View Full Version : Idea to help everyone trying to find Ghost Towns

07-29-2012, 06:08 AM
Please give me your opinion about this.

I research U.S. Censuses all of the time. You probably are aware of a constant problem for genealogical researchers. Most websites that offer access to census images, such as FamilySearch.org, Fold3.com, Archives.com, Ancestry.com, etc., in their TEXTUAL description of the area description of the particular census, they show the State, the County (or Parish), sometimes a “Beat” number or “Ward” number or “District” name.

But when one looks at the census image itself, one can also see the name of the POST OFFICE. I have yet to find any website that lets one see the name of the POST OFFICE in the TEXTUAL portion, without actually looking at the image, and one cannot SEARCH for the POST OFFICE name anywhere on the site.

ALL of those websites should place the name of the POST OFFICE, when available, in the textual description that one sees PRIOR to looking at the image. It would help genealogists tremendously, to narrow down the chase.

ALSO, another frequent problem when dealing with these POST OFFICE names on old censuses: many of the names do not exist anymore; they do not show on a map; they only show up in forums or in old books/gazetteers, etc.

Someone needs to do a comprehensive study of ALL old post offices listed on ALL U.S. censuses and put them in a database and make them available, if even for a small paid subscription. It would be worth it. If they could say something like,

”Now a ghost town, Calloway was on Calloway Hill, near Farm Road 49 some ten miles west of Gilmer, Texas; find Johnson's Chapel for a landmark” (or something to that effect). Then, if they could go so far as to display the ACCURATE latitude and longitude of the old town, all one would have to do is input same on Google maps and immediately see where PRESENT DAY Calloway is with respect to whatever is there now. Sometimes one finds an old cemetery or church at that point; sometimes nothing at all, like is in the case of one I was trying to find recently: Halifax, Texas, about halfway between Lufkin and Livingston. As far as I have been able to determine, there is NOTHING left there to identify the old town, which in its heyday hosted a horse racing track, saloons, shops, etc. Even an hour of close searching with Google Earth gave me no clue. Currently I have a friend down there who is looking for some old timer who might remember something about it.

This problem is getting to be more and more frequent, especially in remote rural areas that were never close to any major metropolitan area. I am sure I am not alone with a high frustration level among genealogists.

Do you think a group of private citizens could collaborate and to this together, or do you think the U.S. Census Bureau should foot the bill, or should the private companies that operate those websites pay for it? To accomplish this for all U.S. Censuses would be a gargantuan task, but the end results would benefit thousands more people than just genealogists. Just think of what YOU could do with this information!