Category Archives: Other

Online U.S. Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

(The article below is from Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter. Credits are given at the end of the piece.)

One of the more useful tools for genealogists is the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries created by the Newberry Library in Chicago. When I first started in genealogy, one of my biggest frustrations was trying to find records of ancestors in the county where they lived. Many genealogical records are created by counties. In many cases, I knew the town where they lived and I also knew what county the town was in. Yet I couldn’t find the records that normally are kept in county courthouses, such as probate records or the deeds of land transfers.

As I gained more experience, I soon learned that the problem was mine. I had looked in the country records for the county lines of today. In many cases, the county lines had moved over the years, even though my ancestors had not moved an inch. Once recorded at the county courthouse, records normally remain at that courthouse forever, even if the county lines are redrawn later and the property or the town in question is then “moved” to a different county.

For instance, if your ancestor lived in the town of Smallville in Washington County when the information was recorded at the courthouse and later the county lines were redrawn so that town of Smallville and your ancestor’s location were later in Lincoln County, you still need to look for older records in the Washington County courthouse. Existing courthouse records usually are not moved to a new courthouse when county lines are redrawn.

Experienced genealogists all know that you need to look in the county courthouse for the correct county as of the date the records were filed. But how do you find the correct county lines as of the date(s) your ancestors lived there and left records? You can find several books at well-equipped libraries that will provide that information. However, the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries will provide the information as well without requiring the time and travel expenses of visiting a well-equipped library. Yes, you can find the information without leaving home. The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries web site is available FREE of charge. You can even download the files to your own computer and save them or use them as you please. The online atlas has been available for years but I find that many genealogists are unaware of its existence and do not know how useful it can be.

With the Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, you can view records on a per state basis, an interactive map, or choose the time slots that best meet your requirements. You can search by location or by time or by both. To use the web site for the first time, select a state from the map on the site’s home page to view all of the Atlas’ content related to that state, including shapefiles, chronologies, and metadata. If you cannot quickly find the information you seek, narrow the search by choosing from the available list of options. Probably the most useful option for genealogists is to display maps by dates.

A lot of helpful information about the site can be found on the “Using the Atlas” page at: http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/usingatlas.html

This is a web site worth bookmarking. You probably won’t need to use it often but, if you do ever have a need, it can supply the information you seek quickly.

The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries is available at the Newberry Library’s web site at: http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/


Randy Majors left this comment to the above blog posting:

Your readers may also find this free tool I built based on the excellent Newberry source in your article: https://www.randymajors.com/p/maps.html

Simply type a PRESENT-DAY address, city or place, then type any HISTORICAL date, and the historical county boundaries from that date will appear overlaid on a familiar Google Map (including satellite view). Then optionally overlay research locations on the map such as courthouses, cemeteries, churches, and libraries, and link right to them for more information. It also displays the statute that formed the boundary, and optionally animate the change in boundaries over time for that location. Over 60,000 visits to this tool I think largely due to its simple usability.


The above article and comment are from and are copyrighted by the Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter at www.eogn.com. Many thanks go to Dick Eastman for his continued support of the genealogy world.


As a reminder, the best PC program ever that shows county boundaries over time has been AniMap. It is still for sale as version AniMap 3.0.2 at the GoldBug Software web site: https://goldbug.com/animap/
And remember, the Monterey FHC has a copy of AniMap that can be used inside the FHC.

But, for sure, the above ONLINE and FREE options can be used at home, now, as we need.


Membership Renewal Time

Spring is coming and this is the time of year when we remind everyone that your MoCoGenSo membership will be expiring, and it is time to renew. The dues for both Membership and Electronic-Newsletter are $20.00 for individuals and $25.00 for families (add $7.50 to also receive a paper copy).

An important way to learn more about your ancestors and their lives is to join a genealogy society that focuses on the area in which your ancestors lived. Genealogy societies conduct research and preserve information about a specific area, and most publish some sort of newsletter, journal, or other periodical. The articles offer insight into the area and the people, and can provide help in conducting your research in an area. There are genealogy societies at the national, state, county, parish, province, and other levels. Annual membership fees are reasonable and the benefits are considerable.

The Monterey County Genealogy Society is one of these organizations right here in your own back yard. It serves its members in many ways. The board of directors is made up of members just like you.

Remember our society is only as strong as our membership, and those who get involved.

OUR MEMBERSHIP YEAR RUNS FROM APRIL 1 TO MARCH 31 OF THE FOLLOWING YEAR. For renewing members, you can renew using the membership form in your recently received newsletter.  New (or renewing) members can download and print a PDF copy of the Membership Application by clicking here.  There will always be copies of this form at our monthly meetings.

Join me by staying with MoCoGenSo and getting the E-Newsletter.

Thank you for being a supporter!

DNA Meeting handout available for download.

Barabara Rae-Venter, our DNA Sig leader, has had a busy week. She was the lecturer at the MoCoGenSo monthly meeting last Thursday evening and today at the annual DAR Ancestor Roundup, she taught two sessions. And she will be leading our DNA Sig next Saturday too!

She passed out a sheet Thursday evening that had various pointers, web sites, programs name, etc.. She has graciously agreed to let us post the document here for you to download. The links in the PDF file are live.

The programs mentioned in the advanced DNA meeting at the Ancestor Roundup are included in this file.

To download the file, CLICK HERE.

This file will be made a permanent fixture here later, in our Meetings page.

“The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

DNA SIG meeting Saturday October 14 10:00 am

This is a reminder about the MoCoGenSo DNA SIG meeting on Saturday October 14, 2017 at 10 am at the Family History Center in Seaside. The Meeting will be in the room across the hall from the FHC office.

Schedule for DNA SIG Meeting:

10:00 to 10:15 Discussion future meeting topics of interest – volunteer for future presentations

10:15 to 11:00 Question and Answers:
Each person bring one topic or question to review.

We will focus on each topic for 5 minutes.

After everyone has had an opportunity to ask their question, we will return to topics for further discussion.

11:00 to 11:30 Discussion

Next Meeting: 9 December 2017


“Genealogy is sometimes about proving that bad family traits came from the other side of the tree!”


FHC has new hours

The Monterey FHC has made a minor change in it’s hours.

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays the FHC is now open from 9:00 am to 7:30 pm. You can come straight from work to the FHC, do some research and still get home for dinner! Hours on other days remain the same as before.

Remember, they have 11 free subscription sites available. These are accounts that would cost you money at home are free inside the FHC.

See FHC Page for more information and location.

Monterey County Fair 2017

The Monterey County Fair is being held this year August 31 through September 4th. You can find out more details at their own web site here montereycountyfair.com/.

The Adult Home Arts division is including a section for Genealogy! You can win a ribbon just by displaying your family tree! Or old letters or pictures or whatever. See various Classifications here.  Each entry will cost $1.00.   (note – clicking on the image will make it larger, perhaps easier to read)

The dates you need to worry about are:

July 31 – Entry Form due at their office (mail or online)
August 19, 26, 27, 28 – Exhibits turned in
September 5 – Exhibits returned

The Entry Rules are here: Entry Rules

A PDF copy of the Entry Form can be found here: Entry Form

There are some copies of the full County Fair guide in the Family History Center or you can reach a PDF version here: Guide Book.


I hope someone from MoCoGenSo wins all the Blue Ribbons. Bring them to our next meeting to show us! 🙂


“When I was researching the County Fair processes, I discovered that they are holding the Scottish Games & Celtic Festival at the Fairgrounds August 5 & 6! Some of us have traced our ancestors back into Scotland and might get a kick out of seeing clan memorabilia and listening to the old Celtic music. Besides, some of those guys look cute in their kilts. 🙂 My surname trails into Kelso, Scotland. I have just tested the Big-Y test trying to determine if I got there from Norway or Denmark.


RootsMagic releases Ancestry features!!

According to the dictionary, SURPRISE means “an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing”. Well, this week has been full of surprising things. Today, for example, we learned that RootsMagic has finally released the update that connects RM to Ancestry!

This is great news to me as I am in the process of switching from The Master Genealogist software to RootsMagic and have made more updates in the Ancestry tree that I have in TMG. I need to be able to blend the two trees without losing anything or anybody!

The “TreeShare for Ancestry” option allows you to upload a tree from RM to Ancestry or download from Ancestry to RM. You can also keep the two trees synchronized, keep them matching. When you upload or download trees, they include pictures as well as sources, notes and other expected items.

The other new option they have added is called “Ancestry Hints Integration“. This basically allows you to work with all those wonderful Ancestry Hints from inside of RootsMagic. If you accept a hint, it will also update your synchronized RM tree!

The upgrade is free to anyone with version 7.x. When you apply the upgrade, you are offered a chance to win a prize. Go for it.

If you have been setting on the sidelines about RootsMagic or Ancestry, perhaps watching a video that shows how the new system in RootsMagic works will help you decide. And if you already have RootsMagic and want a quick tutorial on how to use these new options, you should watch this. Trust me, it is worth it. Do note, it is 36 minutes long, and uses voice and video. https://youtu.be/oDOlq7EFIWA

I’m off to do some serious tree matching and merging now. 🙂


“If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.” – Clint Eastwood