Friday, February 26, 2010

The Benefit of an Old County Atlas

I'm not certain as to Daniel Fitzgerald's motivation for moving his family in 1843 from New York State to Toronto, Ontario but move he did. Daniel was born in Waterford, Ireland around 1804 and as a young, single man, he struck out on his own in 1825 seeking a bright future in the New World, settling in St. Vincent, New York. There he married Rebecca Noble and brought four children into the world: Lewis, Henry, Joseph, and a daughter Annette.

When he moved to Toronto, he purchased 100 acres of land at Lot 5, Concession 2 according to 1885's History of Toronto and County of York, Ontario, Vol. 2. According to his 1885 biographical sketch, the family 'homestead' was eventually purchased by Daniel's youngest son, Joseph and his oldest son, Lewis purchased 15 acres at Lot 8, Concession 2 to which he later added 10 acres.

Fortunately, McGill University's County Atlas Digital Project provides a great search tool for finding maps and for me, this meant finding the location of these ancestral lands (you can also view Randy Seaver's more detailed review of the county atlas project in his November 24th and 25th, 2009 posting on the Genea-Musings blog). For Daniel Fitzgerald is my third great grandfather (see also Daniel Fitzgerald Died?) and his eldest son, Lewis, my second great grandfather. The atlas maps are searchable by both county and name so finding these properties, with the names of each ancestor printed on the section of land that they owned in an 1878 map was both easy and exciting. Below is section of the map showing Lewis' property, the large original Fitzgerald property that in 1878 was owned by Joseph Fitzgerald and in the bottom left corner of Joseph's lands, the home of Daniel Fitzgerald - "DF" on the map.

If only they had held on to the land. It would be worth millions today! It's great to see that my ancestors appear to have prospered but again, that family wealth seems to have vanished before it could pass to my generation!

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