Details to Learn about Where Your Ancestors Lived



A really interesting research section to your family history can be centered on the hometown and home county where your ancestors lived. Start by learning the history of the family hometown. A good place would be Googling the town’s name and see what is available, Make notes and place down the sources.

See if there is a historical museum in that town or the county and what photos and history the museum has in that town. You especially will need to know when the town was created and which county it was part of when created. This is where you also investigate the home county, because that could have changed several times over the years because of changing population.

An example in Florida; the town of Stuart along the St. Lucie River was at the northern end of Dade County, Florida for many years in the late 1800s and into the early 20th century. A change came that the county of Palm Beach was created in 1909, which now included the northern end of Dade (plus the town of Stuart). It remained like that for years until that northern section including Stuart broke off from Palm Beach County in 1925 to become Martin County. Knowledge of county names is very important to check court records, land records, probate, voter records, where vital records could be kept, newspaper coverage, etc.  

The keeping of records have usually been done in towns and counties, another reason to know each one’s history. A county might have done marriage records beginning in 1880 but the state for that county didn’t require it until 1900.

See what a county or town genealogical society or historical society might have as far as records, documents, and photos. These societies might hold items not held by a local museum, especially if there is no museum in the county.

Another location is the town or county’s public library – a wealth of information. They may have numerous databases available at their facility or online so you can check anywhere.  

Also, check neighboring counties, even if the town was never part of that county, you just might be surprised what neighbors share, especially photos and newspaper articles.

Photos: Small town 1939; small town 1950 and small-town present-day.

Related FamilyTree Blogs:

Small Town News

County History

County’s Change

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