Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Its All About Geography, 'Tain't Genealogy Without It

Copyright 2010, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

OK, it is ALL about genealogy, but, it is not gonna be about ANYTHING at all without the geography.  I proved that again last week while researching at the Allen County Public Library.

I was working on a line that comes out of the Frederick County Maryland area.  I had some hints from a pretty good researcher that led me to that area.  I was hoping to take the line back a bit further, even though deep in my heart I suspected I would not be able to.  One reason: as much as I love ACPL, they don't have everything one could desire for every geographic area.  Some locations are better represented than others.  That is a simple fact.  We all know that to get down and dirty about the research you really need to travel to the area, at least get in the state library or archives. Better yet, get in the county courthouse and the local libraries.  But, you have what you have and you work with what you have, so, I dug around in the books and microfilm looking for any hint on these families from Frederick County Maryland.

See, I was digging in Frederick County Maryland resources.  That is the only county name the other researcher gave me.   However, lets look at the changes in the counties of the area due to splitting, etc..

From Wikipedia:  Frederick County was created in 1748 from parts of Prince George's County and Baltimore County.

In 1776, Frederick County was divided into three parts. The westernmost portion became Washington County, named after George Washington, the easternmost portion became Montgomery County, named after another Revolutionary War general, Richard Montgomery. The central portion remained Frederick County.

OKKKK, so, because I was looking in really early records, it seems that maybe I should consider Washington or Montgomery counties.  So, I did, and along the way, I discovered that Allegany County was formed from Washington County in 1789.

OKKKK, so, lets put this in a line by line chart format:

Prince George's & Baltimore Counties

1748 Frederick County cut from the 2 above.

1776 Washington cut from Frederick

1789 Allegany cut from Washington. 

Click on map for a larger view,
click your back button to return to Reflections.
Map courtesy of Digital-Topo-Maps.com

So, after several hours of hunting on this Frederick County family, I discovered records in Frederick, Washington AND Allegany county sources at ACPL.  From the looks of the dates and records, the family did NOT move, they were living in what BECAME Allegany County years after they arrived in Frederick County. (Whew!)

Lesson re-learned for Carol, geography COUNTS!  Might be best to review it before visiting the library.  (I know you hear me sighing!)
Request of other researchers, recorders of data.  If an event is recorded in Frederick County, please record it that way, but, if the event is recorded in Allegany County, record it in your notes and data base as ALLEGANY, not Frederick.  Save me from myself, save me some time, at least give me the right county name to snoop in if I decide to go trying to verify and/or find original documents.  (Hear more sighing?? Ya, I know you do.)


Barbara Poole said...

Carol, this is a wonderful example of county change and renaming. A great genealogy geography 101 lesson for all.

PalmsRV said...


Lots of old deeds and deed indexes for Maryland here: http://mdlandrec.net

It's been a while, but I've found some of my husband's Allegany County people in the records there.