Saturday, June 14, 2014

Neighbor Nuptials: HistoryGeo Puts Neighbors On the Map

Who did your early ancestors marry? Of course, it was often their neighbors! Last week I learned about HistoryGeo through a Genealogy Guys podcast (#263) and was able to visually see that my Coppenbarger & Randolph ancestors of De Witt County, Illinois were neighbors!

HistoryGeo's First Landowners Project contains nearly 8 million original landowners in a single map. You can search for landowners by surname or by location. My Coppenbarger & Randolph ancestors were early settlers in De Witt County, Illinois (then Macon County) under the Land Act of 1820. Basically, this land act required cash instead of credit for land purchases. It also dropped the price of an acre from $1.65 to $1.25 and tract size from 160 to 80 acres. This land was available for purchase in the Northwest Territories (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota) & Missouri. These lower prices ($100 for 80 acres versus $264 for 160 acres) encouraged many settlers to move West, including my two families from Virginia.

1833 U.S. Land Office Record for Jacob Coppenbarger then in Macon County now in De Witt County, Illinois
HistoryGeo doesn't just show you a map with names and the year of purchase. If you click on a specific piece of land you can see the following:

  • the names of all warantees & patentees
  • the patent date
  • the accession (I don't know what this field is)
  • location
  • township
  • range
  • section
  • aliquot
  • meridian
  • authority (for example, mine shows it's from the Land Act of 1820)
  • longitude
  • latitude
You can also click on the following links:
  • "View U.S. County Boundary History"
  • "View this Spot in Google Maps"
  • "View BLM Source"
  • "View BLM Document"
Unfortunately, the BLM website (Bureau of Land Management) doesn't seem to be working today so I can't share any specifics from there. I know when I looked at a document the other day, it was the same as the above document I found on But, there might be more records available.

A few other things I noted about the Coppenbarger & Randolph families while on HistoryGeo's maps:
  • I found that the two families owned a lot of land! (most of my ancestors were fairly poor, but this branch might be an exception)
  • I found other 'neighbors' who my family intermarried with - like Elisha Butler
  • I found the Randolph Cemetery which was located on Elisha Butler's land (there is also a cemetery 'search' button for these maps!)

One note: most of the First Landowners are from the west coast and central United States, not from the colonies. I counted entries for 30 of the 50 states. So, it really depends on where your ancestors lived as to whether or not you'll find this site very useful at this time.

Next up: I'll explore the Antique Maps Collections!

Do we share common ancestors? I'd love to talk! Please write me at

1 comment:

  1. This is a cool resource, thanks for the post. I've enjoyed reading your other posts as well, I will return often to see how you are doing!


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