County Boundaries

How adventurous were your ancestors? Would they be considered pioneers? Did they seek out new homes in the territories formed as the United States expanded westward? If so, have you paid attention to the changing boundary lines for the counties?

Since my genealogy research started in Kansas where it wasn’t impacted by changes in county boundaries, I wasn’t aware these changes could impact my research. That all changed when I traced my CRAWFORD family back to Kentucky. My ancestor, James Crawford, married Sally Duggins in 1799 in Garrard County, Kentucky. Thus, I tried to find his parents and siblings in Garrard County.

This quest to locate CRAWFORD relatives in Garrard County expanded to include Madison and Lincoln counties. In that quest, I found a James Crawford with land on Paint Lick Creek in Madison County. I also found a Rebekah Crawford who witnessed marriage bonds for Mary, Sarah and James Crawford in Lincoln County. It was only after getting a map of the early land owners of Garrard county, that I realized that the land owned by both James Crawford (on Paint Lick Creek) and Rebekah Crawford (on headwaters of Sugar and Boone’s creeks) is located in Garrard County.

When another genealogist introduced me to the site, Map of US, the interactive map for Kentucky helped me understand how the changing county boundaries affected my research.

Since the 1780 counties of Kentucky were formed from Kentucky county which was originally called Fincastle county, there are five counties that I have to research for my Garrard county CRAWFORD family: Fincastle, Kentucky, Lincoln, Madison and Garrard.

Thanks to the 1850 census, I believe that James Crawford was born in Virginia. There are clues that the family goes back to Augusta County, Virginia. Research of collateral lines has uncovered other CRAWFORD lines in Amherst and Rockbridge counties. From my Kentucky experience, I know that I have to pay attention to the possibility of changes in the county boundary lines.

Thus, I go to the Map of US site to visualize the changing boundary lines for Augusta County, Virginia.

1738 – Augusta County formed from Orange County

In 1761, the map shows the formation of Amherst County. While Amherst was not formed from Augusta county, it borders Augusta county.

1769 – Botetourt County formed from Augusta County

1772 – Fincastle County formed from Botetourt County

1776 – Kentucky and Montgomery counties formed (along with Washington county)

1778 – the western portions of Botetourt and Augusta counties are split off into new counties and Rockbridge county is formed between Botetourt and Augusta counties.

This map study has revealed that my CRAWFORD research in Virginia needs to be very broad! I need to look at records and histories for the following counties:

  • Amherst
  • Rockbridge
  • Augusta
  • Botetourt
  • Montgomery
  • Fincastle
  • Kentucky
  • and possibly all of the western counties formed from Augusta (including portions of Pennsylvania)

This also will likely mean broadening my FAN club to include the various CRAWFORD lines in these counties.

For it will likely require researching all of these places and all of these people to figure out my CRAWFORD line!

4 thoughts on “County Boundaries

      1. For the most part. Unfortunately, the court house burned with all the records around 1700. My biggest issue still remains the lack of records from the early 1700’s. There were 3 clans by the same surname in the colony living in the same area. Connecting my line to one of those three was an adventure. I have a bible from 1899 that includes parts (they bound the old pages into the new bible) of a much older bible with dates going back to the mid 1700’s. Still nothing definitive but I have amassed a ton of circumstantial facts (including a bible passed in estate from father to son) to support a conclusion.

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