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Over the years the names of counties have changed.  I am wondering as to whether I should input present day info or info that reflects the year of event.


for example:

1851, Nichol Township, Wellington County, Ontario

       - in 1851 Ontario was Canada West 

       - so should it be Nichol Township, Wellington County, Canada West



1832, Nichol Township, Wellington County, Ontario

       - in 1832 Wellington County did not exist  it would have been Western District and I have not idea if Nichol Township existed.  And Ontario was known as Upper Canada.


Any thoughts.  What would you do?


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I put in the place as it was. So, if it were the 1890 Oklahoma Territory, I put it OK Terr. In the case where I found my BROCK folks in the 1880's in Alturas Co., ID, I still put that it was a tax record for Alturas Co., ID and then in my notes indicate that the county no longer exists. That way I know what area I should be looking for records. That's the way I do it, but that's just the way my brain thinks. Some folks have put what it used to be and then in parenthesis the new county, and/or state. So it looks like Hailey, Alturas Co., (now Blaine Co.), ID.
Jen if you work in you cannot use symbols, dashes or parenthesis. New family search does not like them. (now Blaine Co.),ID would not work.
Okay, well, I don't... and the trees I've imported have accepted these locations.
I like the idea of using placename as in was and making note that it no longer exits or now called such and such. Thanks
If it were in the US, I would always use the county that was in place at the time of the event. This will help in finding records. However, in your case, there were no civil records in 1832 [Ontario]. I don't think they started until 1865. And then they were very sketchy for another 10 years or so. I think the only hope of finding records would be in a local church in what is now Nichol Twp. I have a lot of events in Ontario and most of the time I record the area that was in place shortly after the event that describes the actual area. In your case, Nichol Twp. Then in later years many of the counties combined into joint counties, like Russell-Prescott, or Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry. I don't use SD&G, I record the single county where the event took place. I personally never use Upper Canada. Knowing that it was Ontario, that is what I enter.
I would use 1832 [or 1851], Nichol Township [or simply Twp], Wellington, Ontario, Canada. In western Provinces where there are no counties, I use a comma place holder but leave it blank; Calgary, , Alberta, Canada.
If I was recording census records, then I would use what was entered on the page by the enumerator, i.e. Upper Canada.
Just my two cents worth.
I use the same system that Rob uses. However, while western Canada may not have counties, they utilize Rural Municipalities. As an example my birth record shows that I was born in the Red Cross Hospital, Tuberose, R.M. of Lacadena, Sask. Today the hospital and the Village are totally gone. In some Google maps the location of Tuberose is shown with an arrow, but the townsite is farmed. As with Tuberose, many Sask. places have disappeared off the map but they still have a location. The Archivers Canada site has a data base for all post offices that ever existed in the province and from these you can find the quarter, section, Twp., range and merridian where they once were. Not to mention all the postmaster (postmistresses) and their period of emplyment.
I have ancestors and proably relatives living in Manitoba westward and for any location out that way I just input town/municipality/province. I tried to location on a map the exact stop but all those quarter, section, range, meridan confused me. But I'm going to have to take a better look in the Archives of Canada site. Thanks.
Yea, no easy doing searchs when there is no records to be found. Entering locations as to time of events or as recorded on records, is a good idea also. Thanks.
I believe that Rob Rowe's method would be more universally acceptable. South Africa has come through a number of changes over the centuries as have numerous other countries; Australia ,Germany, Austria and Hungary spring to mind. It is more logical to use the Counties, Provinces or States as they were when the event took place than to use the current ones. We all know that things change with time, particularly when politics are involved!
Right or wrong, I record the info that reflects the year of event AND then I add another entry that reflects info as of the date I entered the data. Then, in the geographical section, I enter see such-and-such a location) That way I have tied the same location (with two names) together.

For instance, at the beginning of the Gold Rush, a small town grew up in the Siskiyou Mountains/Trinity Alps of Northern California, USA, called Rough and Ready. Now it is called Etna. So my geographical entries reflect this information as follows:

First entry reads 'Rough and Ready, California, USA (see Etna, Siskiyou County, California)'. This entry because that's what the location was called when my GUncle lived there.

Second entry reads 'Etna, Siskiyou County, California, USA (see Rough and Ready, California). This entry because that's what the location was called when my GGrandfather lived there.

You will note that no county is given in the first entry because Siskiyou County did not exist when Rough and Ready did. Then, in the second entry you will note that Siskiyou County did exist when Etna did.

I do not stop there. In the comments (in the Family Section of Legacy) I enter information which states that there was no county when Rough and Ready existed and that later, the Rough and Ready name changed to Etna and that Siskiyou County was established in the year "XXXX". Now, if Siskiyou County was not the original county, but was established from another, larger county, then I also include this information as well, i.e., Siskiyou County was taken out of "such-and-such a county in the year "XXXX".

Another example would be Silforton, Devonshire, England. Sometime after 1719, the name Silforton changed to Silverton. Following the above example, I noted this information for my ancestors who migrated from Silforton, Devonshire, England, to Maryland, British North American Colonies in 1719.

I've done the same thing for my ancestors who left England, lived in Canada for a time, then migrated into the United States in the 1800s. I've found that it can get kind of tricky at times, to record this information. But, I take it one step at a time until I feel I've adequately/correctly recorded the information. As you can see, I tend to exercise over-kill in favor of leaving an information paper trail for others to follow :). Once it's done, though, it sure makes it easier and I don't have to keep repeating the information entries.

Recording the names of the indian settlements/villages, where another line of my family comes from, follows the same logic, i.e. the first entry records the indigenous name, followed by an entry which records the Canadian name or American name that was given to the same location.

My Mongol/Chinese lines offer more of a challenge, but I follow the same logic in recording place names.

The tricky part I referred to above came when the location my Slavik ancestors came from had several different names. The name for the location kept changing as first the Mongols captured that territory, then the Ottomans got it, then again when the Hungarians recaptured it, then again, when the Germans captured it, then again, when the Russians/Soviets took it. Each time the map was rewritten, after each war, there was a different name for the same location, depending on who's map one refers to.

It would be nice if Legacy built this location name-change information into their program. It would be a huge undertaking and require constant updating because of all the wars as territory changes hands! But... so very convenient for those of us who use their program :). One person could make a career out of this project. I volunteer to do the research :) !!

I hope this helps and doesn't make your quest worse!. I could go on with various examples, but you get the idea. If you want to discuss this further, contact me at I'm always glad to assist in appreciation to all those who have so generously helped me in the past.

Isn't genealogical research fun? I enjoy the challenge.

Cheers and Happy hunting!



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