10 Reasons Ancestor Hometowns are Hard to Find

Reasons finding ancestral place names is difficult

Incessantly researchers wrestle to find an ancestor’s location on a map from the little they do know concerning the place an ancestor lived. Why is it so tough to doc the places the place our ancestors lived in family tree analysis?

Why Is It Arduous to Study the Place Identify?

Excluding the shortage of clues for the place our ancestors originated or lived, we regularly wrestle to determine a location on a map primarily based on the locations recorded on paperwork and handed down by members of the family. The next listing explains among the difficulties we face:

Non-Normal Spelling of Place Names

Usually once I document the situation of my ancestors in Lincoln, Ontario, I wrestle to know which spelling of their city is appropriate. Ought to I document Gainsboro or Gainsborough? Quite a lot of paperwork document town’s identify each methods.

Spelling Errors In Information

I’ve learn a number of examples the place researchers tried in useless to discover a location primarily based on a handwritten doc. Maybe the identify recorded appears like Brachvale, Canada. No ought to place seems on Canadian maps. Nevertheless, the place was possible a poorly written and misspelled variation of Beachville, Oxford, Ontario, Canada.

Anglicizing of Overseas Place Names

When foreigners try to debate their homeland, a lot is misplaced in translation. Moreover, some places, similar to Eire, transformed the names of their cities from Galic and different dialects to Anglicized names. This article discusses additional the issues in researching Irish ancestors after the land names had been transformed to English.

Cities Named the Similar as Provinces, Counties, or States

Suppose you learn that your ancestor was from Nevada. Is that location town in Vernon County, Missouri, or the state of Nevada?

How about an ancestor dying in Houston. Is that Houston, Harris County, Texas, or Houston County, Texas? The distinction between the 2 places is about 120 or extra.

Do you need to pull your hair out when an ancestor document states they’re from New York? Did they imply town, county, or state? I imply, I lived in New York for a time interval. After I say that, everybody thinks of the Massive Apple Metropolis. That is not the case.

Let’s take a international instance. My ancestors are from Hanover and Baden. Are they from the cities of Hanover and Baden or Kingdom or Duchy?

Kimberly Powell has a great list of place names where your ancestor possible got here from the state or county somewhat than a metropolis with this identify. Listed here are only a few:

  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Brandenburg, Prussia
  • Carmarthen, Wales
  • Cork, Eire
  • Genoa, Italy
  • Granada, Spain
  • Kassel, Germany

Watch this video to hear this discussion in its entirety.


A number of Locations With the Similar Identify

What’s extra irritating than discovering the identify of town you are ancestors lived solely to find which you can’t determine by which state that metropolis is situated?

Do you know that all through america, there are 288 Fairview and 256 Midways populated places? Would not or not it’s good if our ancestors particularly mentioned Fairview, Harrodsburg, Kentucky?

Ancestors Are From a Giant Metropolis

Ancestors who lived in densely populated areas may be extraordinarily complicated. When individuals ask the place I am from, I say, “Houston.”

  • If an individual is from Houston, they’re going to ask, “Actually, what half?”
  • I reply, “Sugarland.”
  • In the event that they’re accustomed to Sugarland, then I’ll slim down that metropolis even additional by naming a highschool or neighborhood as landmarks.

When your ancestors lived in an enormous metropolis (or close to an enormous metropolis), they did one thing just like what you simply learn. In the event that they’re from London or their small village was close to London, they are going to usually reference that location as their homeland though they may very well be from Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, or Covent Backyard

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Geographical Names That Are Not Cities

When individuals requested concerning the locations I’ve lived, I’ll usually embody the quick time interval I lived in Upstate New York. I discovered that if you happen to say you are from New York you need to say Upstate or everybody will assume you had been from New York Metropolis. It is as if New York Metropolis is the one a part of the state. When the truth is, nearly all of New York state.

There actually is not a map of “Upstate New York.” You simply should know that Upstate is all the things aside from the island. Thus, now we’ve an issue.

Are you aware the place I lived in Upstate New York?

Therein lies the issue with a few of our ancestors after they say the place they had been from. As highlighted in this article, when an ancestor says they’re from the Rhineland, Franconia, Piedmont, Lombardy, or Brittany it is very similar to saying I lived in Upstate New York.

Discovering these regional designations may be very tough on a map. And even if you happen to might discover it on a map, the world was so giant which you can’t essentially isolate the place your ancestor lived.

If you’re struggling to find your ancestor’s homeland, faucet into the skilled genealogists at ,,Legacy Tree Genealogists. and inform them Devon Noel Lee referred you.

Place Names Have Modified

Some identify modifications are small, similar to Charles City turning into Charleston. In distinction, different modifications are fairly vital. Usually, the identify modifications occur when political turnover occurs.

As an example:

  • New Granada → Colombia
  • St. Petersburg → Leningrad → St. Petersburg
  • Breslau (Germany) → Wroclaw (Poland)
  • Memel (Prussia) → Klaipedia (Lithuania)

Some cities modified their identify to replicate social sentiments on the time. Just a few Canadian and American cities named Berlin modified their names to one thing else following WWII.

In different conditions, inhabitants progress or decline could cause metropolis and county names to vary.

Wikipedia has a list of renamed places in the US. Clicking by to the brand new place identify might reveal why these names modified.

Boundary Adjustments

Counties, cities, and international locations usually have boundary modifications, and with that identify modifications. A few of my ancestors settled in Ontario, which has had the identify of Higher Canada, Canada West, and Canada because the nation vacation spot.

Another ancestors originated from the Kingdom of Hanover and the Duchy of Baden. Though Germany didn’t type till 1871, many researchers add “Deutschland” to those place names.

Every time doable, we should always replicate on the political designations of the time. That is why I really feel for many who have ancestors from Poland, which is a tough place to analysis because of its frequent boundary modifications.

10 Reasons Ancestral Hometowns are hard to find

Place Names in Abbreviations Confuse Many Genealogists

With trendy family tree databases, we now not want to make use of abbreviations when recording a spot identify. Nevertheless, many paperwork and household histories that we seek the advice of use abbreviations extensively. Usually the doc creator used abbreviations both to preserve house whereas typesetting a publication. In different situations, the recorder was lazy.

Irrespective of the explanation, watch out with abbreviations. You do not need to waste looking out in Alaska somewhat than Alabama when an entry says your ancestor lived in Ala.

Knowing Is Half The Battle on Pinterest

Ideas For Researching Your Ancestor’s Place Names

In GI Joe, a beloved cartoon from my childhood, we’re taught, “Understanding is half the battle.” Once we conduct locality analysis, we have to hold just a few issues in thoughts.

  • Pay attention to the potential of identify modifications.
  • Seek the advice of a map, a gazetteer, historic dictionary, or encyclopedia to find the names of locations and the way these names modified.
  • Use the place names of the time, not the fashionable equal.
  • Report place names from smallest to largest.
  • Think about using lat/lengthy coordinates when you uncover a location.

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