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So you say, “you like maps?”

Well I “LOVE” maps. Maps of all kinds, and use them all the time for genealogical and historical research. I use modern and old ones when ever I can, but some of my favorites are the “Land Ownership Maps,” sometimes referred to as Cadastral. The ones for the United States and for me the important New York State ones that were created were usually done by canvasers that actually walked the roads of each county and measured the distances with a hand held wheel, and stopped to talk to all of the residents. The maps that were created will usually show all of the owners, or resident’s names, with their residences marked as well as various types of businesses, schools, churches and sometimes cemeteries, along each route. These maps were made for commercial purposes and not usually funded by any governmental decree, or at least not that I have found.

The large county wall maps were printed on paper, then individually hand colored with different inks to delineate the various town or other civil boundaries, and then they were usually backed with canvas to allow for rolling them up on a wooden roll like a window blind roll, or so as to allow to be hung on the wall for display and examination. The early series usually start in the 1850′s or so, (with some rare exceptions back into the 18th century,) and were usually published into the early 20th century. The customers for the maps at the time would have been Insurance Companies, Salesmen, Libraries, Local Government Offices, or even individuals.

The next series that you might be even more familiar with are the various individual County Atlases. The counties were also canvased in the same way and individual maps of each town or group of small hamlets or cites would have been printed and hand colored on their own page of the folio sized books. These maps of both types are a wonder to behold and so, so important for genealogical research.

When you view the maps and find your ancestor’s house you will no doubt become excited to see nearby surnames that you have also come across in your research. Remember in this time period there were no roads like we think of them today. Concrete or Asphalt paving is a relatively new industry. The roads in your ancestor’s times were usually dirt trails or paths that were always very dusty in the dry times and soupy with mud and ruts in the wet seasons, and in New York, covered with snow that usually could only be rolled, not plowed, to allow passage by sleigh in the winter. So keep in mind that the men you look for almost NEVER went very far to find a bride!

Well you already know I like the Internet, and now there is one GREAT site that I am so excited about I can hardly contain myself, and that is Historic Map Works.

This is an absolutely fabulous resource! You will be able to search for old maps that cover the locations that your ancestors resided in. You can search by the city or town, or an actual address, or even by GPS co-ordinates, and this will list the maps that thay have that cover your area of interest, (not all are yet included in this database, but they are working on it.) There are several maps that will overlap and many from various time periods. Most of them seem to be from the early to late 19th century, however there are earlier and later ones also available. There are all types of Atlas Maps, Wall Maps, Land Ownership Maps, Nautical Charts, and at the time of this writing they offer over 100,000 maps in full living color and all scanned and digitized for detailed scrutiny. It is not easy to cut and paste, but you might want to purchase a high quailty full size reproduction published with methods to closely represent the antique qualities.

They are also building a collection of digitized City, County and Business DIRECTORIES!
All of their maps and directories collections are growing all the time. If you do not find your exact location at this time, return often because the collection gets added to daily.

This is a subscription service, but the price is very nominal at only $29.99 per year.

I am just becoming familiar with this site and this company but you will be hearing more from me after I get to use it some more.

Ps: if you do decide to subscribe, please tell them Dick Hillenbrand at sent you.

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