State Lines Have to be Rivers

The title of this post is not a true statement. But there was a time as a child when I thought it was. I grew up in western Illinois, barely fifteen miles from the Mississippi River and Keokuk, Iowa, which is the southeastern portion of the state. The Mississippi River forms the Illinois-Iowa border. The Des Moines River forms a short portion of the Iowa-Missouri border in that part of the state.

When I was a child, if we went to Iowa we crossed the Mississippi River. If we went to Missouri, we either crossed the Des Moines River or the Mississippi River (depending upon how we travelled). But the thing was, given our always limited travel radius, we always crossed a river to go into a new state.

And so as a small child, I thought all states were like that: you had to cross a river to get to a new state. The first time I travelled to Indiana, it seemed so odd to cross into a new state without crossing a river at the same time. It almost seemed anti-climatic as there was not bridge, no river–just an apparent line in the dirt.

It is easy for any of us to get odd ideas in our head based upon our personal life experiences. Sometimes those odd ideas end up getting incorporated into events that actually happen and a family tradition is born. Sometimes those odd ideas end up being assumptions that impact our genealogical research. Either way, those odd ideas can present stumbling blocks in our research.

But sometimes there is a reason behind those odd ideas. Sometimes that is worth finding as well.

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