During the course of your family history research you noted the numerous hometowns where your ancestors lived. They may have resided in a small community, a modest-sized town or large city. You may have the name of the town, but not know which county it was situated in. How about any neighboring communities, are you familiar with those places? More than likely you ancestors knew the surrounding towns and may have even visited those places also.
Using the online site titled “1895 U. S. Atlas” you will be able to view copies of actual Rand McNally Corp. atlas maps original done in 1895 to better pinpoint the ancestral hometowns and the surrounding communities. The site is done by USGenNet.org.
The site is very well organized with a search engine to located a specific location. Or you can use the individual state buttons which provide the state's population as of 1895 and then separate button to click for a whole state map and then individual county maps. There is also an index to the towns and cities in that state as of 1895. This portion will be of help if you do not know which county a town belonged to.
Once a town's name is located in the index, the town's population, name of the county and the regional location of the town in the state are provided. Also if that town had a post office, a railroad and an express office it is listed.
By clicking on the county maps then all the towns (big and small) are marked, along with rivers, lakes, oceans, and portions of other neighboring counties. Keep in mind county boundaries have changed over the last 100 plus years. What is more fascinating is the expansion of regions and counties compared to 1895.
The older established towns in the northeastern states are still fairly the same today. However, if your research takes to places like the central and southern regions of Florida, into Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona there are many changes and new places that didn't exist in 1895.
The exploration of these maps will help provide new insight into the times your ancestors lived and where their hometown existed.