Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Those Places Thursday: Mapping my Family in Marion County, Alabama

I love maps!! Just about as much as I love military pension files. It's so much fun to see where my family lived as well as their migration paths. With Google Maps, you can even see beautiful satellite views of where your folks once resided.

The other day, I was messing around in, and found that they've recently made available some amazing plat maps in 12 states, including Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma and Oregon. Plat maps are like candy to a genealogist -- these are the maps that show the exact parcels of land that our ancestors may have owned at a given point in time. I delved into the collection and almost immediately came up with the 1859 plat maps for Townships 12 and 13 in Marion County, Alabama -- right in and around the little town of Sulligent, where a good portion of my Sandlin, Turman and Noe ancestors lived during that time. (Note: as county lines were shifted over time, this part of Marion County eventually became Lamar County).

I've known for a long time that these families resided near each other for years because I consistently see them on the same pages as each other in the US Census documents. They also intermarried quite a bit, and stuck very close to each other. I didn't realize just how close, though, until I was able to view them on the land ownership -- or, plat -- maps for Marion County, Alabama. Here are the two maps, for Range 15, Townships 12 & 13. The Sandlin, Turman and Noe families straddled both maps -- they are at the very bottom of Township 12, and throughout the top half of Township 13 -- above the Buttahatchee River (no fart jokes, please!!).
Marion County, Range 15, Township 12
Marion County, Range 15, Township 13
Here, I've stitched the two maps together, zoomed in a bit, and color coded the land that each of the families owned: Noe is coded as Green, Sandlin is Blue and Turman is Red. By the way, you can click on each map to view it larger (and zoom in to see details).
Three of my 5th great grandfathers, Jesse Littleton Sandlin (1801-1863), Milton Anderson Turman (1802-1890) and Thomas R. Noe (1806-1867), are represented on this map. One of the great things about these maps is that they also included the land patent numbers that were granted when each of these families purchased their land. For example, here's the land patent document (#30112) for my 4th great grand uncle, H. Littleton Sandlin. Can you find his parcel of land on the map, above?

OK, one more map for you to check out. This one is a satellite map I found on Google Maps, and it shows what the area looks like today. Beautiful, isn't it? One of the coolest parts of this map is that it points out two important cemeteries in my family: the Sandlin Cemetery, where Jesse Littleton and Mary Nabors Sandlin are buried, and Pine Springs Cemetery, where my 5th great grandparents, Thomas R. and Mary Fitzgerald Noe, were buried after they were murdered together in their home in 1867.
Can you see the Buttahatchee River winding its way below
Lost Creek Road/County Road 35?
Plat maps and land patent documents are getting easier to find online. I've found a ton of land patent documents at the Bureau of Land Management's website. I have to dig a little harder to unearth plat maps (Google is my friend), and I'm thrilled that Ancestry is making it easier for us to find these gems that help us to tell our families' stories.

I hope you enjoyed this little "tour" of my ancestors' homeland in Marion County, Alabama!


  1. I've gotta check this out - hope some of my guys are on the Alabama and Oklahoma maps - thanks for the tip!

  2. I've got a map book like this for Walker and Fayette counties and I just love it. It is so much easier to see where our families lived and it makes sense that they married their neighbors.

  3. Beautiful work! I've got to get myself up to speed on Google and platting land records. This is amazing.

  4. Thanks, Susan. It's really fun when things fall into place. =)

  5. Great post! I love the way you stitched the plat maps together and color-coded your family parcels.

  6. Wendy, Great job! I see you are living in San Francisco. I went to Mission High School my junior year before I left home and returned to Missouri. I graduated HS at North Kansas City High in 1960. I have a lot of information on the Britain line gathered while I was living in Redding CA. I have since retired (Pacific Bell 33 years) and have moved to Pawhuska, OK where I ranch in Osage County. One correction I would offer in your narrative. Samuel and Uriah (my line)4th GG were sons of Joseph and Elizabeth and not his brothers. Keep up the good work. I hope to colaborate with you at some point.

    Victor David Rooks