I Love Maps!
My parents taught me how to read a road map when I was young. They would let me tell them where our next turn was on trips to my grandparents, a road they both knew very well. It was a good way to learn because I couldn't get us lost, since they knew how to get there without a map.
I love all kinds of maps--antique maps, road maps, topographic maps, informational maps and on and on...
I use them in my research and they are helpful. One of my favorite set of maps are the maps available at the Bureau of Land Management, which you can read about in "Land Records You May Have Missed."
Robert Benjamin Ross, Jr. and Sarah Caroline Derrick
If you have been studying your family history you know that our ancestors moved a lot. Or at least mine did. So it is no surprise that two people born in different counties could meet and marry. But in this case, there were a couple of facts that looking at maps helped me solve quickly.
According to the Robert's family Bible, he and Sarah were married in Benton Co,
. So two questions arose: Arkansas
1. Since Sarah was most likely born in Benton Co,2. How did these two meet and marry?
, was the Bible in error? Missouri
Initially my mother and I thought there might be an error in the recording of the marriage. We thought it was a little odd that Sarah was born in and married in counties with the same name, but in different states.
|1879 Arkansas-Missouri Border|
is in central Missouri , while McDonald Co, Missouri is in the Southwest corner of the state, bordering both Missouri and Oklahoma . The county in Arkansas that borders McDonald Co, Arkansas is Benton Co, Missouri . Arkansas
|McDonald Co, Missouri |
This map information led me to review the 1860 and 1870 censuses to determine exactly how the two families migrated, if they did and when. It also provided me with the communities that they lived in or lived closest to.
Robert's family was in the same community from 1850 through to 1870. Sarah's family can be found in the Benton Co,
But how did they meet? Even though they lived in neighboring counties and young men did leave home in search of adventure, I was curious. While they married in Benton Co,
in February 1870, in June 1870, they are living with Robert's parents in McDonald Co, Arkansas . Missouri
Again the maps answered my question. Robert's family lived near Buffalo Creek and
What I Learned
I learned that maps can help me see the relationships between different locations where my ancestors lived. This can help me sort out a family puzzle.
I learned that I need to use maps as close to the time period I am researching as I can.
I learned that I should keep an open mind about what my facts tell me about the family.
I learned that county names are frequently repeated across many states. My sister-in-law contends that almost every state has a
. Therefore, I need to be clear about what state the county is in. Washington County
I learned that maps can be incredibly helpful in my research.
I learned that my parents gave me a great gift when they taught me how to read a map.
Share your experiences in using maps to help you with your research.
Author of Genealogy Cheat Sheets