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.
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!!