Maps arevery useful when piecing together your family history. They can help you gain a wider perspective of yourancestor’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 moveback in time when boundaries may have changed and there were fewer records with which to work. Here are five things you may want to includeon your ancestral community map:
You may not know where yourancestor was born or grew up. Maybe the family did not stay in the sameplace. Trace them on the various census records to seewhere they were living at different points in time and plot their movements on your map. If county orparish boundaries changed, use maps from that time period as referencepoints.
Often, ancestors migrated to a new area and then worked with others in the community to build a place of worship. Many churches also hadcemeteries located on the same grounds and you mayfind your ancestors among either church or cemetery records. Research and plot the churches in thearea as it is possible that your ancestor traveled tothe closest church, synagogue, or place of work to attend services.
While your ancestors may have produced most ofthe 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 yourancestors' names appear on them.
The closest courthouse may have been situated in adifferent county from the one in which your ancestors lived. They may have married or conductedbusiness where it was more convenient for them. If county or parish boundaries changed, you will need to search bothplaces to document your forebears. Start by mapping the courthouses nearest to your relatives' county of residence.
You should be able to identify neighborsthrough census records. If any historiesof the local area exist, you might find your ancestors and people who lived in theircommunity mentioned in those histories. Often, your ancestors married their neighbors and conducted business with oneanother. Because of this, you mayfind 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 yourancestor’s community?
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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