Some locations do not exist on a map and may only have existed as a reference used by locals to a “generally known” area without precise borders. Newspapers can be one place to at least determine if such a place name actually existed–even if the precise location cannot be determined from the newspaper reference.

That’s case with this 1922 reference from the “Tioga” section of a newspaper from Quincy, Illinois. It mentions “Green Grove” and “Georgetown.” They obviously were relatively close to Tioga and everyone in 1922 knew where they were. The problem is that I don’t live in 1922.

The Green Grove reference was one I heard from my grandmother as a reference to where she attended school. A daughter of the George Trautvetter mentioned in the article, she would have been eleven at the time of the reference and was still attending school at that time.

The United States Geological Survey’s Geographic Information System contained a reference to Green Grove–indicating it was historical reference to a school in Hancock County, Illinois. That made perfect sense given the 1922 newspaper reference. There was no reference to Georgetown in either Hancock or Adams County in that database.

Newspaper references to a location can help you get an idea of where an unmapped place was located.

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One response

  1. I’ve run into the same thing in Illinois newspapers. I am familiar enough that it didn’t cause a hardship but not everyone is so lucky. We had two men of the same name living close together and knowing the “locations” was the only way to tell them apart.

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