Names of places have changed over the years, which is a challenge for many family historians.
“To know what went on in your ancestor’s life, you need to know the setting of where they lived,” said Bessida White, president of Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Virginia. “In all likelihood, what was going on in King and Queen County Virginia was very different than what was going on day-to-day in Cecil (County) Maryland.”
To address this problem, the Middle Peninsula African-American Genealogical and Historical Society of Virginia is starting a Historical Place Names Project, which will be discussed at its monthly meeting.
White said her group decided to start the project because many people researching family history find locations that no longer go by the names listed in historical documents.
“We hear from people all over who may be going off oral history or something in a family bible, that so and so was born in Ozeana, Virginia,” White said. “Well, where on earth is that? So thereby, the need to know old place names.”
She said her group is asking the community to come out and share old place names that they have encountered in their research.
“For example, one of our members is the ultimate authority on King William County,” White said. “Well recently, he found a document someone put together in the early 20th century listing those historic place names in King William County, and there were places he never heard of.”
White said all this information will help her group create a section on its website devoted to historical place names.
“It will be on our website so family historians, wherever they are, can access that, and learn about the places their ancestors lived,” White said.
For now, the project will focus on the counties of King and Queen, King William, Middlesex and Essex, however, White said other locales will be added in the future.
Want to go?
11 a.m. April 13 at Essex Public Library, 117 North Church Lane, Tappahannock. For more information, call 758-5163 or visit mpaagenealogicalsociety.org.