Visit your Ancestor's Birthplace or Hometown with Online Maps.
Discovering Your Ancestors is a Treasure Hunt
All I knew about one of my Grandma's was little bits and bobs that I remembered from what relatives said, and now most of those relatives are gone. The few cousins that were left knew very little about her, and none of us knew the names of her parents, our great-grandparents.
I remembered my Uncle Fred said that I had a famous Canadian relative, and. I did finally find some information in Canadian Biography that revealed much about the person, but still I would not be able to connect to him without knowing my Grandma's heritage.
Her birthplace was a town that had changed names several times, and after much searching I finally found some clues at Familysearch.org, the Mormon website that is free. My sister and I were screaming and jumping up and down, when we finally had a hit with some cross-referenced information that proved to be true and matched up.
Ancestry.com is Cheaper by the Month
Thus, began my foray in the ancestry.com world. This website is great and can be used in a way that won't break your budget. I buy it when I have extra time and then remember to turn it off before they charge me for the next month. I am now addicted and can spend hours on the computer, searching in many different ways to glean one little bit of information, my imagination running wild into the back words of Canada in the 1800's or on a trip with my Great-grandfather to New Zealand in 1930. It is so real when you see their names on passenger list of a ship, with the date they traveled, where they landed, and how many stops they made.
Click the person icon and drag to street to see actual pictures at street level at different angles.
Google Maps are Like a Travel Vacation
Now to the wonderful world of online maps today. After reading an article on visiting your ancestor's town, taking pictures of their residences, and visiting cemeteries, and gravestones, my head exploded. What about the maps online where you can walk on the street!
I immediately looked up an address I had just found on my mother's birth certificate. I was thinking she was born at a house because it was just a plain address; it didn't say hospital or anything, and it was a long time ago. I entered it and found it was a street I could go right from my computer to satellite to the street where she lived, and the house in which she was born. It had to be. The age was right. Oh, I perused that house from all angles that day, and when I realized how many other places there were to discover, I was overwhelmed.
I walked by the church in Canada where my great-great grandfather was pastor. I visited the building that housed the butcher shop my relatives owned in the early 1900's, and the huge house that my rich relatives were lucky or hard-working enough to own that sat on the bank of the Mississippi.
Remember Place Names May Change Over Time
So, if travel is not in your future, it is still a treat to search out and discover the routes and residences of your people. Names of roads and towns do change so be vigilant, and do cross-reference. Records occasionally get misspelled by census takers or others who have recorded the past. Sometimes there simply is more than one spelling. When you see with your own eyes, the streets of your ancestors, or more special, the house and the window that they peeked from as a child, an instant connection to the past is created and the emotional reward is a heartfelt treasure.