She found out some stuff and decided he was exiled/or became a refugee because he fought against the Tsar.  Yeah, kiddo, have you ever heard of a rebellion against an invading country? If it wasn't Russia, it was Germany.  And she still doesn't understand.
Me too, my Grandmother was born in North Dakota but later had to immigrate into the USA because of what ever - lived right on border - actually the border was not there but my family was, then the border came and then I think moved once too
+5 votes

Thanks SJ for sharing the map and bringing this up.  The same holds true for Botetourt County Virginia which parts of became eastern KY.  My ancestors didn't move but census records lead me to believe they did.

by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (190k points)
+4 votes
I've had a book , Handbook for Genealogists,since 1991 that does that same thing.  Every State and every county, when it was formed and the parent counties. Also includes where birth, death and other vital records are stored for that County.

BTY, Bedford was created in 1807 from Rutherford, so it is possible your ancestors might have lived in Rutherford before 1807 . Rutherford formed in 1803 from Davidson County,
by Sandra Vines G2G6 Mach 4 (48.6k points)
I need that book - we all might!  Not only do we need to research when and where our ancestors did this or that, the places themselves did not hold still either
Used to be readily available. I have one. check used book stores or online.

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