Finding Yesterday with Topical Maps

Genealogy Tips

As the countryside gets scraped off, built upon and altered in so many different ways, we lose sight of its appearance in yester years. For this reason, topographical maps are useful in locating old cemeteries, wells, homesteads, railroads and the like. So what is a topographical map? It is a modern charting of the terrain in any given area, characterized by large-scale detail and quantitative representation of relief and reveals both natural and man-made features. I have used these maps while searching for old home steads and cemeteries. They are quite definitive in locating details such as old farm paths and roads, and the sites where buildings or houses once stood. An excellent finding aid is the descriptions of land lots, creeks, rivers, etc. found in the deeds of the ancestors. Remembering that lakes and rivers were used for navigation, the location of old river beds, rotting dock posts protruding out of the soil and other visuals of a wharf may be central to understanding the positioning of the home stead and its out buildings. Also, the thick weeds in old fields may reveal evidence of plowed rows crops, sunken wells, out-houses, etc., all of which helps to define the period during which our ancestors lived. One never knows what he is to find, until he looks!

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