A Moment in Time - 1850

Look at the year 1850 in the United States, a young nation; no American Civil War yet, the Gold Rush just began, many of our ancestors were starting to move further west to the Great Plains in the covered wagons, the Industrial Revolution was just getting started, travel on the rivers was by steamboats and there was approximately 23.2 million people living across the country. It is a good chance somewhere on your family trees your ancestors lived in America in 1850.

There is a great online site with a concentrated overview of America back some 162 years ago. It is Fayette’s Illustrated Gazette of the United States.  This is such a snap shot in time, covering nearly every aspect of the country and its people in each state, county, territory and even Indian nations across the land.

The Homepage has all the places; states, cities, towns, villages, territories in various categories. You can use the alphabetical listing of the towns, which are very detailed. Here is each town or city; showing if there was a post office, which county and state it was in and sometimes additional information like it’s population in 1850. Then a listing for all the territories will have historical information, the physical landscape, its geography, population and industry. The same listing of information is placed for each state of the union in 1850 with its history, population, agriculture, minerals and waterways.  Click on the counties for that state and all will be listed with a description giving its size,  location and population in 1850. Several of the major cities will also have profiles with information about them.

Review also the three separate sections listed as ‘Pages One Two Three‘. Here will be the overview of the physical aspects of the whole country, the farms, climate and government.  Here is also a list of the 14 U. S. Presidents up to 1850 with information on each.

This such a resource with a great overview of the country in 1850. The only items that would make this complete would be images of towns and landscapes across the nation then.  The National Archives website has a nice selection of images especially from the 19th century. Not every location will be on this site but are many there.  There is Albany, NY; Key West, FL; Cincinnati, Ohio; New Orleans, LA; to Sacramento, CA to name a few.

Using the 1850 Gazette will be very helpful in appreciating the land that your ancestors survived in and cherished.

Image above: Portsmouth Square in San Francisco, Calif. – 1850

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