By Frankie Meyer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Searching for the area where an ancestor lived? After checking old deeds and other courthouse records, one can often obtain a legal description of the area. Once that information is known, the next step is to find a plat map of the region for the time period in which the person lived there.
If your ancestor lived in Missouri, you will be thrilled to learn that maps from 114 plat books of the counties are free online at digital.library.umsystem.edu.
The site notes that the books were published the late 1920s and early 1930s by W.W. Hixson & Co. Some originals are at the St.Louis Public Library, and some are at the Ellis Library at the University of Missouri-Columbia campus.
When the site opens, click on “Plat Books of Missouri.” The next screen has a list of Missouri counties. Click on the county.
The next screen shows the cover of that plat book. To see the first page, place the pointer on the upper right hand box. Click on the map for that county.
Because the map will be small, you may need to enlarge it by selecting one of the boxes on the left. Once the map is large enough for you to read the names of towns, communities and waterways, you will be able to determine the region where your ancestor lived.
Note that the outer edges of the map list the legal descriptions of townships and ranges. Check to see which township and range line up with the area where your ancestor lived. Record the information.
After you have determined your township and range, place the pointer on the upper right hand box and select the map for the area that you are wanting to study.
When the next screen opens, you may want to enlarge the map further by using the series of boxes on the left. After the map is enlarged, you will have a map that shows old roads, waterways, cemeteries and schools, as well as the names of land owners, the amount of land they owned, the shape of their farm, and the names of their neighbors.
Because many of the large lakes in Missouri (such as Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, Stockton Lake, Lake Pomme De Terre and Table Rock Lake) were not built until after 1930, these maps provide a rich source of information about roads and communities that no longer exist or have drastically changed.
What a great collection of new clues for your family history!
Suggestions or queries? Send to Frankie Meyer, 509 N. Center St., Plainfield, IN 46168, or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.