This week Ancestry posted a database of U.S. County Land Ownership Atlases, c. 1864-1918 and today I had a little time to explore it.
I located an atlas for Carbon County, Pennsylvania, where my mother-in-law’s family hails from and in it was able to locate a township map for Lower Towamensing Township, that listed many ofÂ her family names. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) Although I knew this branch of his family was almost exclusively in this area, it was neat to see the proximity of the families, where schools and store were, etc.
I took things a step further and plugged Lower Towamensing into Google maps. Using features that were found on both maps (e.g., Jonesville and Little Gap), I was able to determine approximatelyÂ where his ancestors lived on the Google map. Using the satellite view, I could see what the terrain was like.
You can browse the collection by state using the links at the bottom of the database page, or search by state, county, town or keyword. A few suggestions:
- Either browse down by state or start your search wide by only selecting a state so you can see what’s available in the area and how the title is listed.
- Know county boundaries for the time period in which the map was created.
- Browse through the entire atlas. There are typically maps available with different scales (e.g. county wide, township only, etc.) and you may find that a combination of several different maps gives you the best view.
- Be sure to get both sides of the page. Most atlases I’ve seen here have the map split between the two pages, so check either the page before, or the page after to see the whole picture.
- Look for a table of contents to guide you. With the Carbon County book, I saw in the table of contentsÂ (imageÂ 2 of 52)Â that Lower Towamensing was on “pages 74 and 75.” Although the pages of the book and the image numbers don’t correspond, since this was one of the highest page numbers listed in the TOC, I skipped to the last image and worked my way backward. The Lower Towamensing images were on images 46 and 47 so this was a time-saver.
Hope you enjoy these maps as much as I did!