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Thread: Finding The History - How?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Tampa, FL

    Default Finding The History - How?

    Okay, so I've spent a lot of time in libraries going through microfilm of turn of the century newspaper archives, books, etc, but I don't ever seem to turn up very much on the history I'm looking for. My question: how do you find it? In seeing a specific building or town, how does one go about learning what the place was like 100 years ago? I have no idea how it is even possible to go about finding information about a town that doesn't even exist, anymore!

    For towns that still exist, are there publically accessible records that would be of assistance? Maybe archives the city has and not the library? Photo archives? Do you talk with the residents themselves?

    I'm itching to find out more about the area in which I live and I'm beginning to find out it isn't so easy. Yet, that seems to add to the fun.

  2. #2


    Your best bet is to contact the city commisioner or find out the town's historical society and go that route. Or the county's historical society. Most towns have museums, even if they are one room, and if not, you can try the county/county seat.

    Most places I've found are thrilled to have someone intereted in their history since 95% of the interest here (central FL) is theme parks and subdivisions.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    North central Nevada


    What I do is go to the city/county seat of government and check with the appropriate office (in counties in eastern California and Nevada it is generally called the Recorder's Office). They generally have land, water, court, voting, birth/death, census, records, plus plat maps.
    David A. Wright
    Quote: "Happy Trails To You, Until We Meet Again!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004


    I've always found old maps to be the most helpful, get a hold of a old map out of an atlas or something of that sort that has a scale, then find a new map of the same scale, put them on a light table and start marking the locations, then just plan on spending some time out in the hills....
    Corey Shuman
    aka one_bad_rover or Blke36bimmer

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Thumbs up

    All of the above are good suggestions. In researching ghost towns, you have to remember that records concerning the town may be scarce.

    Contemporary newspapers close to your ghost town may have items of interest. Some newspapers carried news of a regional interest, particularly semi-regular columns for towns or communities in the same county or region.

    County Histories will often have information concerning the towns in their county, often with biographies of leading citizens. For ghost towns these can be invaluable since many of these histories were written in the late 1800s or early 1900s.

    Old Maps can help pinpoint the locations of many old towns, and a succesion of old maps can help in knowing when the town existed.

    Public Libraries, particularly in other towns close by may have a file or files on towns in their area. They are also often repositories for pictures, old maps, county histories, and other materials.

    County Courthouses will often have plat maps of these old towns. The deed records will also record who owned the land around town and when, AND WHO OWNS IT NOW.

    Depending on the towns and how prominent or historical it was, sometimes magazine articles were written about either events in the town, or about the town itself.

    If you are interested in mining ghost towns, old mining magazines are invaluable. They record new mining strikes, and often detail the history and progress of the mines in the area.

    Census records can give information on population and who lived in town at a particular time. Most censuses also list the occupations of those listed on the census.

    Last, but not least, City, County, or State gazetteers or dirctories can be an invauable source. These usually list businesses in each town or village along with misc. information such as stage routes, electicity to the town, telegraph or telephone service. For larger towns or cities every resident may be listed.

    Remember, half of the fun of ghosttowning, is finding out about the town and it's inhabitants, so enjoy the research, and then go and enjoy visiting the ghost town itself.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Arcata, Ca. USA


    Hello all! My hat's off to the crew. This place is a splendid resource. Turns out the place I grew up is in your site. (Guess where that might be?) I've found history of places in the people that grew up in the area. Ask a local that has generations of relatives living there.(buried there.) I reside in Northern Ca. now. I've been to the ruins of old indian villages and researched the history of the Arcata Bottoms and Humboldt Bay. A property owner in Redwood Valley gave me a tour of his 7,000 acre ranch with an interesting history lesson to boot! A popular herd of Roosevelt Elk roam freely there. History is everywhere.

    Actually, I lived on the North Fork of Cougar Creek between Old Taroda and another ghost town (not in your site) named Sheridan in Washington state. It was a mining town around the turn of the (last) century. Who would have ever thought I'd find a picture of my old "driveway" on the Internet! LOL I love this place! Talk about being from the BOONIES, that would be me...And now look, I'm sophistocated! LOL

    Thanks for the site and this forum! GOOD STUFF!!

    Ray, AKA Wauconda Kid.

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