How to Find the Records You Want

Your early-settler ancestor may have lived in several different counties even if he didn’t move an inch. Here’s how to figure out those shifting county boundaries and tell which county has the genealogy records you need.

As the population increased in the places your ancestors settled, counties were often subdivided, renamed and rearranged—potentially wreaking havoc with your knowledge of where to look for records.

Records generally stayed in the county where they were created. Let’s say your ancestor’s land purchase in Washington County is registered at the courthouse in the county seat of Springfield. Two years later, Washington County is carved up into three smaller counties. Your ancestor’s new county is Jefferson County, with Pleasantville as the county seat. The deed for his land purchase will remain in the courthouse in Springfield. If he sells the land, though, the transaction will be recorded in Pleasantville.

That’s why it’s important to know the history of county boundaries when researching early settlers. Before you launch a record search, find out what county or other entity had jurisdiction at the time the record was created. For easy reference, make a timeline of boundary changes affecting your ancestor’s place of residence during his lifetime, noting county names and county seats.

In the Unpuzzling County Boundaries webinar, learn about the best resources for pinpointing which county holds the records you want.

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UnpuzzCountyBoundChanges200x200logoUnderstand County Boundary Changes

Don’t Miss the Vital Steps in This Live Presentation!
Date: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013
Presenter: David A. Fryxell
Duration: 60 minutes
Price: Price: $49.99 ($39.99 early bird until 10/10)

As the population proliferated in places your ancestors settled, counties were often cut into a collection of confusing and chaotic pieces: subdivided, renamed and rearranged—potentially wreaking havoc on your knowledge of where to look for records. Early-settler ancestors may have lived in several different counties without ever having moved an inch. This presentation will help you figure out those shifting county boundaries and how to tell which county has the genealogy records you’re searching for.

Learn more here >

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