I have been using an interesting new web service called SiteFinder Online. It is a free web-based version of The Gold Bug's SiteFinder U.S. place name database. I have been using the service to locate old cemeteries, but it has many other uses as well. SiteFinder Online lets you search for towns, cemeteries, schools, and courthouses (and more) and plot them onto Google Maps, where you can zoom in and out or overlay the SiteFinder locations onto satellite images of areas you are studying.
The use of SiteFinder Online is simple: go to the web site and enter as much of the following information as you have about the location(s) you seek:
- Word(s) in the place name
- Type (place, cemetery, courthouse, school, church, or military)
Then click on SEARCH, and you soon see a list of places that match your words. The results are either listed in a table or automatically plotted onto Google Maps
I was able to find towns, churches, cemeteries, and more. It is noteworthy that not all the cemeteries or all the churches are identified - only the ones that are in the SiteFinder's database. In the case of cemeteries, it looks as if the source of information is the U.S. government's GNIS database. Cemeteries that I know are missing in the government's GNIS database are also missing in SiteFinder Online.
Plotting the locations onto Google Maps is a great convenience. The use of maps helps identify which locations are near others, often simplifying the search for the locations mentioned in old genealogies, land records, wills, and elsewhere.
You can either plot multiple items at once in SiteFinder Online or search for a specific point of interest. In addition to the more than 700,000 current locations, there are thousands of historical locations that no longer exist and won't be found on current maps.
The database contains all the locations contained in the version included with the AniMap County Boundary Historical Atlas software. The search capabilities are a little more limited, but quite sufficient for SiteFinder. You can access this free service at http://www.goldbug.com/map/sitefinder.html.