A cure for cold, drab winter days is to check the free website known as Cyndislist. The site, https://cyndislist.com, links to thousands of genealogy-related sites. Some linked sites are free to use, while others require a subscription. Some provide information or copies of documents and photographs for a fee.

This column is about a website that pertains to Missouri plat maps. When the Cyndislist site opens, scroll down the list of topics to “United States.” From the list of states, click on “Missouri.” When the next screen opens, click on “Land.” When the next screen opens, scroll through the list. You will notice several exceptional free websites that pertain to land: Missouri Digital Heritage, Bureau of Land Management, and Plat Books of Missouri.

Click on the Missouri plat books option. That set of plat books, which were published before large dams were built, shows the location of waterways, railroads and towns previous to the profound changes that resulted from dams. Plat maps also show the names of land owners and provide an outline of their land.

Through plat books, the names of neighbors can be learned. Those neighbors might be related, or their descendants might have married descendants of our ancestors. The names are great clues that can break through brick walls of research.

The set of 114 digitized maps was obtained from plat books at the Ellis Library at University of Missouri-Columbia and St. Louis Public Library. The books were published in the 1920s-30s by W.W. Hixon & Co of Rockford, Illinois.

Next, scroll down the list of counties and select a county where an ancestor lived. The next screen displays the cover of that plat book. The second page is a map of the county that shows townships and lists legal descriptions.

Before proceeding further, become acquainted with icons and bars on the page. Those features make a search of each township much easier. Place the pointer on the bar at the bottom of the screen. Slide the bar back and forth. Notice that the bar allows you to quickly move from one page (township) to another. Also notice that there is a bar on the right side of the plat map. Place the pointer on that bar and slide it up and down. That bar allows you to quickly move from north to south in a map. Next, notice the bar immediately beneath the map. Place the arrow on that bar and slide it back and forth. That bar allows you to move from east to west in a map. Next, notice the icons above the map that look like a magnifying glass. Those icons let you zoom in and out of the map.

Now that you are acquainted with the icons, select the township where your ancestor lived. Notice the names of your ancestors’ neighbors and make a list of them. I guarantee that plat maps will make you forget about snow, sleet and cloudy days. Enjoy.

Suggestions or comments? Contact Frankie Meyer at frankiemeyer@yahoo.com

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