Monday, February 21, 2011

Mappy Monday: Milton Price Brittain in 1874, Keokuk County, Iowa

One of these days I'm going to win the lottery, buy an Airstream trailer and a sweet ride with which to tow it, and then take off on a grand tour of all of the places where my ancestors settled and lived. That's my dream, anyway! Until then, I'm on the hunt for historical maps that show exactly where my ancestors resided during their lives. Since a lot of my ancestors were farmers and land owners, I've been able to dig up some amazing plat maps that detail exact location of my ancestors' land, by name, and even how much land they owned.

What are plat maps? Creating plat maps was an important step in the process incorporating towns and cities according to US law. Plat maps are drawn to scale, showing the divisions of land, road designations and other zoning concerns. Historical land maps can be gold for a genealogist because they often name the owners of the parcels of land that have been designated on the map. You can find these maps in many places on the Internet, but a great place to start is the Bureau of Land Management web site.

Here's an 1874 plat map from Steady Run Township in Keokuk County, Iowa, that shows the land that was owned by my GGG grandfather, Milton Price Brittain. This was before he and his family headed south to Indian Territory, most likely around the time of the Oklahoma land grabs of the 1890s.

Keokuk County Atlas, 1874. M. P. Brittain is about 2/3 down the map, along the left border.
You can click on the map to view a larger version and zoom in.
Here's a close up shot of Milton Price Brittain's land. You can see from the map that he owned 380 acres and was surrounded by much smaller farms. It looks like my GGG grandfather and his family were doing pretty well during that time of his life.

As I look at the census documents from around that time, I can also see some of the same names there that I find on this plat map. You can often find other members of the same family nearby on plat maps, as well as names of family that show up in your ancestors' various documents, such as family histories, wills, marriage records, etc.

I'm still on the hunt for more plat maps as I continue my family history journey because the maps help to tell the grand stories of my ancestors. I'll be sure to share with you what I find!

I just found a United States Land Record from 1849 that shows Milton Price Brittain buying 40 acres of the parcel of land that is shown in the above map. Here's the record. What a great find!!


  1. Wendy,
    If you look at Benton Twp map, you will see the Sanchez-Tereso families. F. Sanchez-Tereso is Jacob Frederick, Matilda Brittain's husband. Benton and Steady Run Twp are next to each other and it looks like if you match them up, they lived very close to one another!

  2. Ooooh! Thanks for letting me know, Jen. I'll go and check that out. What a great discovery!