In New England towns are more important than counties as genealogical record keepers. So it is useful for genealogy researchers to have maps showing each town and the town’s neighbors in New England, New York, and Canada. FamilySearch Wiki contributors are at work adding maps to the Wiki for each New England county showing its towns. Eventually the maps will be “clickable” so a click on the map will take the reader to the page describing the records of the town that was clicked. See Massachusetts towns for examples of the finished “clickable” maps. So far we have added Wiki maps for:
- Connecticut: 8 county maps with 169 cities or towns
- Massachusetts: 14 county maps with 351 cities or towns
- New Hampshire: 10 county maps with 13 cities, 221 towns, and 24 unorganized townships
- Rhode Island: 5 county maps with 8 cities and 31 towns
- and most of Maine: 12 of 16 county maps with 22 cities, 435 towns, 33 plantations, 424 unorganized townships, and 3 Indian reservations.
Similar Vermont maps might be added in the future.
Fun things I have learned working on maps for the New England states of the Wiki:
- Towns in New England normally keep records; townships in New England normally do not. In a few cases, former towns with a declining population have lost their town status and become unorganized townships. Records of former towns are often sent to a neighboring town.
- Over the years Boston has annexed various previously independent cities. So genealogical records exist prior to annexation, and as part of Boston afterward. Some of the cities annexed by Boston were originally outside Suffolk County.
- A gore is a sparsely populated piece of land often overlooked by surveyors. Other low-population entities such as grants, purchases, and locations show up on some town-level maps but usually have no official record keepers.
- In Maine, a plantation is organized for places on a level between towns and unorganized townships. Many Maine islands are organized as plantations.
- Connecticut no longer has county governments.
- It is surprising how many islands of New England are inhabited, including a town government.
- Louds Island seceded from the town of Bristol, Maine, and the United States about 1860 because the mainlanders allegedly refused to recognize the votes cast by islanders in the 1860 election. Town status was never restored, but they rejoined the Union in the early 1900s.