very useful when piecing together your family history. They can help you gain a wider perspective of your
ancestor’s life, community, and environment.
Creating a map and adding important places as you research will help you interpret your findings and identify further avenues of research as you move
back in time when boundaries may have changed and there were fewer records with which to work. Here are five things you may want to include
on your ancestral community map:
You may not know where your
ancestor was born or grew up. Maybe the family did not stay in the same
place. Trace them on the various census records to see
where they were living at different points in time and plot their movements on your map. If county or
parish boundaries changed, use maps from that time period as reference
Often, ancestors migrated to a new area and then worked with others in the community to build a place of worship. Many churches also had
cemeteries located on the same grounds and you may
find your ancestors among either church or cemetery records. Research and plot the churches in the
area as it is possible that your ancestor traveled to
the closest church, synagogue, or place of work to attend services.
While your ancestors may have produced most of
the necessities of everyday life themselves, they may have gone into town for additional supplies. Perhaps your family was even an owner or part owner of the local dry goods store or other places of business.
Plot the closest stores and look for account books to see whether your
ancestors’ names appear on them.
The closest courthouse may have been situated in a
different county from the one in which your ancestors lived. They may have married or conducted
business where it was more convenient for them.
If county or parish boundaries changed, you will need to search both
places to document your forebears. Start by mapping the courthouses nearest to your relatives’ county of residence.
You should be able to identify neighbors
through census records. If any histories
of the local area exist, you might find your ancestors and people who lived in their
community mentioned in those histories. Often, your ancestors married their neighbors and conducted business with one
another. Because of this, you may
find your ancestors’ names recorded in wills, deeds, surveyors’ records, and land disputes, just to mention a few types of archived documents.
What other places would you include on a map of your
Remember that Genealogists.com has over 450 researchers who work in 1,000 archives and repositories around the world. We are here to help you with accessing records wherever your research may take you.
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by Robin Foster © 2014, Genealogists.com. All rights reserved