Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mapping Our Family's History

I love maps!

I have always loved maps.  From the time I was a young girl, my father would place a road map into my hands and I would follow along the route, never once having to ask "are we there yet?"  He told me how proud he was that I could read a road map, for none of his sisters could.

Mr. Kerry and I taught our own children how to read maps, supplying them with their own mini-road atlas as we crossed the country.  Those children were very good at orienteering during their Army years.

But in tracing one's genealogy, it's nearly impossible to create an accurate history without using maps.  I have my own collection, and they are not up for borrowing in my family.  Y'all just get your own!
Once, when I was teaching a series of genealogy classes, the subject of using maps was being emphasized.  I brought some of the most important ones that I have that show nooks and crannies and creeks that contain family names in Carter County, Kentucky.  


One gentleman suggested to me that I needed a Hildebrand map.  Okay, what's a Hildebrand map?  He said just call the public library in Roanoke, Virginia, and they would direct me on how to get one.  

So, I did.  They said they had all of them, and wanted to know which one I wanted.  I didn't know, so I asked them what they had.  When she told me, I knew I had to have them all.  It would cost $96.  I asked if they took Visa, which they did not.  But, she said just send a check in the mail.  She would go ahead and send the maps.  My sisters shared the cost.

When they arrived, nothing else in my house got done.  Nothing.  I perused these maps for days - and I still do!  Mr. Hildebrand was a cartographer who lived in Virginia.  He devised these Settlement Maps that show the residences of people in the county, and the year they first appeared in the county.
The above map is for Franklin County, Virginia, and comprises the years 1786-1886.

How I wish there were more "Mr. Hildebrands" for all of the areas I research in!!  He has done a project that to me is more valuable than most anything else I have.  My sisters and I have spread these maps out and highlighted family members.  Months later, we return to the same map to highlight more.

Other states may have similar maps.  Some may be called a settlement map, others may be a simple plat map.

He's no longer alive so that I may personally thank him.  But, I will forever be indebted to him.



J.R. Hildebrand Settlement Maps


Roanoke Farms
Fincastle County
Wythe County
Town of Salem
Original Grants, Roanoke
Beverly Patent, Orange & Augusta
Borden Grant, west of Blue Ridge
Pulaski County
Rockbridge County
Franklin County
Augusta County
Botetourt County
Bedford County
Montgomery County
Roanoke Public Library
706 S Jefferson St. – Roanoke, VA  24016
540-853-2473

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