Thursday, June 2, 2011

Surname Found on Landmarks

Are You Related?

Lawrence Co., Missouri
Zinns Mill was built in the late 1830s 
near the head of the Spring River 
and named for Henry Zinn, the owner.
You've decided to go to your ancestor's homeplace of 1850.  The first thing to do, is to grab a copy of the current AAA map, and with a highlighter in hand, begin marking any landmark, street name, alley reference, cemetery, and building that bears your surname.  Ok...this may not work with the Smith's, William's and Jones', but let's take the Zinn's, Strader's and Vestal surnames.

What's the Purpose?
If you've already done a fair amount of research and have confirmed that your ancestor's resided there, why not take one step further to verify after whom these landmarks were named?

The best that could happen: confirm that the once working mill was Uncle Peter's.  The worst that could happen is that you learn a bit of the social history of your ancestor's hometown.

Where to Go for Answers?
Land commission, deeds, obituaries and local history books will tell volumes.  Don't forget the land plat maps of 1850 (or whenever Uncle Peter lived there).  These maps not only tell you who owned the land, they are marked with neighbors names.  Be sure to also look at bordering counties.

There was a time when citizens improved and maintained roads. Did your ancestor live on the road; or was road maintenance assigned to your ancestor resulting in a road name?  This data can be found in the Court or Aldermen Minutes.    

Don't Hang Them on Your Tree!
This is clearly a surname exercise, and can be fun.  But, do not hastily put an unresearched stranger on your family tree, but be open to any genealogical leads.   

Kathleen Brandt


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