Changing County and State Boundaries

It can be a challenge if you have ancestors dating back a couple of hundred years. Not just to learn their names and other information but also where did they live. Even if you thought they remained in the same county of the same state for decades … you will quickly see that county and state borders changed quite a bit over the years even into the 20th century.

So you think you are searching for an ancestor who lived in a specific county and it turns out that portion of the county had its name changed several times and may have also been part of a larger county at one time.

Using the free online ‘Atlas of Historical County Boundaries‘ you will be amazed at the changes over the years. It allows you to find a specific state and then over the years see how the boundary and the name changed.

With your computer mouse you can pan over a cluster of counties, you can zoom in, enlarge to full screen plus either print the map or do a screen digital print for y our records. Information is also provided of dates and names.

A classic example is the county changes to the state of Florida. That state was one of the last wildernesses explored and settled. Today we think of Miami in Dade County in the SE corner of the peninsular. Yet, for years all the land from the northern end of the Florida Keys to Lake Okeechobee was Dade County. This was because there were not enough people living there to form smaller counties in land size. Later as more people in the early 20th century came to Florida, the counties of Palm Beach, Broward and Martin were formed from the northern and central portions of the old Dade County.

Then there were county names that no longer exist such as ‘Mosquito County’ in Florida along the central east coast of the state. This is very helpful when trying to find records related to your ancestors.

So a very interesting site ‘Atlas of Historical County Boundaries ‘ to check out.

Photos: Florida maps from 1826 to 1905.

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