Thursday, December 10, 2009

State-County Tables & My Location Binder (Part 1)

I don't think I have told you yet but I should preface this blog with a warning that I am a little OC. But who isn't in their own way? When it comes to organization, I am a lot OC. That does not mean I am organized, I'm just OC about getting there.

The image you see here is an excerpt of my original Georgia page in Excel from my Location Binder. I somehow brainstormed with myself to come up with the idea for my State - County Tables sometime in 2003. The oldest copy of my State - County Tables that I can find is timestamped October 2003. The Location Binder itself though came from Juliana Smith of Ancestry Archives. I LOVE her work and miss her blog on I think she still does publish but is not regularly every day or every week like she used to be. Actually what I think I found first was one of the Quick Tips then also found Juliana's article. I regress, back to my binder and the tables.

Georgia being my earliest state and still being my most frequented state, I decided early on that I would sooner or later be pretty confused if I continued on as I was. I think at that time, I had only eight counties of interest in Georgia out of 159 counties. I am now up to thirteen counties using columns A through E, I'm not even going to count how many counties I have of interest in columns F & G (I will explain those columns in a later blog).

So, I started out with these tables and was using only columns A through E at that time. Most of this info is self explanatory if you look at the image and it's column headings. Parent county is of course the name of that county as it was before this county was formed.

The Map Grid Coords in column E is specifically for the purpose of finding one of those 146 counties that are not one of my thirteen, I know exactly where they are. The other 146 are not frequently referenced and therefore I needed a grid or I'll be all day trying to find one county. I came to that conclusion after going back and forth from the upper left corner one too many times. I figure over the years, I'll have saved myself a day or two by using the grids. The grids themselves are printed on a separate sheet of transparency and layered on top of the map in a page protector. My state images with the county outlines I download from State & County QuickFacts. If you go to that site, you can either click on the US map to select a state or you can use the drop down on the left side to select a state. After selecting your specific state you can click the link in the upper left corner STATENAME ie Georgia counties - selection map. That's where you'll find the map image of counties for that state. One reason that I use their maps is that I won't have any issue with copyrights. Another reason is that the images are already about a full size page without resizing and last because that they are already pretty much to scale from each other. I will regress a little bit and quickly show you another way that I use the QuickFacts site. I recently found some new deceased HARGROVE family members born in Gainesville, Alabama. What county is Gainesville in? Go back to the QuickFacts homepage, select the State of Alabama, click the drop down for Select a City. Gainesville is not listed there because it is not one of the larger Alabama cities. So click place search right above that drop down and you will be able to type in Gainesville and the page will show you that Gainesville is in Sumter County. You can clearly see that there is a lot more information on the QuickFacts site than what I've just shown you but that is primarily what I use the site for.

Back to my tables. I gathered the facts for the table from various sources, including the Handy Book For Genealogists and the Red Book. I also used the site. Listing all of the Georgia counties in alpha order took four pages. I think I'm not going to do that again. I think it is a good idea that I did all of the Georgia counties, but the others, as I come to need them are very sporadic. ie I have found one of my slave owner families migrated through South Carolina. But I have them in only one SC county so far. I do also have one of my great grandfathers, Richard DUNCAN, born in SC. But in 1870 he was in Georgia, so I may never know where in SC he came from. That being said, I am using one line entry for SC so I'm not going to line by line add these to a table for 43 counties including the one county and six districts that no longer exist.

So having completed my four Georgia county pages, I decided to colorize them since I color code everything else. For my Georgia counties that was an easy task. I will explain later how when I worked on Alabama, that became much more difficult. Simple explanation for now is that none of my ancestor family lines repeated or competed in any county that I have found so far.

One day I took my completed and colored charts with me to the Family History Center where I volunteer once a week and showed them to one of the more experienced consultants. Patrick is an amazing guy! His knowledge of this and that would literally daze you. I took them to Pat to ask his opinion about turning my pages sideways in landscape vs right side up in portrait. I knew at sometime or another I would have more info to add to each line entry and wanted to be prepared and have room for whatever this other info might be. His suggestion was to leave them in portrait and that Kinko's, Office Depot and the like could print them for me in 11 X 17 size also called Ledger or Tabloid size. Turns out that Pat was right again. My tables are now three letter size pages wide. I did go to Kinko's, Office Depot and Staples to price their printing my tabloid pages. All of them are within five cents of the same price =<$1.79 single side in color. In the meantime, while I experimented with the add on pages that made the 2nd and 3rd width, I simply printed them in black and white, then used scrap booking tape to glue them together. After that I used highlighters to colorize. Again, I'm not sure I'm going to go through all this for states other than Georgia. I have since found an very inexpensive place to print tabloid pages. I first heard of Stevenson's Genealogy Center from another coworker at the Family History Center. This coworker was a student at Brigham Young University years ago and remembers that Stevenson's Genealogy Center is a staple around the BYU campus. Stevenson's has a copy center and their tabloid printing in color on 28 lb paper is 99 cents!

Next I'll blog more about the rest of my State - County Tables and finally will finish with what's in the rest of my Location Binder.
Stay tuned for Part 2. Heck, this baby may even get a Part 3.


  1. I so want to be you when I grow up and get my office organized. You have even guilted me into actually filing a few papers away this evening!

    What I great research tool you have made for yourself. You should consider finishing it off for all the counties in your state and sell it - you'd make a fortune!
    Sheri Fenley

  2. As a fellow Georgia researcher, what a great tool. My goal for the remainder of this year and the beginning of next is to get all of my genealogy materials / research back to an organized state.