Today's topic is gazetteers. The word gazetteer is a charming old one that does not seem to have much meaning for most people. Gazetteers are maps with a whole lot more data. The first gazetteers probably appeared before the first century b.c. Early gazetteers were maps that focused on sources of local pride.
I love gazetteers and have several. They are reasonably priced and genealogists don’t need to shy away from buying used ones since we are not as interested in what is new. I don’t hesitate to scribble on my gazetteers marking the local sources of pride as they relate to my family. I color code them according to where my family lived and worked. I use them to mark “lost” graveyards.
The newer editions include GPS. I use GPS to find these lost graveyards and the old family farms. But I like jotting notes on a print copy of the GPS.
As a genealogist I use them for so much more than maps! Of course, if you do travel to do genealogical research it is fun to know what there is to do along the way. Many of those “things to do” are related to your family’s history as well.
So what is unique about the gazetteers? All of the above. But let me point out what’s unique about my favorite gazetteers and you’ll probably see why you want them.
My personal favorite are the DeLorme gazetteers. The cover price is usually around $19.00. Used, should be less, not more, unless you are shopping for an atlas from the 1850’s!The Arkansas Gazetteer gazetteer includes an extensive list of place names including mountains. There is a guide to travel information including float trips and where to find crystal mines.
The Colorado Gazetteer includes everything from an index to populated places to lists of 14ers – 56 peaks that are taller than 14,000 feet! There is a guide to dozens of mountain passes best travelled by four-wheel drive. It includes a publicly owned lands locator map. If fishing is your passion, you will love this gazetteer’s guide to Gold Medal Streams. I am seldom without my gazetteer. It is SO much better than a map and the DeLorme gazetteers are GPS compliant!
The Connecticut & Rhode Island Gazetteer includes an index of place names and map features. Plus you will find a guide to ten Newport mansions and detailed city maps.
Maybe it is just my imagination, but the Florida Gazetteer seems to feature larger print. It offers an index to 160 beaches, pari mutuels, baseball spring training camps and an extensive list of springs. The info guide alone is more than two dozen pages!
More than two-thirds of Idaho is publicly owned land. The Idaho Gazetteer includes a two-page map showing some of the unique aspects of Idaho such as the location of Indian reservations and bombing ranges. There is an index of populated place names. Nice, detailed maps.
A traveler’s treasure, the Indiana Gazetteer provides an extensive list of covered bridges along with a list of everything from wineries to an Amish Country guide. Whether you are looking for a heritage trail, a battleground guide, a tour of Wilbur Wright’s home place, or directions to the utopian New Harmony, you will want to keep this gazetteer handy!
If you are a fan of “The Bridges of Madison County,” set in Madison County, Iowa, then you will be thrilled to find that the Iowa Gazetteer includes a list of covered bridges in Iowa! You will also find a guide to seven historic districts throughout the state. This gazetteer includes an index of place names and map features.
Use this wonderful Kansas Gazetteer to find historic walking tours and a guide to historic Kansas forts! This gazetteer includes an index of place names and map features.
You will never run out of destinations or things to do with Kentucky Gazetteer. You will find a list of ten mansions, cities with historic districts, covered bridges, distilleries, and caves! There is a full page of Kentucky hiking trail descriptions. This gazetteer includes an index of place names and map features.
The Michigan Gazetteer includes an index of place names and map features, with information about more than 100 Great Lakes beaches, gardens, wineries, museums and science centers. Use it as your guide to more than three dozen shipwrecks at four different sites. You will also find a four-column page filled with information about Michigan waterfalls.
The Minnesota Gazetteer includes an index of place names and map features plus a guide to Minnesota Mining (3M) tourist sites. You will also find guides to gardens and arboretums. For the hardier traveler, there is a guide to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness “for experienced canoeists,” and even a guide to seaplane bases!
The Missouri Gazetteer is a great gazetteer with guides to six Harry S. Truman Sites throughout Missouri, plus a winery guide. There is a special guide to Branson highlights.
The Montana Gazetteer includes a locator guide to 28 million acres of federally owned lands with descriptions and a guide to recreation activities. There is also information about seven Indian reservations. You will also find a guide to Glacier National Park with a list of “Bear Encounter” rules!
Every state is unique. Here in the North Dakota Gazetteer you will find an index of place names and map features. You will also find a guide to five casinos and Indian reservations and tribal lands.
The Texas Gazetteer is probably the largest volume in DeLorme’s collection of gazetteers, and the most extensive. This huge gazetteer includes numerous city maps. There is a detailed list of place names and physical features listing historic forts, missions, and caverns.
The West Virginia Gazetteer includes an index of place names and map features, plus a list of glassmakers, wineries, and covered bridges in West Virginia!
The Wisconsin Gazetteer is great for locating 19th century lighthouses, waterfalls, or ancient Indian mound cultures from 3000 B.C. to 1500 a.d. You will also find a guide to cheesemaker, brewery, winery, and paper manufacturing tours. Take a ferry or boat trip or opt for a Rustic Roads scenic drive. These drives are part of a quarter-century old project with side trips down dirt, gravel, and paved roads far from the hectic interstates.
The Wyoming Gazetteer is a great vacation guide with lists of annual events, dude and guest ranches, historic forts and trails. If hunting is your passion, you’ll find a special guide to locating partride, grouse, turkey, black bear, elk, moose, and antelope. There is a special guide to Yellowstone and 18 miliion acres of Bureau of Land Management public lands.