As I have studied the land records of my families in Michigan, I have used a variety of maps and resources to be sure I know the location of each piece of property. I have likewise used multiple resources to visit homes, cemeteries, libraries and other research locations. Many of these are familiar, but perhaps some will be new and helpful.
Here are some resources you may find helpful. First, for Michigan:
- A set of county maps from Michigan State University. These maps are PDF format and downloadable. There are zip code maps, transportation maps, hydrology maps, current census district maps, land use maps level 1 and level 2, and my favorite, the (MCD) Minor Civil Division maps which show cities, villages, towns and townships including the township and range number. I use these all the time and find them very valuable.
- Michigan subdivision plats. When a deed says, “assessor plat No. 1″, or “Mr. So-and-so’s” 2nd addition to the city of Podunk”, this is your site. Search by county, or enter the name of the plat or subdivision. A great resource! (My disclaimer, added October 30, 2009: I don’t know what happened to Michigan’s website with this data. I know the link on the State page is not working right now. I hope it will work again soon.)
- Michigan County Histories and Atlases. Click the subject link, and enter your county. There are historic atlas as of many Michigan counties on this site. Be sure to browse and search the histories of the counties your ancestors lived in while you are here.
- Be sure to find the website of the Michigan county your family resided in. Some counties have free downloadable or usable “Base Maps” or “Standard Maps”, with helpful information. There are also maps which require a subscription, or purchase, but take your time and you may find some gems. As an example, check what I found for Oakland County, and Wexford County. Some cities also offer this service, just look around websites of governmental units in your target area.
Now, for good measure, some map and map related sites that can be used for Michigan, and other areas, too.
- The United States Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). All things geographic. Find cemeteries, mountains, just about anything but your ancestor on this site.
- USGenWeb Project, United States Digital Map Library. You never know what you will find here.
- National Atlas Dot Gov. : This huge site is a resource for all things map in the United States. There is a primer on the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), and a large group of maps for many purposes.
- The Newberry Library interactive maps. Historical boundaries, cool overlays, useful.
- David Rumsey map collection. A variety of maps, and worth a look.
- Earth Point tools for Google Earth. A high tech solution for finding township and range locations in Google Earth. I listed the last because it is a subscription service. However, you can test drive it, and one subscription option is very reasonable.
Next time, I outline a plan to make my deed transcriptions available to interested researchers. I will also continue to describe what I have learned from deed records.