Any Historical Kentucky Map can indicate who owned specific property in the state and which towns held the county seat at the time. This information is a valuable starting point for your research pointing you to the right location of records.
Solving Research Problems with a Kentucky Maps – If you have started your family research, you might have experienced trouble with trying to identify Kentucky city borders and names that have changed over the course of time. This can make it difficult to understand where your ancestors’ information is kept.
Because Kentucky historic maps were usually commissioned by the county seat, they often display information about the county, including town names. Reading a Kentucky map from the time period you are researching can help tremendously in solving these problems by leading you to the correct town records. It can also give you other leads, such as the location of city directories or old post offices in Kentucky.
Choosing the Best Kentucky Map – If you have a large source of maps to choose from, try starting with the area where your ancestors resided and looking for the maps with the most detail. You can determine a lot by seeing if the area was still rural or more developed, and how far it was to the nearest city. This can shed light on your family’s lifestyle and occupation. Were they farmers who lived in the country, or merchants who traveled often to a nearby city? A map can give you an idea of what occupations were possible.
Kentucky Map of Counties
John Filson’s map, which was drawn in 1784, is believed to be one of the earliest Kentucky maps still in existence today. The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Maps and Publications Office sells a later map, which is more detailed and shows waterways in the state. That office also has a large atlas and map collection, which researchers can access.
In 1819 Luke Munsell’s map was printed. It was called “Map of the State of Kentucky together with parts of Indiana and Indian Territories.” The Library of Congress has a copy of that map on file.
There is a large collection of 1784 to 1818 Kentucky maps available at the Kentucky Libraries and Archives. That collection also includes maps from both the late 1800s and early 1900s, however, most of them are unprocessed and not properly organized or indexed. The Filson Library, the Kentucky Historical Society and the University of Kentucky Library also have many Kentucky maps, which are available to researchers. City, state, and county maps are all included in those collections. There are also maps called cadastral maps, which include landowner names. When cross-referenced with tax lists, they can be quite valuable to researchers.
Kentucky Map of County Formations For The Years 1776-1939
This Kentucky map shows the historical changes to Kentucky counties from 1776 to 1939. This Interactive Kentucky map is made with the use AniMap Plus 3.0 & with the Permission of the Goldbug Company.
County General Highway Maps were produced by the Kentucky Department of Highways. The originals are 1:125,000 scale and about 18 inches by 18 to 24 inches (some are a little larger and a few are oriented 90° from the others). Two series are available: 1950 and 1999. The 1950 series maps were often actually from the 1930s and 40s with only minor updates. A few of the 1999 series maps are from earlier in the 1990s. The General Highway Maps are no longer updated and they will be replaced by the new County Road Series. The State Primary Road System maps are available for each county now, but they contain less detail. See the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s web site for more information.
The Kentucky Department of Transportation is pleased to provide highly detailed county maps online. These maps contain more detailed information about man-made features than the geological survey maps. In addition to roads and boundaries, these maps include rural communities, churches, and cemeteries.
These maps are downloadable and are in PDF format. The main use of these are the locations of all known cemeteries in a county and of course the various roads and church locations. These Maps are Free to Download.