Check Out Our Genealogy Blog »

Your Family Name As A Geographical Location

Global MapThere are some interesting services offered by the United States Federal government for those interested in their family history. One branch is the U. S. Geographic Services with their Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). With 2.1 million geographic names in their database, nearly the full spectrum across the United States and US territories are covered.

Their free site opens up a way the family historian can possibility locate an actual place named for an ancestor or at the very least shares the family surname. What kind of places are listed? Well, just about every imaginable geographic location is in the database.

The most common are cities, towns, villages and neighborhoods all populated communities today. Then there are man-made locations such as airports, schools, bridges, canals, buildings, churches, hospitals, post offices, tunnels, dams, military bases, cemeteries, parks, to name a few. Many natural locations have been named for individuals and would include valleys, rivers, bays, lakes, forests, beaches, islands, glaciers, capes, hills, craters, mountains, etc.

On the site the search box is called the ‘query’. Just place a single surname under ‘feature name’ and if desired, select a state and county (the family home state). Click ‘send query’ and a list appears of all the populated locations, man-made structures and natural places which have the featured name. Try the search also without placing a specific state or county and then see the wide range of places with that family name.

Some of the information learned are what the geographical location is, meaning the definition is provided for a stream, arroyo, cape, gut or pillar. Then listed are any other variations in the name for that location. The county, and state along with the exact latitude and longitude is provided. A selection of different maps (drawn, aerial, terrain, satellite) on the Internet are listed allowing you to view the place in numerous ways.

One other interesting feature is the term ‘historical’ listed with a location. If that is written, it means the named location no longer exists. The building was destroyed or the stream dried up.

Lastly, on the site is a very unusual item, a separate database of the names of locations at the Antarctica. For example the surname ‘McDonald’ had ten different islands, ridges or glaciers named McDonald on the Antarctica. The name ‘Johnson’ has 17 bays, gaps and summits at the southern end of the world.

< Return To Blog ireally need to find any information i can about my family tree.
Larry Mink 27/03/11

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.