When I was a kid, we made an annual summer trek across the country in the family station wagon to visit family. My dad would order his AAA maps for each trip and they would come with our route neatly highlighted in marker. To pass the time I liked to follow our progress, but after the bazillionth â€œWhere are we now Dad?â€ he figured it was time to come up with some way to keep me busy. He saved the maps from previous trips so I could happily track our progress on my own map. I guess thatâ€™s where my love of maps began.
At genealogical conferences, my first shopping stop is the closest booth that has historical maps. Another favorite pastime of mine is to browse huge collections of historical maps online. Ancestry.com recently updated its Historic Land Ownership and Reference Atlases, 1507-2000.Â I had a little time to kill last night, so I thought I would take a look at what was available.
A neat find was a map of Rush Run, Ohio from 1871. (Click on the image to enlarge it.) My grandfather was born there in 1906 and even though the map was from thirty years prior, it was still really interesting. I had never realized the town was actually on the banks of the Ohio River. Mapquest makes it appear a bit further from the river. It also noted coal veins in the area, which is very relevant to my family history because my great-grandparentsâ€™ families were miners and they ran the mining store.Â
The Cleveland and & Pittsburgh Railroad line is shown with a stop in Rush Run. Since my great-grandparents moved back and forth to and from Cleveland and the southeastern Ohio area around Rush Run, I imagine that could have been a convenient way to get back and forth. For many trains were the easiest way to travel, so pay close attention to the railroads in the areas in which your ancestor lived.
The maps are really detailed and if you find one for a place in which your ancestor lived, you may find his name on the map as the property owner. This particular map showed the location of the coal mine shaft and the coke ovens too.Â
Finding the Map
You can search the database by keyword, which Iâ€™ve found to be more effective than searching by location, or you can browse by state, which is what I prefer to do. Some of the maps are listed by county, while others may focus on only a city. I found quite a few â€œbirdâ€™s eye viewsâ€ as I explored the collection.
When you scroll down past the search box to the browsable links, youâ€™ll notice that there are also several Canadian provinces listed among the states. I found a really neat map of Quebec from 1764.
Another link is to Other Maps and here I found among others a map of Dublin from 1895.
If you havenâ€™t checked this collection in a while, give it another look.Â And while youâ€™re at it, the U.S. County Land Ownership Atlases, c. 1864-1918 is very similar and has maps from states not included in former.Â .
Juliana Smith has been an editor of Ancestry newsletters for ten years and is author of “The Ancestry Family Historian’s Address Book.” She has written for “Ancestry” magazine and wrote the Computers and Technology chapter in “The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy,” rev. 3rd edition. Juliana can be reached by e- mail at Juliana@Ancestry.com, but she regrets that her schedule does not allow her to assist with personal research.