Geography always matters in genealogical research. It is even more imperative that the researcher contemplate the distances between places during that time period when travel was more difficult and a ten mile trip would have been on foot or horeseback.

Sometimes with a map, it can be difficult for some to really get a feel for how far apart two places are. One way is to compare the distance between two places to the distance between your home and a local place with which you are familiar. The best way is to see the actual geographic area, but most of us are not able to travel to every ancestral location.

When I see that two towns are ten miles apart, I think of several places that are that far from where I live know–just to give perspective. Of course, I also need to consider the local geography of the area (mountains, rivers, etc.) and not the geography of where I live. Political lines that might have been crossed also are a concern in certain locations.

The modes of travel available to your ancestor in 1750, 1850, and 1950 were different–make certain you are aware of those as well.

Check out my 1950 census preparation webinar-1 April is coming up!



2 Responses

  1. This is something I wish more hint clickers gave more thought to. will give you a map of that location. Using the “directions” button and entering a known town will tell you how far away it is. So, if I am looking for a location in Illinois and I know where Chicago is, I can use those two locations to see distance. If I enter the town the hint is giving me and a town I already know is right, I can get a good idea of whether the hint is for my person or someone else.

    • I’m in complete agreement. It’s not like geographic information is not readily available. A little dose of geography would really cut down on the number of totally incorrect documents being attached to people.

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