If you have been doing genealogy for decades or for only months, you have most likely encountered the problem of shifting political boundaries. In United States research, counties divided, subdivided, and sometimes even dissolved! However, there are some simple ways to keep track of where your people were living in what year.
In places such as Kentucky, the number of counties, and the rate they divided was simply staggering. Keeping track of the correct county records is a job in itself. Here’s my strategy for keeping tabs on county boundary changes:
*Make a running tally of where your ancestors were living during each state or federal census. If your ancestors were in different counties, does this reflect the creation of a new county or did your ancestors actually move?
*Use standard reference books which cite the creation dates for each county. This would certainly include, The Handy Book for Genealogists: United States of America (11th edition, 2006), edited by Holly T. Hansen and Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources (3rdedition, 2004), edited by Alice Eichholz. Other options are to consult
*Make a stick chart showing what counties were created from which parent counties. This visually clues you to when you need to consult records of another county. You may also find the new county was administratively connected to a more established county, but not formed from it. I’m thinking of how western Pennsylvania was created and the new counties administered. All of this affects where you will find records.
Always keep track of what resources you have used to document the “genealogy” of county formations. It’s your guide into what records you need. Don’t be like many of us; make the chart on a scrap piece of paper and then throw it away when you think you’re finished. You will probably need your chart again.
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