County Histories: What’s In Them?

If you haven’t used a county history or found your ancestors in one, I encourage you to look. Later in this series we will get to some search and locating techniques. Let’s discuss what you might expect to find in a county history.

Many county histories have two parts, even if they are not formally called out. Generally speaking, there is the part that discusses the history of the county, of the place, itself. This section will contain information on topics such as: early geography, geology, Native American tribes in the area, early settlers, the first towns in that county, the first government officials, the first churches, schools, and so on.

Table of Contents from the Wood County, Ohio county history.

From the table of contents for the history from Wood County, Ohio, you can see several topics just from this one section of the page that would be of interest to genealogists: newspapers, medicine, military, churches, schools, early pioneers, agricultural societies, etc.

You might find more modern publications such as Patterns and Pieces from Lyme, New Hampshire. As you can see, many similar topics are included.

Title page from Patterns and Pieces.

Then there is the second section, the section with the biographical sketches of our ancestors. These biographical sketches usually followed a male and his lineage back to the immigrant ancestor. Sometimes you will also get a lineage from his wife back to her immigrant ancestor, usually along her father’s line. If you are lucky, you might find a photograph or a sketch of your ancestor (I have not been that lucky yet.)

Next time, we will look at one of my favorite biographical sketches.

1 thought on “County Histories: What’s In Them?

  1. Love these old county histories! Many of my hubby’s midwestern ancestors are mentioned or profiled. Not all info is accurate, but clues are great to follow up.

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