Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tuesday Tips: County Formation Maps

As usual, I’m providing a tip on something I’m sure most of you have at least seen and possibly also used. However, in the slight chance someone hasn’t seen it or has forgotten about this resource, I thought I’d mention one of my favorite tools, the (animated) county formation map.

Most of us have probably had to deal at one time or another with the issue of changing county boundaries. In these cases, the county-level resources we use depend on the dates of residence of our ancestors. For instance, for my Floyd and Finley families in Illinois for the years spanning 1807 to 1860, I need to check both Greene and Jersey County records. One way to find this out can be to check county-specific sites such as Genweb sites, but a quick way to do this when you need to is to bookmark a couple of sites: Historical County Lines and the Family History 101 county formation map site where you can quickly refer to them. And if you are a visually oriented person or just a map geek, the latter site in particular is a lot of fun. The really neat thing is that you can choose the time frame you are interested in, progress through the years at your own rate by clicking, or press “play” for the full automated map show.

Please tell me that I am not the only one who has sat and watched the animated map for all 50 states.


  1. All 50, really? I thought I was a map groupie! :)

  2. Yes - all 50 - I don't know what possessed me, but I felt like I was letting the states compete with one another - who made the most changes, who made the least changes, etc.

  3. Maps? Did someone say MAPS?! Well that's pretty much sucked up all my post-supper "down time" (in a geeky and awesome way!).

    Thanks for this, Greta!

  4. Thanks for the post! I've been working on developing a "widget" geneabloggers could place on their blog or website that would let you select a county (within a state) and see the county formation info including what county it originated from.

  5. Any: Yes, not only do we get to play detective in genealogy, we get to use maps, just like we were looking for a treasure!

    Thomas: I can't wait to see that widget. I want to use it for some of my South Carolina and Texas counties.