Not just an atlas. Not just a book of maps.
The real prize, as genealogists and historians and other researchers know, is a cadastral map, one which lists the name of each property owner right on his little corner of the world.
I’m thrilled to learn that the Presque Isle Historical Society has published the 1877 Atlas of Aroostook County, Maine by Roe & Colby on DVD for $20 plus $2 mailing.
Order by sending $22 per DVD to Presque Isle Historical Society, PO Box 285, Presque Isle, ME 04769. Or visit www.pihistory.org.
Frederick B. Roe and N. George Colby did a variety of these county atlases for Maine within a few years of the 1880 census — the one you can look up free online at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website at www.familysearch.org.
Here’s one of my favorite searches to do:
Find an ancestor on one of these cadastral maps, and note who lives on (or owns) lots next door.
Then look up your ancestor in the 1880 census.
Click on Household to see who was in the home that year. Then click on “next household” or “previous household” to see who the census-taker for 1880 lists as living next door to your ancestor.
Do they match up?
In Frenchville — technically Upper Frenchville — my husband’s Saucier ancestors were said to have lived on one of those long, narrow plots bordering the St. John River. (Early settlers along the St. Lawrence in Quebec lived on similar plots, giving them access to the river.)
The Sauciers supposedly lived across the road from St. Luce Catholic Church in Upper Frenchville, possibly on property that later became the site of the convent.
According to Roe & Colby, J. Soucier owned a plot on the river side of what is now Route 1 — probably an uncle or cousin of some sort.
To the west of Soucier the map shows D. Cyr, S.M., E. Lagasse and D. Lagasse.
Next, across the road, we find A. Daigle, C. King and G.M.
Next after that is Cath. Ch., which would be St. Luce, and the name Rev. C. Sweron. Father Charles Sweron was the pastor at St. Luce. Across the road on the river side is R. Daigle.
So what does the 1880 census tell us — presuming that the census enumerator proceeded along the road?
This portion of the census was enumerated by Cyrus H. Dickey on June 18, 1880.
Some French names have many different spellings in the census, partly because the enumerators didn’t necessarily speak French.
Then, too, the LDS version of the 1880 census online is typed, not original images. So the accuracy of the transcribed census also depends on the transcriber’s ability to read the record, and on whether the transcriber is familiar with names in that area.
The LDS website lists “Josian Soucia,” (probably Josiah Saucier,) age 60, with wife Henrette (Henriette), five sons and two daughters.
Next door we find the Filemen Cyr family, the Bruno Ouelette family, the Elis Legasse Jr. family and Elis Legasse family in the same household, the David Legasse family, the Clement Voissin (Voisine) family, and the Regis Daigle family.
So some of the names do line up.
Moreover, as I peruse this map, I notice some plots of land in Frenchville where the surname of the owner is the same as who owns it in 2010. Imagine how many of those long-held family properties someone who grew up in Frenchville might find.
This DVD includes maps from 17 towns, 20 plantations and 13 villages. Keep in mind that St. Agatha was not yet its own town, but rather included in Frenchville in the 1800s.
There are many advantages to working with a DVD, members of the historical society point out.
It’s very difficult to copy those big, old atlases — and it shouldn’t be done because the pages are fragile.
Images on DVD can be enlarged and printed out, although you want to ask a librarian or someone who knows more than I do about “zooming and printing.”
I also thought I’d look at the map of the Swedish Colony from the atlas, listed as Landkarte von Neu Schweden.
The plantation of New Sweden has a nice rectangular shape, and so lacks some of the odd-shaped plots you find in a town that bounds a river, such as Frenchville.
Toward the lower part of the colony, beneath the end of the South Branch Brewster Brook, I find these three names in a row: M. Sundstrom, N. Larsom and L.E.E. Lundvall.
On the census we find Mark Sundstrom family, the Noah Larsom family, spelled with an “m,” and a few lots later, a Lars Lundvall.
Also on the map, we find names such as Johanson, Ohlson, Nilson, Anderson, Martenson and Esborgson.
I don’t think I have any ancestors from Aroostook County. But between my husband’s Franco-American forebears and my daughter-in-law’s Canadian English ancestors who moved a bit west from New Brunswick, I could happily spend a month or two on this nifty Aroostook County DVD.
Send queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, PO Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.