Great Geo Guessing Game

GeoGuessr is a cool geography game that uses Google Street View.  The game randomly places you all around the world, and you get points for clicking on the map as close as you can to the place you’re viewing.  Sometimes you get lucky and know where you are based on some famous landmark, but very often you have to try to figure it out based on subtle clues in the scenery, roads, signs, people, flora and fauna.  So far, my personal best is just over 13,000 points in one round — how high can you score?

1660 New Amsterdam atop 2013 New York

The excellent historical blog Ephemeral New York has a post today about the 1660 Costello Plan, referred to by the New York Public Library as the “earliest known plan of New Amsterdam and the only one dating from the Dutch period.” To put the original Costello Plan into a present-day context, I’ve overlaid it on Google Earth and made these screenshots of lower Manhattan (click the images to see larger versions): North is up in this map.  Look how much of present day New York would have been underwater back in 1660!  Manhattan’s west coast would have been present-day Greenwich Street, … Read more

Slovenia and North Korea on top in 2012 Olympic Medal Count

While the US and China are vying for top honors in the 2012 Olympic Medal Count overall, I had been thinking that country-comparisons on total medal count is a bit unbalanced way to look at it since, well, they’re both very populous countries!  What if we account for this by weighting the medal count by population…or what about wealth? Huffington Post did just that here. As of the morning of August 2nd, it turns out that Slovenia comes out on top in population-weighted medal count: And North Korea comes out on top in GDP-weighted medal count: It will be interesting … Read more

What do courthouses, cemeteries, churches, and libraries have in common?

Well, for the genealogist and historical researcher, they’re all great places to look for historical sources and information on ancestors, historical figures, or the local area.  And they’ve recently been incorporated into my Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool!  Just check the “Show Research Locations” checkbox and then select which categories you want to show, and symbols will appear on the map: Then, you can click an icon, and an info window will appear: The name of the place and the Website are both hyperlinks, which will open up a Google Places page for more information on the place: I’ve … Read more

New and more interactive version of the Historical U.S. County Boundary Maps tool released!

Check out the new and more interactive version of the Historical US County Boundary Maps tool! Here’s a quick run-down on what’s new: Show me the answer now please!  Now, when you type a Place and a Year* and click the Go button, you will be zoomed to that place and an information panel will automatically appear above the map, as highlighted here: I want the details.  The information panel above the map shows the year, county name, full place name, and details about the latest evolution of your county of interest’s boundaries as of the year you chose.  Source … Read more

Are you sure you’re looking in the right county for those records?

Example of county boundaries changing over time

When doing genealogical or historical research, it’s helpful (if not essential) to know what counties to search for the timeframe you’re interested in.  And as we all know, boundaries shift over time.  So you may think you know what counties to search, but is there a chance you’re missing something? Take a look at this example.  Let’s assume you’re looking for records for your homesteading ancestors who settled in the region between Albuquerque, Los Alamos, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  This animation shows the boundaries by decade from 1850 to 1950.  Those county boundaries were anything but stable.  Take for … Read more

New and simple online tool uses Google Maps to show historical county boundaries

THIS POST CONTAINS UPDATES FROM 06 JUN 2011: Thanks so much for all of the interest in this tool, and for your positive comments and constructive feedback!  I’ve incorporated several enhancements into the current version. We all know the importance of county governments for maintaining various types of records that are useful for genealogical research.  But how often have you tried searching for an ancestor’s historical records for a given county, only to realize that you were searching in the right place but the wrong county?  In fact, according to John H. Long, the director of the Atlas of Historical … Read more

Frank and Jesse James lived in the same neighborhood as my great great great Grandfather. So THAT’S what my great Grandmother was always alluding to…

Check this out: In 1860, in Clay County, Missouri, Frank and Jesse James are found living in the same neighborhood as my great great great Grandfather James S. Holt. [See 1860 Federal Census images below].  Jesse James and James S. Holt were the same age and would have gone to school together. Also, by around 1910, still in Clay County, Missouri, James S. Holt’s son, Charles N. Holt (my great great Grandfather) can be found living just down the road from Frank James (Jesse James had been shot and killed in 1882). [See map below from around 1910 with the … Read more

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