Fun With Geography! U.S. County Land Ownership Atlases, c. 1864-1918

Lower Towamensing Township, Carbon County, Pennsylvania, 1875This 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 of 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 approximately 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 contents (image 2 of 52) 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!


7 thoughts on “Fun With Geography! U.S. County Land Ownership Atlases, c. 1864-1918

  1. Teena, by going through this link to Ancestry, it loses your login information. If you notice at the upper right hand corner it is looking for you to log in with your username and password. I had the same purchase option window pop up, too, but once I logged in, it brought me right to the image I was looking for.

  2. Are you aware only one page is scanned for the 1875 Venango, Co, PA Atlas?

    I think this is a wonderfull addition, and look forward to exploring the other states.

  3. Why is the only access to this collection through the states; why are the atlases not accessible though the map collection under “Photos & Maps”?

  4. This is a great resource!
    I’m trying to locate it so I can use it in the future; I want to remember how access it without the full title, which I will always mess up. So I’ve been trying through the Card Catalog, then Directories. I don’t find it if I browse through the whole 5 pages of titles under Directories and Memberships, I don’t find it if I put US Land Ownership(not the exact title but close)… What is the best way to remember to get to this without having to remember the exact title? Someday I’ll have to delete the emails with the link on them. 🙂

  5. Marie,
    You can access this database through the Maps and Photos section. Go to the Search tab and from the navigation bar on the right side of the page, select Photos and Maps. (It’s towards the bottom of the page.) You’ll see it listed in the list on the lower left bottom of the page.


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