Still Another Update to Randy Majors’ Genealogy Mapping Web Site

Randy Majors continues to turn Google Maps into a service with many more features than what the Google software engineers ever dreamed of. (See for my earlier articles about Randy’s many additional features for Google Maps.) Now he writes:

Now feel free to add City Limits to your County Maps — and actually see what’s going on!
(I’ve added automatic coloring to the City Limits so their much easier to see what’s going on.) See

New Tool shows Elevations on Google Maps, all over the world
(a geogeek tool for sure, this one has some cool features like ability to show Elevation Profiles and to see areas of same elevation, etc). See

How to link to an HISTORICAL County Lines map for any Year and Geographic Area of Interest — overlaid on Google Maps
(this one is good for genealogy websites, bloggers etc that want to include a link to a map of a specific area and timeframe). See for instructions on how to use this.


If someone wants to know where an ancestor lived in rural areas after getting a Land Patent (aka Land Grant), they need to contact the county courthouse for a plat map of a township. Before some of the townships were given names, they were found as “township and range” numbers on some US Census pages (enter that exact info in Google and one might find a plat map site; I found out there’s more than one Prime Meridian that way). If you can find the Land Grant, the property description will describe the section of land (usually 160 acres, a quarter section of land) where someone lived; an image of the original land grant is free online at the BLM-GLO web site, but if one wants additional info, one has to pay for it. Years of plat maps differ, but the year is often not included on the images (that detail would be in the front of a county book with plat maps). Depending on the locations, plat maps are sometimes online; google it.
A little misleading for some people doing genealogy research is the rural Post Office address. There are federal gov’t listings for rural postmasters (, I think – I found at least two searching for people out on branches and twigs of my family tree and downloaded the images). The Post Office locations were often only farm houses in the neighborhood, not an actual town, but in family trees I occasionally see Post Office locations listed as a town address where someone was born (perhaps the family got the PO address off of an old letter or something?). That’s not where they were born (which was a neighboring farmstead), but just where they went to pick up their mail before Rural Free Delivery (RFD) was invented to deliver mail to one’s home. (RFD addresses were listed by the time of the 1905 MN State Census.)
Post Office locations are listed on early plat maps, too, so the Post Office address may well be (often was) the surname of a local neighbor who owned the farm where one went to pick up one’s mail. [One Post Office farmstead address that used the surname of the property owner in my records did build a general store on his farmstead where the mail was picked up. The location was many miles from the nearest actual town so perhaps a store was needed, but a town did not spring up around it. A few years later a fire destroyed it.]
One of the Fun Facts about genealogy researchers is that if one does it long enough one may become a map freak and an amateur etymologist which may also lead to becoming a collector of translating dictionaries…, and a collector of other miscellaneous info that fits on the Trivia Tree that shares roots with the Family Tree. 😉


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