[APG Public List] APGPublicList Digest, Vol 12, Issue 38
laboswell at rogers.com
Mon Nov 1 10:42:42 MDT 2010
Depends on the landmarks, and whether or not the location is needed. I use
landmarks all the time in London, UK research. And pinpointed closely using
coordinates, but then London has some very accurate historical maps. It's being
able to move between different maps through different periods, and translate
into digital locations simply makes life easier. I don't much care if the house
or location is under a modern freeway. I want to know all the changes that
came to that location, as that will tell what I need to know when I move to the
"record creating/jurisdictional "landscape" to find who may have created
records, and over time track where those records might have been shifted as the
jurisdictional hierarchy shifted over time.
I can plug in coordinates associated with family, extended family, associates,
friends, work locations, and understand why I should also check a parish 10
miles north of London. I can compare where children were born between censuses.
I could do all that by recording "named locations" (which I do anyway, names
applicable to a location are always associated with the same coordinates). I
could say X is baptized in St. Leonards, Shoreditch, Y in Andrews, Enfield (and
a dozen others besides) but instead I have them marked by coordinates that
transfer between various digital mapping tools, including topographical maps.
"Social" maps like Booth's in London. It's a mapping tool, but a very
powerful one whose potential we're barely tapping into yet
In rural Vermont, New York, and so on, yes deeds etc are 20 feet from the oak at
the bend in the Oxbow River. I've stood at that bend in the Oxbow and by using
surviving landscape clues pretty much know I'm close to the land being
described, if now exactly on it. Pop out my GPS, and mark that spot. Take it
home and transfer it to Google Earth (and other digital mapping resources, as
well as historical maps). Now when I refer to the property months later, or
haul out the file, I have a starting point to refer to. I can zoom in to the
neighbouring areas, see who else is farming nearby, zoon out to a modern
contemporary map to see locations of churches, small libraries, local history
societies, major repositories, modern jurisdictional authorities who might hold
records, and so on.
without that you're always back to late 1700s means of recording your locations.
By the oak two meters from Jed Clawback's farm, where the bend in the Oxbow
River turns left before the rapids. No, I'll pick up the coordinates and within
seconds be reminded of what location I'm dealing with. And I can shift and
refine those coordinates as I realize errors, or new information surfaces
and that bend in the Oxbow I mentioned just put a fraction of the farm under
consideration into a neighbouring jurisdiction that you might have missed if you
assumed that the boundary followed the river (which it did except for this
little loop of land that projected into the next one, though it was on the right
side of the river to be assumed as part of the properties on that same side).
Eventually sanity (and several petitions) put the projection of land into the
same jurisdiction as all the others on that side of the river, but before it did
records were created in the other one, where they remain today).
Michael it just rationalizes location in a form appropriate to digital realities
From: Michael Hait <michael.hait at hotmail.com>
To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org
Sent: Mon, November 1, 2010 11:53:45 AM
Subject: Re: [APG Public List] APGPublicList Digest, Vol 12, Issue 38
I don’t see how latitude/longitude coordinates help in any way to discover the
physical location in relation to historic boundaries. The historic boundaries
were established using landmarks, and in years of research, I have yet to see a
single deed, plat, or boundary-changing law that included latitude/longitude on
it. All of the historic records I have seen used landmarks to denote
location. The best that we can hope to “pinpoint” locations no longer in use
would be through the use of these historic records, and the historic landmarks
they note. How does taking the time and effort to “pinpoint” the coordinates
of a town or even a house help at all, when that fact will not appear in any of
the other records that will be researched? Would this approach necessitate
similarly “pinpointing” the coordinates for each of referenced landmarks?
I have used historic maps in my research in many ways, and have even played
with superimposing them onto Google Earth, for exactly the reasons that you note
in terms of the topography. But exact coordinates would not be enough
additional help to make the process worthwhile, in my opinion. I can look at a
historic map that shows an ancestral county and see, for example, if a river or
a mountain range is there. Deeds will nearly always mention if the river--or
even a small creek that may no longer exist--ran directly through a specific
piece of property.
In most of the places that I currently research, the topography has physically
changed dramatically even in just the past 100 years. Most of Prince George’s
County, Maryland, for example, is now paved, covered with housing complexes,
highways, office buildings, shopping centers. At the time of the Civil War,
much of this same land was covered with small farms or large plantations. If I
am researching the colonial period, the changes have been even more dramatic.
So how would the coordinates of a location provide insight into the historic
topography that no longer exists today?
So, in other words, my question remains: how do the exact coordinates add in
any way to the research that historic maps, plats, and deeds (and other
historic records) would not cover?
michael.hait at hotmail.com
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