My Ancestral Town Disappeared From the Map!

Tracing Your Roots: Where to look when there’s no trace online of the town from where your family says it originated.

Map of Southeast North America, 1638
Map of Southeast North America, 1638 Thinkstock

“I have been researching my genealogy since 1996. This year, I discovered the names of my grandmother’s grandparents. However, their birthplace is proving to be a mystery. It is listed as Hacot Eurville, Ga. I have searched the Web for information about this place and find nothing. My grandmother and her parents lived in Lowndes County, Ga., and Hamilton County, Fla., so I suspect Hacot Eurville, Ga., may have been a community located in or near Lowndes County that is now extinct. Can you help me solve this mystery, please?” —Sam Henry

Occasionally, when researching your family’s history, one can stumble upon a place that can’t easily be found on today’s maps. There are a few reasons why this happens: Maybe the place was a small unincorporated community that is no longer populated, or perhaps the name of the location changed over time to something else. It is also important to consider the possibility that the name of the location was written or transcribed incorrectly in the records or indexes that you are researching.

Here are a few tips to consider when you find a place name that you don’t recognize in your research.

Using Historic Maps and Atlases

As with most genealogical research, the more records you find for your ancestors, the easier it will be to build a timeline of their life and determine where they were living at a particular time. From your own research you know that your ancestors lived mostly in Lowndes County, Ga., and Hamilton County, Fla. Knowing this, you will want to begin your search for Hacot Eurville around Lowndes County, but be open to the possibility that it may be located elsewhere in Georgia.

Historic maps and atlases are good sources of information to find names of places that once existed but are generally not found today. Local libraries and historical societies typically have some historic maps and atlases that can be used for reference, but if you are researching from a distance, there are also many sources online.

The website Historic Map Works has a variety of historic maps and atlases that are free to view online and download for a fee. Then there are local resources, such as the Digital Library of Georgia, which has a wide collection of historic maps and atlases for the State of Georgia, including maps of Lowndes County.

As you search, consider the year that the record was recorded. The record you provided to us shows that your ancestor, Mose Whitfield, was born approximately in 1861, and he died in 1933. Given this, you’ll want to search maps for those years and any you can find for the years in between.

We did a quick search of some historic maps of Lowndes County, and although we were unable to find any places named Hacot Eurville, we did find that there were many places that ended with the suffix “ville,” including Franklinville, Troupville and Clayattsville. Maybe one of these is where your forebears were born.