Confusing Locations Solved
by Vicki Ruthe Hahn
July 3, 2017
I hope you are having as much fun doing genealogy this July 4th Weekend as I am.
This is something I discovered lately that sure helped me solve some confusing and conflicting references to locations. There are several locations in my Illinois families, (and my Pennsylvania families) that I know are the same places. Yet they are referred to by several different names in different citations. It was not even the usual – “location names change with time.”
Those who live on farms often refer to themselves as living “in” the nearest town. For instance, my Illinois families consistently said they lived in Table Grove, Illinois even though it was 3 miles from their farms. (And then some moved to the town!)
To confuse matters more, I figured out that many locations have four levels of names. Not just the township or city, county, and state, but another local level of a unique name for a specific area in a township. People from there refer interchangeably to only one, or the other, of the two lowest location levels.
Neither Pennington Point, New Salem Township, McDonough, Illinois nor Foster Point, Eldorado Township, McDonough, Illinois were towns. They were just names given to communities of farms that had a church and a one-room schoolhouse in them.
My family’s Illinois records would irregularly refer to either Pennington Point or New Salem; or to Foster Point or Eldorado. I am finding the same variable references to locations for my Pennsylvania families.
Looking at a good local map helps to see these tiny niche names.