Historical U.S. county boundary maps

As I researched my Revolutionary-era ancestors through multiple Pennsylvania counties, I thought they kept migrating west. From Lancaster County to Cumberland County to Bedford County to Westmoreland County. Turns out the county boundary lines moved more often than my ancestors.

An easy way to compare past and present locations is to use www.randymajors.com, which was cited among FamilyTreeMagazine’s “Top 101 Best Websites for Genealogy in 2016.”

Sure enough, when I input a location and date in the “Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps” feature, I learned exactly when the county boundaries changed. For example, when I entered “Stahslville, PA,” – coincidentally named after my 4X great-grandfather – and checked the block “Show the complete county change chronology…”, all the county names and effective dates going back to 1681 scrolled up for my review. The map feature is amusing for time-travel but more importantly, it enables you to know which county courthouse has the record you seek.

Majors’ website has a number of other intriguing tools. “Ancestor-Search using Google Custom Search” looks promising as a time-saver. Be sure to read his quick tips for using it. And if you like a genealogical mystery, read his story about the man who wasn’t John Charles Brown. Fascinating!

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