Update: Historical Counties and Drawing Tools

First, the popular Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker chrome extension has been updated to work with the latest version of Ancestry’s website.

Also, now when you use the Historical U.S. Counties map tool, you can explore the historical counties for any historical date in the context of civil townships. As you likely know, civil townships are often used in a lot of historical records from census to land ownership and more. Now, when you turn on labels for historical counties by checking the “Show historical county labels” box in the lower left corner of the map, if you also check the “Show present-day townships” box, as you zoom in you will see both historical county labels in brown and civil township labels in dark orange, as in the following screenshot:

Screenshot showing both historical county labels and civil township labels

Note that the civil townships are present-day boundaries, while the county boundaries are historical as of the date you choose at the top of the map. While not perfect, this works fairly well because civil township boundaries have changed much less often than county boundaries and so even present day townships can help you get better historical context of an area you are researching.

And finally, for monthly contributors, you can now add drawings on one map tool and then add the drawing to another map tool! For example, let’s say you draw your ancestor’s farm using the Section Township Range map tool, using the “Draw & Measure” button (which takes you to mapBuilder’s “Draw & measure on the map” module):

Now, once you save your drawing to your My Account page (you will be prompted to save after drawing on the map; just read the instructions that will appear at the top of the map while drawing), you can then go to another map tool and add your drawing to that map.

Let’s go back to the Historical U.S. Counties map tool for an example. Open mapBuilder below the map and choose your drawing from the right side of the “Draw & measure on the map” module:

When you click the “Show these Drawings on the map” button, you will then see your ancestor’s farm in the context of historical county boundaries, like this example that shows the property was in Cass County, Michigan Territory in 1830, but by 1831 it was in St. Joseph County!

I hope these enhancements help you with your research and mapping. And if you haven’t already, be sure and install the Historical U.S. Counties Auto-Checker for chrome and never let another ancestor fall off the map!

Happy mapping!

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