18 May 2010

Mapping Eastern Kentucky

compiled by
Teresa Martin Klaiber 2010

As the blog description states "as research crosses my desk" this includes emails that pop in and out for genealogy consultations. The other day I was asked if Fleming County was part of Eastern Kentucky.

It reminded me of a discussion a few years ago when the Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society newsletter editor changed hands. The new editor created a map and list that is produced in the Tree Shaker each time it goes to print. In his compilation he included Mason County which lays northwest of Fleming County but did not include Fleming County.

Mason County was a parent county of Greenup so it is easy to understand why he included it in the list. Lewis County is also included in the Tree Shaker list of Eastern Kentucky. Lewis County was also formed from Mason County. Then again Fleming County was formed from Mason which is not included in the list. You have to draw the line somewhere. The line. Hmmmm.

What is the line, you ask? There are five distinct regions in Kentucky. We have the Jackson Purchase in western Kentucky, The Western Coal Field, The Mississippi Plateau better known as the Pennyroyal, the Bluegrass region and the Eastern Coal Fields aka the Cumberland Plateau. We who live here simply call this region Eastern Kentucky. Or if you are like me, simply God's Country.

If you do a Google map search you will find many physiography maps showing the regions of Kentucky. You will immediately notice that Mason and Fleming County are actually in the Bluegrass region. Eastern Kentucky, as defined by county lines today stops at the western border of Rowan County and midway into Lewis County. So now we have an ahaa moment. The editor included Mason County as the parent County and Lewis because it is partially in Eastern Kentucky and partially in the Bluegrass region.

Fleming county has been excluded because its boundaries, while a portion of Mason originally was never in Eastern Kentucky. Mason has been included because its boundaries originally did include portions of Eastern Kentucky.

But doing genealogical research involves time lines. In 1780 Eastern Kentucky was made up almost entirely by Fayette County while a small portion of south Eastern Kentucky records were filed in Lincoln County. By 1786 Bourbon County boundaries included Eastern Kentucky and Fayette boundaries had been pushed into the Bluegrass. It was not until three years later that Mason pushed the Bourbon line westward. But even then portions of Bourbon, Lincoln and even Madison fell over into southern areas of eastern Kentucky.

Genealogy can not be accomplished properly without historical maps. I have worn out several copies of The Handybook For Genealogists, have utilized a nifty computer program called Animap, have drawers and drawers of historical pieces and parts of maps and would be lost without the US Interior Geological Survey maps. By the way Geological Survey maps also have a history and change so you should try to locate older versions of them as well.

I am sure the pioneers of Fleming County did not know where the regional line was drawn. They traveled and moved around like everyone else in this grand country of ours. Depending on the time line and the county line and state lines we each need to follow the journey of our individual ancestors carefully so we don't fall over a trip line.

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