Map of US

Once you get beyond the 1850s in your genealogical research (and often before you get that far back), you need a dynamic map of the state in which you’re attempting to locate ancestors in the records. New counties were constantly being formed, boundaries were constantly being redrawn, and often we wonder if our ancestors moved. Again.

No. Not in every situation. Often, they were still in the same spot, land, family, farm animals, and all, living in the newly formed county. Sometimes they did move, though. I have found that my ancestors moved about every twenty years, give or take. They’d farm the heck out of the land then head for greener pastures.

Nevertheless, I found this website to be invaluable in my research:

Check it out. Once you’ve determined the vicinity in which your ancestor(s) lived, find it on the map for that year, then progress through future changes to that specific area, i.e. county boundaries.

Also exciting is finding your ancestor’s signature on a petition to form the new county. This is true of the McGraw brothers/uncles/cousins living in Nicholas County, VA prior to 1831, petitioning for the formation of Fayette County. There is – or was – a copy of this document hanging on the wall at Contentment Museum (McVey house) at Ansted, WV. There may be a copy at the Cultural Center in Charleston, WV but the original is housed at the Library of Virginia.

Have a nice trip.

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