Atlas of Historical County Boundaries Interactive Map is BACK!

One of the most valuable FREE tools for genealogists (in my opinion) is finally back!  The Newberry Library has released a test version of the interactive county boundary maps.  You can find it at http://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/.

Although the information on county boundary changes still existed while the interactive tool was being overhauled, many have been waiting patiently for the return of the interactive map.

What makes this tool so valuable?

One of the time consuming mistakes a genealogist can make is searching in the wrong location for our ancestors.  I learned this when I first started researching.  I was searching for some of my Maryland ancestors in Harford County, Maryland.  I couldn’t find any records for them in the 1700s even though I knew they were there.  Turns out I was right, they were there except it wasn’t Harford County, it was Baltimore County.  Knowing that Harford County wasn’t formed until 1774 would have saved my months of searching for records in the wrong location.  Once I realized that I should have been searching Baltimore County instead of  Harford County, I found many of the records I needed.  If the interactive map had existed back then I would have saved much time and head scratching.

Once I discovered the interactive map it was a definite “go to” site, especially when beginning research in a new location.

Check out the new tool.  Users have the ability to provide feedback on the interactive map as well via email.

 

I scream, you scream!

I had a little bit of genealogy serendipity happen today.

Back story – Recently while doing some collateral research on a line on my maternal grandmother’s side, I found a 1st cousin 5 times removed, a man named Jacob Fussell, Jr.  Jacob, a Quaker, was the first ice cream manufacturer in the United States.  His business started in Seven Valleys, York County, Pennsylvania in 1851 after an older Quaker asked him to take on a business that he had acquired by way of a defaulted loan.  In 1854 Jacob moved his business to Baltimore City, Maryland and eventually expanded to several cities in the U.S.

Two weeks ago I did a presentation at a local genealogy discussion group that I belong to that included some information on Jacob.  On my slideshow I included a picture of Jacob Fussell’s ice cream wagon that I had found on Google.  During the presentation, some discussion ensued about the ice cream cart and where was it today.  After saying that I had gotten the picture from Google and hadn’t actually taken it, a few people speculated on where the cart may be.  Someone said that they thought they had seen it at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

Also, on an unrelated but related note – I belong to the Maryland Historical Society, with a joint membership to the Maryland Genealogical Society.  I needed to renew my membership and while in the process of renewing on through the internet the other evening I was interrupted and never completed the process.

Now on to this morning – I work 3 days a week in downtown Baltimore, about a half mile from the Maryland Historical Society.  Since this morning was so nice and I usually try to get a lunchtime walk in on nice days AND I hadn’t renewed my membership, I decided to kill 2 birds and walk to the Historical Society and renew in person.

I walked in the door and look what was parked in the lobby:

Jacob Fussell Ice Cream Cart at the Maryland Historical Society

WOW, I had chills!  I also lost my head because in my excitement I failed to read the placard that you see in front of the cart.  I found out that the cart had in fact been at the Museum of Industry, on loan from the Historical Society.

Luckily I will have the opportunity to go back (probably tomorrow) to read it and snap a picture or two.

On a side note, in 1951 the Historical Society erected a plaque at the site of his factory at Hillen and Exeter Streets.  In looking at Google Street View I couldn’t locate the plaque on any of the buildings that still stand at the intersection.  So, I am trying to find out if the building is still standing and if it isn’t, what happened to the plaque??  I talked to a couple people at the society today and the consensus is that it unfortunately probably ended up in a dumpster.  I hope not.

Now, if Jacob’s ice cream cart could lead me to his father-in-law’s burial location I would be eternally grateful!

Genealogy Geeks Unite

Tonight a genealogy discussion group I belong to had a “Lock-In”.  About 50 of us were locked in a local public library for 6 hours this evening to do research.  It was my first lock-in so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

 

The night was long, but enjoyable.  Several people, including me, volunteered as “experts”.  I was able to help a couple people with their research, which was great!
People were able to collaborate on research, share ideas and use library resources. 
I decided that I would take the evening scanning many of my random notes into Evernote in my effort to “go paperless”. I got everything I took scanned and ready to index much quicker than I thought.
I scanned all the random notes in these notebooks using the CamScanner app on my iPhone. It worked great!
I very much look forward to the next lock-in event. 

Gotta get back in time

A very cool video showed up on my Facebook timeline this morning.

A photographer and animator in Moscow, Russia has taken pictures from several U.S. cities in the 1900s and animated them.

Visit PetaPixel to see Alexey Zakharov’s “The Old New World” video.

And if you are interested, visit Alexey’s page on Behance to see other projects by Alexey.

Enjoy!!

Evaluating Signatures

Several years ago I was helping someone with research on one of their ancestors.  He was was looking for an ancestor that had a fairly common name in a big city.  It was difficult to track which guy was “the guy” due to similar names, ages, spouse names and inconsistent birth/marriage dates.

At the time, one of the things we were doing was looking at signatures on different documents and comparing them to try and find the correct ancestor.  We had a few that were vaguely similar but enough differences to assume they weren’t the correct person. 

I am no expert in handwriting analysis and I understand that how someone signs their name can change over time but I was pretty confident at the time that we could rule certain samples out.

But a co-worker said something to me today that has me rethinking our analysis back then.
I had to update some forms and my co-worker had copies of the forms I signed five years ago.  I was also required to provide my drivers license (which I renewed and signed two years ago).
After I signed the forms and handed over my license the co-worker said, “are you sure these old signatures are yours?”.  Of course I was sure…I signed them.  Then it hit me.

Last June I was hiking, slipped on a rock in a stream, fell and broke the middle finger on my right hand.  The x-rays revealed a benign tumor in that finger which required surgery once the break healed.  I spent all of June, July and August with a splint that immobilized the last 3 fingers of my right hand.  Then came 4 months of therapy to try and restore the range of motion of my fingers (which I still do not have).  I still cannot make a fist or hold a pen the way I did before the fall.  Therefore, I am not able to sign my name the way I did before, I am not sure I ever will.

In 100 years when someone is researching me, if they find documents with my signature, and they compare them, I am sure it will be confused. 

By the way, in the times since the original signature evaluation of my friend’s ancestor, he has been able to find additional information that allowed him to find the right guy.  One of the signatures we had ruled out did belong to him…three of them did not.