Did they Make a Location Distinction?

Normally in genealogical writing it is suggested that authors make it clear whether a location refers to a town/city or county. Clarity matters. Not all writers do that, partially because they think it’s “obvious” or don’t realize the possibility for confusion.

A county-wide publication of biographies in the 1980s included a piece on a relative. The book appeared to be one of those where family members submit material, pay for their copy of the book, and it gets published. There is no copy-editing either for style or fact. That’s fine as long as the user of the material is aware of that.

Being somewhat familiar with some of the areas discussed in the article, I knew the author was referring to a county even when that word was not used. But someone unfamiliar with the area would not. There were locations in a variety of states referenced in the biography and given what I noticed about places I was aware of, I concluded that there could be other potentially confusing references as well. I transcribed the document as it was written.

It will take some work to determine whether Des Moines, Iowa, meant the county or the city within that state. “Hancock, Illinois,” could mean the county or perhaps even a township of that name located in a county other than Hancock.

Take a look at what is on my genealogy bookshelf.

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