Montana Historical Timeline, 1803-1889

The following article was written by my good friend, Bill Dollarhide, and is taken from his book, Montana Censuses & Substitute Name Lists, 1860-2014.

Prologue: The highlighted events of this historical timeline for Montana are focused on the early settlements and jurisdictional changes that evolved. The goal here is to give genealogists a sense of the jurisdictions in place at the time an ancestor lived there. For example, this timeline shows that a search for early Montana records may send a researcher to Oregon Territory, Washington Territory, Idaho Territory, Dakota Territory, Montana Territory, and finally, the state of Montana. And, for an understanding of the county jurisdictions, the map of  Montana Territory at the time of the 1870 census shows  both the first 11 counties of  the territory, and the  56 modern counties of the state on the same map.

1803. Lewis and Clark Expedition.  Captains William Clark and Meriwether Lewis led the Corps of Discovery, the first transcontinental expedition of the lands west of the Missouri River. Their trek to the Pacific was mostly via river routes, beginning at St. Louis on the Mississippi, up the Missouri River to its source in Montana, then by foot across the Mountains, picking up Idaho’s Clear River, to the Snake River of Idaho and Washington, and finally, the Columbia River all the way to its mouth at present Astoria, Oregon.

1807. British Canadian fur trader and mapmaker David Thompson, with the Montreal-based North West Fur Company, began looking for routes from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. He led a crew of French-Canadian fur trappers, established fur trading opportunities with any Indian tribes encountered, and charted detailed maps of the Columbia River. From 1807 to 1809, Thompson established the first trading post in present Montana at Kootenai Falls near Libby; the first in present Idaho, Kullyspell House, on Pend Oreille Lake; and the first trading post in present Washington, now Bonner’s Ferry, on the Columbia River.

1807.  Fort Raymond. Fur trader Manuel Lisa established Fort Raymond, a fur trading post in present day Montana, at the mouth of the Bighorn River on the Yellowstone River.

1807.  John Colter, recent  member of the Lewis and Clark expedition, now a mountain man, fur trapper,  and explorer, was the first to describe a place where “hot water shoots straight into the air, the earth bubbles as if it were boiling, and almost extinct geysers thunder as if possessed by angry spirits.” He referred to the area in his written report as Colter’s Hell. Most easterners believed he was lying or exaggerating – it was hard to believe such a place could really exist. Colter’s Hell is now called Yellowstone National Park.

1818.  Anglo-American Convention. Britain and the U.S. agreed to the 49th parallel as the international boundary from the Lake of the Woods (now Minnesota) to the Continental Divide (in present Montana).

1818.  Oregon Country.  Also in the 1818 treaty, The United States and Great Britain agreed to a joint occupation of the Oregon Country/Columbia District. Both parties accepted the area as extending from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean, and from about Latitude 54° in present British Columbia, to the Boundary Mountains (now Siskiyou Mountains) at about Latitude 42° ). In 1827 a provision was added to the treaty that allowed either party to invoke a conclusion of ownership, by giving 12 months notice to the other. Notice was not given until 1845, when President James K. Polk sought resolution, leading to a new treaty in 1846.

1828.  Fort Union. At the mouth of the Yellowstone River on the Missouri River (near the present Montana-North Dakota line), an earlier Fort Henry was taken over by the American Fur Company in 1828 and renamed Fort Union. It became the center for John Jacob Astor’s fur trading empire in the northern Plains.

1832. The first steamboat into Montana was the Yellowstone, which began annual trips from St. Louis up the Missouri River to Fort Union. Similar to the annual rendezvous system used in Wyoming and Idaho, the early fur traders of Montana converged on Fort Union every Fall to trade their furs for supplies, weapons, and cash.

1839.  Fr. Pierre-Jean DeSmet arrived among the Flatheads in the Bitterroot Valley of present Montana. He and his staff would set up a number of Jesuit missions in the present states of Montana, Washington and Idaho.

1841.  St. Mary’s Mission, the first permanent settlement by Europeans in the Montana area was established by Jesuit missionaries led by Fr. DeSmet.

1847.  Fort Benton was established on the Missouri River as a military and trading post. It soon became the “Head of Navigation” to the west, and the world’s furthest inland port.  Steamboats brought gold seekers, fur traders, settlers and supplies, making Fort Benton the “Birthplace of Montana.”  Of  all  the  forts on the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, Fort Benton is the only one that continues as a town today. It is located in north central Montana, about 30 miles northeast of Great Falls.

1848.  Mexican Annexation.  On February 2nd, the Treaty of Hidalgo Guadalupe was signed, ending the war with Mexico. As part of the treaty, the Mexican provinces of California and Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico were annexed to the U.S., which included the present states of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and western Colorado.

1848. August 14th, Oregon Territory was created by Congress. It encompassed the area between the 42nd and 49th  parallels, from the Pacific to the Continental Divide. The first capital was Oregon City.

1850. June. Federal Census taken in Oregon Territory, which included the area of present Oregon, Washington, and Idaho; and Montana and Wyoming areas west of the Continental Divide. The population was revealed as 12,093 people. No population was recorded in the present Idaho, Montana, or Wyoming areas.

1853.  Washington Territory was created by Congress. It encompassed the present area of Washington, but extended east to the Rocky Mountains, incorporating areas that today are in northern Idaho and western Montana. As a result, the original Oregon Territory was split in half. Oregon Territory now had lands on the same line as its present northern border stretching to the Continental Divide, and included the southern half of present Idaho, and a portion of present western Montana and Wyoming.

1859.  Oregon joined the Union as the 33rd state, a Free State with the same boundaries as present. The population of the new state was about 45,000 people. The eastern remnants of Oregon Territory, 1853-1859, were added to Washington Territory.

1860. June. Federal Census. Washington Territory.  The population  was at 11,594. The area included present Washington and Idaho; and areas west of the Continental Divide in present Montana and Wyoming. The only recorded population outside of the present Washington bounds was for the residents of the Bitterroot Valley and Ponderay Mountain areas of present Montana; and a few farmers in Idaho’s Bear Lake area taken as part of Cache County, Utah Territory.

1860. June. Federal Census. Unorganized Dakota.  Present Montana east of the Continental Divide was part of Nebraska Territory, but for convenience the trading posts of Fort Union on the Missouri River and Fort Alexander on the Yellowstone River were enumerated in 1860 as part of Unorganized Dakota. Fort Benton and a couple of other outposts in Montana were missed.

1861.  Dakota Territory was created, with boundaries that included all of Montana and Wyoming east of the Continental Divide; and the areas of present North Dakota and South Dakota.

The first Idaho Territory, March 1863


1863.  Idaho Territory was created, with boundaries that  included all of present Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming areas. This large area was short-lived, however, as Montana Territory was taken from the Idaho area a year later.

Montana Territory, created in 1864

1864.  Montana Territory was formed, taken from  the obese Idaho Territory. From its beginning, Montana Territory had the same boundaries as the present state. The original area proposed for Montana Territory included what is now Idaho’s northern panhandle, but Congress decided to keep that area as part of Idaho to offset the Mormon population in southern Idaho. The first territorial capital of Montana was established at Bannack, followed by Virginia City in 1865, and finally, Helena in 1875.

1870. June.  Federal Census. Montana Territory. The population was at 20,595. The first eleven counties of Montana Territory, 1864-1867, are shown in black on the 1870 map above. The 56 modern counties of the state of Montana today are shown in white. An excellent List of Counties in Montana is a Wikipedia site, with good details about Montana’s 56 counties, dates established, origin, etymology, population, and size.

1880. June. Federal Census. Montana Territory. The population was at 39,159.

1889. Nov. 8th.  Montana became the 41st state, with the state capital at Helena.

Further Reading:

Montana Censuses & Substitutes, 1860-2014 [Printed Book], 2017, softbound, 81 pages, Item FR0261.

Montana Censuses & Substitutes, 1860-2014  [PDF eBook], 2017, 81 pages,  Item FR0262.

Online Montana Censuses & Substitutes: A Genealogists’ Insta-Guide™ , 4 -page, laminated, 3-hole punched, Item FR0331.

Online Montana Censuses & Substitutes: A Genealogists’ Insta-Guide™, (PDF version), 4-page, Item FR0332.





Bundle of 3 Excellent Hardbound New York City Source Books – Just $36

Family Roots Publishing has put together a bundle of three excellent hardbound New York City source books – all priced at extremely low prices, even before the 20% bundle discount. Although new, all seem to be out-of-print as far as we can tell, as we can find none at the publisher’s website or as new books at Amazon.

The books are:

FRPC has priced the $45 retail bundle at 20% off through Friday, March 2, 2018, or whenever we run out of books to fill out the bundle. The promotional bundle cost is just $36.00 (plus $8 p&h). Click on this link or the illustration to order. Click on the individual book links to check out the full description of each book, and to browse the alphabetical surname indexes. Use your back arrow to return to this page to order the bundle.

All three of these volumes were compiled years ago by Kenneth Smith, and are extremely useful for New York City research. We’ve assembled surname indexes for each volume. See the individual web pages for each of the titles to browse the alphabetical surname indexes, or to purchase an individual title. Return to this page to purchase the bundle. Note that we have limited quantities of these volumes, so we don’t expect them to last long.

JoyFlips Giving Away $80,000 Worth of FamilyArchive™ Kits at RootsTech

The following news release was received from Tami Mize, at JoyFlips:

JoyFlips giving away $80,000 worth of FamilyArchive™ Kits at RootsTech Launch of Version 4.0.

Groundbreaking technology for preserving and sharing family stories being launched at world’s largest family history technology event

San Francisco, CA. February 20, 2018: JoyFlips will be launching several technical breakthroughs in version 4.0 of its family album technology at RootsTech 2018, along with a giveaway of 2,000 of its new FamilyArchive™ Kits – an $80,000 value – during the event, Feb. 28 – Mar 3, 2018, in Salt Lake City. The new technology in JoyFlips 4.0 will also be featured in the RootsTech Innovation Showcase during the conference.

The new FamilyArchive Kit is a secure offline automatic backup, protected by patent-pending technology, that will keep your family’s digital archive safe for over 50 years. Anyone attending the conference who has a free JoyFlips account, or opens one between February 28 and March 3 at 3pm, is eligible to receive a free $40 value FamilyArchive Kit by stopping by one of the JoyFlips booths at the show. (Recipients must be 14 or older to be eligible) Offer limited to 2,000 eligible attendees. One FamilyArchive Kit per person. Anyone not attending the conference in person who opens a free JoyFlips account from February 28th through March 3rd will be eligible for a 50% discount off the normal price of $40, including free shipping, if ordered by March 31, 2018.

JoyFlips version 4.0 will be available to the public at the start of RootsTech 2018 on February 28, 2018. JoyFlips is a completely free and unlimited service available as an app for both iOS and Android devices, in addition to a user-friendly website which includes almost all of the same functionality of the phone app. Version 4 extends the firm’s leadership in family story technology with new features, including the ability to record stories as family members browse photos together on the phone, then converting those stories and photos into shareable high-resolution videos. The videos are instantly updated any time the photos or audio are changed, making them dynamically interactive. This is the first technology that makes it easy for families to create video albums of both family photos and recordings of family members sharing stories about them.

“We are fulfilling our mission to provide millions of people worldwide with the tools to easily discover, record, share and preserve their family’s stories.” said Vincent Titolo, JoyFlips co-founder and CEO. “One of the exciting new technologies in version 4 of JoyFlips makes it possible for the first time to use photos along with stories in the voices of family members to create beautiful shared videos. Now the entire family can participate in creating their own living documentaries,” he added.

“Version 4 of JoyFlips was completely rebuilt from the ground up not only to make it easier to use, but to add important new features allowing collaboration and on-the-phone storytelling while family members browse through photos together.” added Scott Shebby, JoyFlips cofounder and CTO. “Another major breakthrough is our FamilyArchive software that creates an always up-to-date secure offline backup of everything in your JoyFlips account. Our patentpending technology brings the cost of highly reliable long-term data storage down to where almost everyone can safely archive their family’s precious legacy of photos, stories and documents for generations,” he continued.

Other innovative features of the free JoyFlips service include:
● Importing photos from anywhere: your phone, computer, Facebook or FamilySearch, or with the built-in fast high-resolution scanner for paper photos and documents
● The ability to have an unlimited number of photos and stories stored online and available wherever you are: on your phone or on your computer
● Adding searchable tags with both voice and text that are also embedded in the photo jpg files
● Recording searchable stories in phone conversations
● Creating and sharing photo albums or video albums that contain photos and family member’s stories in their own voice
● Inviting family members to add photos and stories to albums
● Easy-to-use photo restoration, touch up and editing software
● Optional FamilyArchive™ Kit secure Off-Line automatic backups protected by patentpending technology that keeps your family’s digital archive safe for over 50 years

JoyFlips is a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform that allows millions of people worldwide to discover and preserve their family history by connecting old print photos and family storytelling to the vast resources of historical documents now available online. Our technology provides the tools to scan, preserve and share thousands of print photos, and to record and pass down the stories they tell through storytelling in voice and text. For more information about JoyFlips technology visit

The FamilyArchive Kit is a combination of a special long-life USB flash drive and software that automatically maintains an up-to-date backup copy of a user’s JoyFlips account. The patentpending FamilyArchive Kit ensures the data stored on the USB drive remains intact for over 50 years by using Single Level Cell (SLC) NAND flash memory technology and applying error correction software that identifies errors in critical data stored on the drive and then reconstructs the original, error-free data.

The FamilyArchive software automatically creates an offline copy of the user’s full JoyFlips account including all photos, tags, albums, recorded stories and video albums. Each FamilyArchive drive can store a typical JoyFlips account with up to 30,000 photos, voice stories and associated video albums. Users access their offline JoyFlips account from their web browser, enjoying the full multimedia viewing of photos, stories and video albums just as it they were in their online web account. Individual image, audio and video files can also be downloaded from the FamilyArchive drive.

Should the FamilyArchive storage device ever be lost, the software allows users to easily create a new copy on a new FamilyArchive device directly from their account.
The FamilyArchive Kit is priced at $40 and includes free express shipping.

RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, is a global conference celebrating families across generations, where people of all ages are inspired to discover and share their memories and connections. This annual event has become the largest of its kind in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants worldwide. RootsTech will be held on Feb. 28th through March 3rd, at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Family History Technology Innovation Showcase will also be held during the conference. For information about attending RootsTech 2018 and the Family History Innovator Showcase, visit

Bundle of Three Popular Pennsylvania Research Books – 60% Off Thru Friday, Feb 23

Family Roots Publishing has put together a bundle made up of three popular Pennsylvania Research books – two guides and one source book – and discounted the price by 60% thru Friday, February 23. Regular $78.40, the bundle is just $31.36 (plus $5.50 p&h). Click on this link or the illustration to order.

They are:

Read a review of The Provincial Councillors Of Pennsylvania Who Held Office Between 1733 And 1776 at GenealogyBlog

Click on the links to see the books at the website. Use your back arrow to return to this page and order the bundle.

Family Discovery Genealogy Workshop to be held April 21 in North Platte, Nebraska

The following was received from my friend, Ruby Coleman:

The Family Discovery Genealogy Workshop will be held on Saturday 21 April 2018 1 to 6 pm. It is sponsored by the North Platte Genealogical Society, with presentations by Ruby Coleman and society members. The workshop will be held in the Fireside Room of Church of Our Savior (Episcopal), 203 West 4th, North Platte.

Cost is just $10, and free to North Platte Genealogical Society members. A syllabus will be provided as well as drawings and handouts. The presentations are:

  • Starting and Continuing Your Tree;
  • There’s More Than Ancestry;
  • Finding Family Elsewhere and
  • DNA, Is Testing for YOU?

People can pre-register by calling 308-534-1940 or sending an e-mail to

Don’t Miss These Four Events at RootsTech 2018!

The following was received from RootsTech:

Attending the exciting events scheduled throughout RootsTech is a fun way to celebrate your own family history experiences and connect with friends and colleagues. Here are 4 special events you won’t want to miss!

General Session and Innovation Showcase | Wednesday, 4:30 P.M.
Don’t forget that RootsTech officially begins on Wednesday, February 28! Join us for the all-new general session featuring popular speaker Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch International, at 4:30 p.m. MST. Following Rockwood’s address will be the Innovation Showcase. Learn more about the Showcase here.

Expo Hall Preview Night | Wednesday, 6–8 P.M.
Visit the gigantic RootsTech Expo Hall for a sneak peek. Now open on Wednesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Free soda will be available on this night only!

Opening Event: Celebrating the Greatest Generation | Thursday, 6 P.M. | Main Stage
Our opening event will feature vignettes of 1940s era dance, music, and narration to celebrate the greatest generation. Enjoy entertainment from the BYU Ballroom Dance Company and Synthesis, a jazz band ensemble from BYU. The event will be narrated by the Emmy award-winning Bruce Lindsay.

Closing Event: Luz de Las Naciones | Saturday, 6 P.M. | Conference Center on Temple Square
Wrap up your conference experience with the closing event, My Family, Mi Herencia, a Luz de Las Naciones production that celebrates cultures and stories from Latin America.

*Download the RootsTech mobile app, and begin planning your schedule today!

The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania


Several years ago, I bought the remaining hard cover copies of a Pennsylvania families book entitled The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania: Who Held Office Between 1733 and 1776 AND Those Earlier Councillors Who Where Some Time Chief Magistrates of the Province, and Their Descendants. The book is in print with the publisher, but only as a print-on-demand paperback at a cost of $49.50. I still have copies of the hard-back edition in the Family Roots Publishing warehouse.

To make it easier for our readers, we have here included a Surname Index to the majority of the names found in the volume. I say majority, since we made up this index using the Table of Contents, the Principal Name Index, and the Subject Index of the book. There are many other people found in the volume, and not included in the following index, but those names are considered secondary, as they are not councillors, their descendants, descendants spouses, or a person with a biographical sketch.

Following is a review written a while back by Andy Pomeroy. We have added a surname index at the end.

Charles P. Keith authored a tremendous historical and genealogical work when he comprised The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania: Who Held Office Between 1733 and 1776 AND Those Earlier Councillors Who Where Some Time Chief Magistrates of the Province, and Their Descendants.

This book belongs in every American genealogical library because it covers many of the leading families of the mid-Atlantic region and includes the entire progeny of the councillors–including daughters of daughters of daughters, sons of sons of sons, cadet branches who moved west, and English, French, German and other foreign descendants. Treated especially well are the full progenies then known of several royally descended founders of the Province–the Welsh Deputy Governor Thomas and Mary (Jones) Lloyd, plus John Cadwalader, and the Scottish James Logan (plus the mostly Pennsylvania progeny of James Tilghman, son of the immigrant Richard of Maryland). Also covered are all descendants of Edward Shippen (mostly Winthrop descendants via Grosses of Boston), who include the family of traitor Benedict Arnold and the also royally descended Burds of Philadelphia, plus Willings, Binghams, Clymers, Francises, Bayards of Delaware, and Byrds of Virginia. Lloyd descendants include many of the leading Quaker and Episcopal families of Philadelphia–Moores, Whartons, Pembertons, Morrises, plus (under son-in-law Samuel Preston) Carpenters, Ellets, and Wistars. Logan descendants include Fishers, Wisters, Drinkers, and Biddles.

First published in 1883, The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania “gives, with biographical sketches, more or less extended, a complete list of the descendants, as far as has been ascertained from public records and correspondence with representatives of the families, Burke’s Peerage, howerver, being depended upon as to the foreign branches set for therein, and Lanman’s Biograph. Annals or Benton’s Thirty Year’s View furnishing the material for notices of American public men since the Revolution. The earliest laws of Pennsylvania having ordered a division among all the children, the descent of land is the chief source of genealogy…These genealogies are arranged according to branches instead of generations, all the posterity of any man being given before the children of his younger brother.” Read the “Explanation” for full details.


Table of Contents



Corrigenda and Addenda

Early Councillors who were Chief Magistrates of the Province:

  • William Markham
  • Thomas Lloyd
  • Edward Shippen

Councillors from 1733 to 1776

  • James Logan
  • William Logan
  • Isaac Norris
  • Samuel Preston
  • Anthony Palmer
  • Andrew Hamilton
  • James Hamilton
  • Andrew Allen
  • Henry Brooke
  • Thomas Graeme
  • Clement Plumsted
  • Thomas Griffitts
  • Charles Read
  • William Till
  • Robert Strettell
  • Samuel Hasell
  • Abraham Taylor
  • Joseph Turner
  • Lawrence Growdon
  • Richard Peters
  • Benjamin Shoemaker
  • Thomas Hopkinson
  • Ralph Assheton
  • John Penn
  • Lynford Lardner
  • Benjamin Chew
  • John Mifflin
  • Thomas Cadwalader
  • James Tilghman
  • John Moland
  • Richard Penn
  • Thomas Lawrence
  • Edward Shippen
  • William Hicks

Get your copy of The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania from Family Roots Publishing, sale extended for 60% off through midnight Christmas Eve., December 24, 2014.

Following is a Surname Index of principal subjects (pr) found in the volume who are descendants of Councillors or of whom a biographical sketch is given, and the husbands of the female descendants. Also found in the following Surname Index are the names from the Subject Index of the book (sbj). Finally, the Councillors themselves (see above) are listed from the Table of Contents (toc).

Abbrev Key:
pr=from principle surname index
sbj=from subject index
toc=Table of Contents

  • Abbot pr
  • Abbott pr
  • Acosta pr
  • Acton pr
  • Adain pr
  • Adams pr
  • Agnew pr
  • Albree pr
  • Alison pr
  • Allaire pr
  • Allen pr
  • Alleyne pr
  • Allinson pr
  • Ambler pr
  • Amory pr
  • Archer pr
  • Armstrong pr
  • Arnell pr
  • Arnold pr
  • Arrach pr
  • Ashburton pr
  • Assheton toc
  • Aubsbury pr
  • Auchmuty pr
  • Auld pr
  • Bache pr
  • Bailey pr
  • Baird pr
  • Baker pr
  • Balch pr
  • Ball pr
  • Barbé-Marbois pr
  • Baring pr
  • Barker pr
  • Barnard pr
  • Barnes pr
  • Barrett-Leonard pr
  • Barrow pr
  • Barstow pr
  • Barton pr
  • Bateman pr
  • Bath pr
  • Baumgarten pr
  • Bayard pr
  • Beadel pr
  • Beatty pr
  • Beaver pr
  • Beck pr
  • Beckett pr
  • Beers pr
  • Bell pr
  • Benezet pr
  • Bennett pr
  • Bentley pr
  • Berkeley pr
  • Berrett pr
  • Beste pr
  • Bettarina pr
  • Betton pr
  • Bickley pr
  • Biddle pr
  • Biddle sbj
  • Biles sbj
  • Bingham pr
  • Binney sbj
  • Bisland pr
  • Bispham pr
  • Bisset pr
  • Black pr
  • Blackwell, John [Lt Gov] sbj
  • Blair pr
  • Blaisell pr
  • Bloodgood pr
  • Bogle pr
  • Bois-Guilbert pr
  • Bolling pr
  • Bond pr
  • Bond sbj
  • Bonsall pr
  • Booth pr
  • Borden pr
  • Borden sbj
  • Börs pr
  • Boude pr
  • Bowdoin pr
  • Bowen pr
  • Bowie pr
  • Boyd pr
  • Bradford pr
  • Bradley pr
  • Branck pr
  • Branson sbj
  • Brantingham pr
  • Bridgeman-Simpson pr
  • Briggs pr
  • Brinton pr
  • Briscoe pr
  • Brock pr
  • Brooke pr
  • Brooke Rawle pr
  • Brower pr
  • Brown pr
  • Brown sbj
  • Browne pr
  • Brownell pr
  • Brownson pr
  • Bruce pr
  • Bruen pr
  • Brune pr
  • Bryan pr
  • Buchanan pr
  • Buckley pr
  • Buckner pr
  • Budd sbj
  • Bulkwhey pr
  • Bunker pr
  • Burd pr
  • Burge pr
  • Burgess pr
  • Burleigh pr
  • Burnaby pr
  • Burroughs pr
  • Burton pr
  • Burwell pr
  • Byrd pr
  • Cabell pr
  • Cable sbj
  • Cade pr
  • Continue Reading “The Provincial Councillors of Pennsylvania”

Missouri Historical Timeline, 1673-1965

The following article was written by my good friend,
Bill Dollarhide, and is taken from his book, Missouri Censuses & Substitute Names Lists, 1752-2010.

1673. Mississippi River. French explorers Jacques Jolliet and Louis Marquette left their base at Ste. Sault Marie, and made their way to the Illinois River, which they descended to become the first Europeans to discover the Mississippi River. They floated down the Mississippi as far south as the mouth of the Arkansas River before returning to the Great Lakes area.

1682. Mississippi River. Following the same route as Jolliet and Marquette, René-Robert Cavelier (Sieur de LaSalle) floated down the Mississippi River, continuing all the way to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. He then claimed the entire Mississippi Basin for Louis XIV of France, for whom Louisiana was named.

1682-1720. Louisiana. During this period, the jurisdiction of Louisiana ran from the Gulf of Mexico to the confluence of the Arkansas River with the Mississippi River. The French administered Arkansas Post, Natchez, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Mobile, and Biloxi as part of Louisiana. Fort Louis de la Louisiane (now Mobile), was the capital of Louisiana, 1702-1720.

1720-1762. Upper and Lower Louisiana.
By 1720, The Illinois Country was separated from Quebéc and added to Louisiana. The original Louisiana area became known as Lower Louisiana. The capital of Lower Louisiana was at New Orleans, 1720-1762. Upper Louisiana extended from the Highlands (Terra Haute) on the Wabash River down the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys to the Arkansas River. The fur trading settlements of Upper Louisiana included Vincennes (now Indiana), Prairie du Chien (now Wisconsin); Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Chartres, Saint Philippe, and Prairie du Rocher (now Illinois); Ste. Genevieve (now Missouri), and Fort de Chavagnial on the Missouri River (now Kansas).

1763. Treaty of Paris. This was the end of the French and Indian war. (In Europe it was called the “Seven Years War.”) At the 1763 treaty, the French surrendered all their claims in North America. Spain acquired the former French areas west of the Mississippi, renamed Spanish Louisiana. Great Britain gained all of Québec, which they immediately renamed the Province of Canada. Britain also gained control of the rest of North America east of the Mississippi River. They named their entire area British North America.

1764.  St. Louis was founded by French trader Pierre Laclede Liguest. Although part of Spanish Louisiana, St. Louis operated under French civilian control until it was occupied by Spanish soldiers in 1770.

1783. Treaty of Paris. As the official end of the Revolutionary War, the 1783 treaty recognized the United States as an independent republic, with borders from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. The treaty also reaffirmed the claims of Britain to present-day Canada; and Spain’s claim to lands west of the Mississippi River.

1800. Louisiana. Napoleon acquired title of Louisiana from Spain. At the Third Treaty of San Ildefonso, the Spanish acknowledged that it was too costly to explore the country and could not see the rewards being worth the investment. Spain retroceded Louisiana to France in exchange for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany (now part of Italy).

1803. Louisiana Purchase. The United States purchased Louisiana from France. Sent by President Jefferson to attempt the purchase of New Orleans, the American negotiators (James Madison and Robert Livingston) were surprised when Napoleon offered the entire tract to them. The Louisiana Purchase was officially described as the “drainage of the Mississippi and Missouri River basins.” Adding the area doubled the size of the United States.

1804. On a expedition ordered by President Thomas Jefferson, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s Corps of Discovery left St. Louis in search of a passage to the Pacific Ocean. Based on bad information from his spies, the Spanish governor of New Mexico dispatched soldiers from Santa Fe to the Arkansas River to intercept the party and arrest them. But, the Lewis and Clark party had taken a more northern route, following the Missouri River.

1804.  Orleans Territory and Louisiana District. Congress divided the Louisiana Purchase into two jurisdictions. Orleans Territory had north and south bounds the same as the present state of Louisiana, but did not include land east of the Mississippi River, and its northwestern corner extended on an indefinite line west into Spanish Texas. For a year, Louisiana District was attached to Indiana Territory for judicial administration.

1805. Louisiana Territory. Louisiana District became Louisiana Territory with its own Governor on July 4, 1805. First governor: James Wilkinson. First territorial capital: St. Louis.

1805. First Pike Expedition. Governor Wilkinson, still a U.S. Army General, picked Lieutenant Zebulon Pike to lead a small party of soldiers to investigate the Mississippi River above St. Louis. Pike was given specific orders to find the source of the Mississippi, and while doing so, to note “…any rivers, prairies, islands, mines, quarries, timber, and any Indian villages and settlements encountered.”

1805. Louisiana Territory had five original subdivisions: St. Louis District, St. Charles District, Ste. Genevieve District, Cape Girardeau District and New Madrid District. The unpopulated area north of these original districts was referred to as Upper Louisiana, and included all lands north to the U.S./British border and west to the Continental Divide.

1806-1807. Second Pike Expedition.  Zebulon Pike, now a Captain, was again sent out, this time to explore and locate the source of the Red River in Lower Louisiana. From St. Louis, Pike’s party followed the Missouri River to the mouth of the Kansas River, then connecting with the Arkansas River, which he followed to its source in the Rocky Mountains (now Colorado), Pike returned on a more southern route that took him into an area claimed by the Spanish as part of Nuevo Mexico. He and his men were arrested, taken to Santa Fe, but returned to the Arkansas River shortly thereafter. In 1810 Pike wrote a book describing his adventures in the Rocky Mountains that became a best seller in America and Europe. The book was the inspiration and guide for a good number of “mountain men” who were the only whites to venture into the Rocky Mountains for the next 35 years.

1812. Missouri Territory. Louisiana Territory was renamed Missouri Territory on June 4, 1812. This was to avoid any confusion after Orleans Territory became the State of Louisiana on April 30, 1812. The General Assembly of the Territory of Missouri met in St. Louis in October, and converted the first five original districts into counties: Cape Girardeau, New Madrid, St. Charles, St. Louis, and Ste. Genevieve. A year later, the territorial legislature created Arkansas County from lands ceded by the Osage Indians.

1815-1819. Steamboats did not dominate river transportation until after the development of the classic flat-bottomed sternwheeler. By 1815, steamboats on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers had revolutionized river traffic. The first steamboats on the Missouri River began in 1819, but they could usually go no farther west than the mouth of the Kansas River, due to the periodic low water levels and heavy silt at that point.

1819.  Arkansas Territory was created, reducing the size of Missouri Territory. The original area included all of present-day Arkansas and most of Oklahoma.

1820. The Missouri Compromise in Congress allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state, thus keeping the balance of slave and free states equal in Congress. The Act dictated that the remaining area of Missouri Territory north of Latitude 36° 30′ was to be free of slavery (that area included present Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana).

1821. Aug 10th. Missouri was admitted to the Union as a state with St. Louis as the capital. After Missouri became a state, the remaining part of old Missouri Territory was officially described as Unorganized Territory.

1821. Sept. Santa Fe Trail. William Becknell, a Missouri trader, was the first American to follow the route that was to become known as the Santa Fe Trail, beginning at the Missouri River near present Independence, MO. His profitable success in trading with the newly independent Mexicans of Santa Fe was well publicized. Over the next few months, dozens of wagon trains were organized to transport and sell products to a new market.

1822. The Rocky Mountain Fur Company was formed by General William Ashley. He placed an ad in a St. Louis newspaper to recruit able-bodied men for his new fur-trading enterprise. There was no shortage of willing young men. Ashley did not build a chain of forts to manage his fur trading operation. Instead, he sent his men out alone and made arrangements to meet them all at a central place a year later. When Ashley finally reached his men each year, it was cause for celebration – a wild party they called “the rendezvous.” In 1826, William Ashley retired a wealthy man and sold the Rocky Mountain Fur Company to his employees.

1826. Missouri. The state capital was moved from St. Louis to Jefferson City.

1827.  Independence, Missouri. The frontier town of Independence was founded in 1827, the farthest point westward on the Missouri River where steamboats could usually travel. (The nearby confluence of the Kansas River was part of the navigation problem, due to heavy silt and periodic shallow channels). Independence immediately became a supply point, staging area, and primary starting point for the growing number of trappers and traders using the Santa Fe Trail.

1829. Sublette’s Trace/Oregon Trail. Before 1829, access to the Platte River Trail from Independence, Missouri, was via the Missouri River to the mouth of the Platte River in present Nebraska. But steamboat traffic usually ended at Independence and travel up river at that time required human-powered keel boats. The overland route of the Santa Fe Trail now started at Independence as well, heading west several miles into present Kansas, then southwest towards Santa Fe. A few miles into the Santa Fe Trail in present Kansas, at a point later called the Oregon Trail Junction, fur trader William Sublette blazed a cut-off from the Santa Fe Trail, turning northwest and connecting with the Platte River in present Nebraska. The new route across present northeast Kansas was more direct than the river route, and later became the first leg of the Oregon Trail.

1832. After dredging projects near the mouth of the Kansas River, steamboat traffic continued up the Missouri River. In 1832, the steamboat Yellowstone began the first of its annual fur-trading voyages up the Missouri River, reaching Fort Union (present North Dakota/Montana line).

1841. The Western Emigration Society, a group of about 70 settlers bound for California and the Oregon Country set off on the Oregon Trail, beginning at Independence, Missouri. This was the first organized wagon train to head for California and Oregon. It is usually called the “Bartleson-Bidwell party,” named for the two leaders. John Bartleson led about half of the group to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. John Bidwell took the other half to California’s Sacramento Valley. It is important to remember that neither California nor the Oregon Country were part of the U.S. in 1841, and that the pioneers headed there traveled on blind faith that they would be allowed to stay when they got there.

1843. May. Oregon Trail. A wagon train with over 120 wagons, a large herd of livestock, and 1,000 pioneers left Elm Grove, MO and headed out on the Oregon Trail. The largest wagon train to date, it became the model for the thousands of wagon trains that followed. For an online list of the members of the 1843 Wagon Train, see the OR RootsWeb site:

1849. California Gold Rush. With the discovery of gold in California, the Missouri towns of St. Louis, Independence, Westport, and St. Joseph became points of departure for emigrants bound for California, making Missouri the “Gateway to the West.”

1860. Apr. Pony Express. The 1,900-mile Pony Express route ran from St. Joseph, Missouri, to Sacramento, California. In competition with the Butterfield Overland Stage company, which held the U.S. Mail contract until the start of the Civil War, the Pony Express riders made the northern journey from St. Joseph to Sacramento in 10 days’ time. The Butterfield stages took a southern route from Memphis through Arkansas, Texas, and New Mexico, and into Los Angeles, then to Sacramento in an average of 25 days’ time. Still, the Pony Express could never gain the U.S. Mail contract and stayed in business only until June 1861.

1946.  Missouri.
Winston Churchill, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” speech at Fulton’s Westminster College.

1965.  St. Louis, Missouri. The Gateway Arch (Jefferson National Expansion Memorial) designed by Eero Saarinen was completed. Located on the original settlement site of St. Louis, it symbolized the role of St. Louis in the development of the western frontier.

Further Reading:

Missouri Censuses & Substitute Name Lists, 1752-2010, 85 pages, softbound, Item FR0259.

Missouri Censuses & Substitute Name Lists, 1752-2010 (PDF Version), 85 pages, Item FR0260.

Missouri Censuses & Substitutes, a Genealogists’ Insta-GuideTM, 4-page, laminated, 3-hole punched, Item FR0329.

Missouri Censuses & Substitutes, a Genealogists’ Insta-GuideTM, (PDF version), 4 pp, Item FR0330.

Research Onsite in Germany Bundle – 30% Off Through February 23

In December, Family Roots Publishing commissioned a special print-run of Researching in Germany, and bundled it with Tracing Your Ancestors: Heritage Travel – Tips, Tricks & Strategies. Then we discounted the price by 30%! Once again, FRPC is making this bundle available at that price – only $20.27 for both books. Click here to order the Research in Germany Bundle.

The two popular travel guides for genealogists are:

Researching in Germany, A Handbook for You Visit to the Homeland of Your Ancestors, by Roger P. Minert, Shirley J. Riemer, and Susan E. Sirrine


Tracing Your Ancestors: Heritage Travel – Tips, Tricks & Strategies, by Lisa A. Alzo & Christine Woodcock

Don’t need both? Purchase the individual books for 20% off at their respective sites.

RootsFinder Delivers Powerful New Free Tools to Genealogists

The following press release was received from my friend, Dallan Quass. I recommend anything that Dallan does… Over the years he has produced some of the finest technical genealogy aids and tools available.

16 Feb 2018 is a free, online family tree that makes researching family history much easier. Unlike other online trees, which only provide hints to their own content, RootsFinder provides hints and search suggestions to websites such as:
• FamilySearch
• FindMyPast
• AmericanAncestors
• BillionGraves
• FindAGrave
• Ancestry
• MyHeritage
• and more

In addition, seamless sync with FamilySearch, integration with GenSmarts, evidence analysis, embedded research logs, and DNA tools (coming soon) add to RootsFinder’s powerful offering.

Along with these valuable tools, RootsFinder has also developed two Chrome Browser Extensions. The extensions make research and recording information faster and more accurate.

1. WebClipper – Copy records and source citations quickly and automatically into your family tree from major genealogy websites such as Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, and more. It adds records to entire families at once.

2. ToDo Creator – Save search ideas for later by attaching action items to specific people in your family tree, adding them to research logs, and marking them complete when done.

RootsFinder also has tools that make it easy to share your genealogy with your family safely and securely:
• Invite others to your tree, but you control who edits
• Ancestor reports with stories and pictures can be turned into family history books
• Descendancy reports in the register format
• Videos & photo mosaics created from your media
• Fan charts and wall charts
• Pinterest-like media wall for scrolling through photos

Two plans are available: an ad-supported Free-Forever plan, and a $35/year Pro plan that removes ads and includes additional storage and advanced features. Everyone gets a 30-day Pro plan for free.

A small group of dedicated genealogists and software developers have been working on RootsFinder for the past three years. Our goal is to provide a free online family tree that is focused on the needs of the genealogy researcher. We think we finally have something worth talking about. – Dallan Quass

About RootsFinder
RootsFinder ( ) was founded in 2015 by Dallan Quass, CTO of FamilySearch from 2002-2004 and the creator of and, two of FamilyTree Magazine‘s top 101 genealogy websites. Dallan is joined at RootsFinder by Heather Henderson, Erin Harris, and other experienced genealogists who share his love of family history.

378K New Records To Search at FindMyPast This Week:

The following was received from FindMyPast:

There are over 378,000 new records available to search this Findmypast Friday, including:

Connecticut, Town of Sharon Cemetery Indexes
Explore more than 4,000 transcripts of headstone inscriptions from eight cemeteries in Sharon, Connecticut. From these indexes you can discover your ancestor’s birth year, death date, and burial place. This collection has been obtained from the website. Additional information about the records can we found on the source’s website.

Sharon is a town located in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in the northwest corner of the state. It is bounded on the north by Salisbury, on the east by the Housatonic River, on the south by Kent, and on the west by Dutchess County, New York.

Norfolk, Electoral Registers 1832-1915 Image Browse
Browse through images of electoral registers from Norfolk, England, covering the years 1832 to 1915. The collection consist of 290 volumes containing over 161,000 records and can be searched by year, division, or borough. The registers will reveal your ancestors place of abode, qualification, and address. This collection has been obtained from FamilySearch.

Electoral registers are lists, created annually, of people who are eligible and registered to vote. These lists would include reasons for eligibility, such as their ownership or occupation of a property as a tenant or in some cases as a lodger. Until 1918, the right to vote was closely linked to property. Electoral registers were first introduced in 1832 with the Great Reform Act. As the number of voters increased and polling days were reduced to one day, there was a need to establish the right to vote in advance.

Aberdeenshire, Banffshire & Kincardineshire Monumental Inscriptions
Over 21,000 records have been added to our collection of Aberdeenshire, Banffshire & Kincardineshire Monumental Inscriptions. The new additions cover 19 kirkyards across all three historic counties and consist of transcripts provided by the Aberdeen & North-East Scotland Family History Society.

Each transcript will vary depending on the age of the monument and its legibility. Monumental inscriptions are an excellent resource for family historians as many record the names of other relatives such as a spouse, children or parents, as well as their birth and death dates.

Yorkshire Parish Records
We’ve added thousands of new additions to our collection of Yorkshire parish records, including:

The new additions cover parishes across Yorkshire’s East riding and span the years 1538 to 1990. This week’s new additions are also available to browse.

Nottinghamshire Burial Index
Additional records covering Catholic burials in Worksop have been added to the Nottinghamshire Burial Index. The index now holds more than 678,000 records from 1569 through 1905.

Each record contains a transcription of original parish records and bishop’s transcripts, which are held at the Nottinghamshire Archives. The amount of information in each transcript can vary, but most will include a combination of your ancestor’s age at death, burial date, burial location & denomination. Images may contain additional notes on their marital status, cause of death, occupation and other biographical details.

NGS Opens Registration for a Guided Research Trip to 2 of our Nation’s Important Repositories

The following Press Release was received from Patricia Walls Stamm, CG®, CGLSM*

The National Genealogical Society Opens Registration for a Guided Research Trip to Two of our Nation’s Important Repositories

FALLS CHURCH, VA, 15 FEBRUARY 2018Explore the Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives—one of our nation’s most extensive repositories — and the Max Kade Institute, a notable source of German and German American research materials. Sign up today for the National Genealogical Society (NGS) guided research trip to Madison, Wisconsin, 6–10 August 2018. Registration is limited to thirty participants.

The Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) Library and Archives’ genealogy and history collections are national in scope, including records of people who lived or passed through its territory as well as throughout the U.S. Its collection of newspapers, journals, magazines, and union and guilds publications from around the country is only surpassed by the Library of Congress. The Society’s Draper collection of 491 volumes (ca. 1775-1815) concentrates on the area known as “Trans-Allegheny West,” including the western Carolinas and Virginia, some portions of Georgia and Alabama, the entire Ohio River valley, and parts of the Mississippi River valley.

Family historians will find material on Native American tribes, French-Canadians, Northern Europeans—primarily from Germany and Norway—African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics, all which called Wisconsin home. Records also cover the rise and diminution of miners, loggers, and railroad workers, and once held Confederate prisoners of war during the Civil War. Researchers also will discover records on Wisconsin’s northern neighbor Canada. In all, the WHS houses more than four million records and serves as the Wisconsin State Archives. The Wisconsin State Archives include state, county, and local government records. Land deeds, naturalization records, tax rolls, and court documents are just some of the original records that genealogists can access at the Archives.

Family historians with ancestors from Germany will be especially interested in visiting the Max Kade Institute. It has a robust collection of German-American newspapers, letters, diaries, and church and business records. The Institute is also an excellent resource for locating historic German-language, European towns and villages.

For genealogists with ancestors from Norway, Madison is home to the Norwegian American Genealogical Center & Naeseth Library. Its resources include emigration lists, Norwegian farm histories and topographical maps, printed histories, and files with information on obituaries, wedding and birth announcements, feature stories, and other events.

Research consultants Rev. David McDonald, DMin, CGSM, and Patricia Walls Stamm, CG, CGLSM ; insure that your introduction to these institutions is both productive and enriching while conducting your personal research.

The trip includes:

  • Online orientation to prepare for your research trip to Madison;
  • Four nights at the Lowell Center, including daily continental breakfast and free internet in rooms;
  • Meet and greet on Monday afternoon at the hotel;
  • Orientation and tour at the repositories;
  • Four days of personal research;
  • Individual research consultations with group leaders throughout the trip;
  • Fees, taxes, and gratuities (unless otherwise stated).

Space is limited to only 30 individuals. To make your reservation or to learn more, visit .

Founded in 1903, the National Genealogical Society is dedicated to genealogical education, the highest standards of research, and the preservation of genealogical records. The Falls Church, Virginia, based nonprofit is the premier national society for everyone, from the beginner to the most advanced family historian, seeking excellence in publications, educational offerings, and guidance in research. It also offers many opportunities to interact with other genealogists.

New or Updated Historic Record Databases at the Week of February 12, 2018

The following was received from FamilySearch:

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Find your ancestors on FamilySearch with new historic records published this week from BillionGraves, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, England, Panama, Russia, and Slovakia. Search these new free records by clicking on the collection links below or search over 5 billion free records at FamilySearch.

Collection – Indexed Records – Digital Images – Comments

Searchable historic records are made available on through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published online at Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at

What’s Up With Leland & Patty… And a Bit of Orting History

I haven’t blogged a lot since last fall, as we’ve been totally distracted with getting our “new” old building into shape for the next decade or more of living, working and yes… even gardening.

You may remember that on the first of September, Patty and I bought the old Heritage Quest building in Orting.

After our purchase, Patty and I moved into the attached apartment, set up office spaces, remodeled storage areas, and roofed the patio along the side with fiberglass for a greenhouse. We repainted the entire exterior of the building. We then built raised garden beds along the side. Since it was fall, a good crop to put in was garlic – so we’ve now got hundreds of garlic plants growing beautifully next to the business (we like garlic!).

Finally, we laid a new subfloor, and vinyl throughout the entire front area of the building. This allowed us to upgrade our shelved stockroom area, as well as the purchase of another color digital printing press. We needed the upgraded floor to handle the massive amounts of weight from the print shop equipment, as well as the thousands of books ready for sale. By having two presses, we’re hedging against downtime when the machine is requiring service. The new press is also less costly to maintain – so we win all the way around.

A Bit of History of the “old Heritage Quest” Building.
The building was a Seventh-day Adventist church from 1912 through about 1986. The front portion was the church itself. About 1913, another building was brought in and set adjacent to the back, with the roof modified to slope away from the church. This area was used as a church school for a while. Along about 1955, a 20×30 building was built out back near the end of the lot. This was used for Sabbath School classes. About 1965, a 30×30 addition was added to that building as a fellowship hall, and about 1969 the structures were all tied together with one final addition.

As I remember it, the church typically had 30 to 40 folks in attendance each week. Patty and I started going there to church even before we were married in 1968, and were members there until the church closed its doors. It wasn’t that attendance was down or finances were an issue that the church closed. About that time, the Bonney Lake congregation nearby had grown to the point they wanted to build their own church. By combining the two groups, there would be enough people to undertake that project. So the Orting church closed its doors, and a new church was built in Bonney Lake. Patty and I moved our membership to Bonney Lake, as did most everyone else. By the way, the Church Clerk’s records for the Orting S.D.A. Church are held by the Washington Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Federal Way, Washington.

My brother, Steve, and I had started Heritage Quest five miles outside of Orting in 1985. Patty continued to work as a nurse at Enumclaw Community Memorial Hospital, essentially financing our family while we threw all available cash at Heritage Quest to get it started. A year or two later, we moved the business into town, setting up our editorial offices, print shop, and library on Washington Avenue (Tim’s Kitchen is there today) . The old church sat empty for a while. Eventually, I made the church an offer, which they accepted, and we moved the editorial offices and library into the old church building. That was the point that it became what’s now known as the “old Heritage Quest” building. The library really took off. Patty’s father, Home Daffern, built over 1000 feet of book shelving in the front portion to handle the influx of donated and book review books. That library operated there until the latter part of the 1990s, when it moved to Sumner. It continues to operate very successfully today as the nonprofit Heritage Quest Research Library (HQRL).

Heritage Quest was sold to American Genealogical Lending Library (Bountiful, Utah) about 1992 – and the building went along with the sale. They later sold the building to my brother, Steve Meitzler, who moved his printshop operations into it. Steve remodeled the entire facility, upgrading it from the ground up. The front area became the print shop, and the back areas became an apartment and rental offices. In 2014, Steve again made huge changes to the back, turning the offices and apartment into one 3-bedroom apartment of nearly 2000 square ft.

Mississippi Historical Timeline, 1673-1820

The following article was written by my good friend, William Dollarhide, and is taken from his book, Mississippi Censuses & Substitute Name Lists 1719-2010.

1673. Mississippi River. French explorers Jacques Jolliet and Louis Marquette left their base at Ste. Sault Marie, and made their way to the Illinois River, which they descended to become the first Europeans to discover the Mississippi River. They floated down the Mississippi as far south as the mouth of the Arkansas River before returning to the Great Lakes area.

1682. Mississippi River. Following the same route as Jolliet and Marquette, René-Robert Cavelier (Sieur de LaSalle) floated down the Mississippi River, continuing all the way to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. He then claimed the entire Mississippi Basin for Louis XIV of France, for whom Louisiana was named.

1698. Spain was competing with France for territory on the Gulf Coast, but except for Pensacola in 1698, Spain’s early colonies were in the East Florida region.

1699. Mississippi.
The French established the first settlement on Biloxi Bay at Old Biloxi (now Ocean Springs).

1702. Mobile was founded by the French as Fort Louis de la Louisianne. Mobile became the first capital of French Louisiana.

1716. Mississippi. Natchez was founded by the French, their earliest settlement on the Mississippi River.

1718. New Orleans was founded by the French. In 1722, New Orleans became the new capital of French Louisiana.

1719. New Biloxi, founded in 1719, was the capital of French Louisiana until 1722, when New Orleans replaced it.

1763 Treaty of Paris. Until this year, many cross-claims to territory in North America existed between the French, British and Spanish, and it took a war to settle the issue of land ownership. In Europe it was called the Seven Years War, but in colonial America it was called the French and Indian War. France was divested of virtually all of its large North American claims. The British gained undisputed title to Acadia/Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and Quebec; plus all lands between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mississippi River. Spanish lands were recognized as those former French lands west of the Mississippi, renamed Spanish Louisiana. Just prior to the 1763 treaty, France had transferred title of Louisiana to Spain, including the area from Baton Rouge to Pensacola. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, the Spanish then traded all of Florida to the British in exchange for Cuba. The British immediately divided the area into West Florida with a capital at Pensacola, and East Florida, with a capital at St. Augustine.

1776-1783. During the Revolutionary War, the Spanish captured Mobile in 1780, and Pensacola in 1781.

1783. East Florida was returned to Spain by the British at the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the end of the Revolutionary War. The 2nd Spanish era included all of present Florida

1783-1796. Spain and the U.S. both claimed the area between Latitude 31o and Latitude 32o 30′ of present-day Mississippi and Alabama. This disputed area was left out of the U.S. in the Treaty of 1783, and remained in dispute with Spain until 1796.

1789-1803. Georgia’s claim to huge tracts of western land, extending across both present-day Alabama and Mississippi to the Mississippi River, was to be the scene of some extraordinary and flamboyant land trading schemes. Two notorious land scandals emerged during this period: 1) From 1789 to 1796, three Governors of Georgia made gifts of land covering more than three times as much land as Georgia contained. Mostly centered in Montgomery County, Georgia, the Pine Barrens Speculation was the basis for a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1810, the first time the Supreme Court ruled a state law unconstitutional 2) The 1794-1803 Yazoo Land Scandal involved the Governor and other Georgia state officials accepting bribes in return for land sales to speculators in the region of present-day Mississippi’s Yazoo River area, land that was later ceded by Georgia to the U.S. Public Domain.

1790. Federal Census. The present-day area of Alabama and Mississippi was part of Georgia, part of the disputed area, and part of Spanish West Florida at the time of the 1790 federal census. Although there were American settlements at Natchez and north of Mobile, no federal census was taken there. Georgia’s 1790 federal census was lost.

1796. In the 1796 Treaty of San Lorenzo (also called Pinckney’s Treaty), the U.S. resolved the Spanish-U.S. disputed area by purchasing the area from Spain. The lands above West Florida (Latitude 31o up to 32o30′) became U.S. territory. The purchase did not include East Florida or West Florida.

1798. Mississippi Territory was created within the lands purchased in the 1796 Treaty of San Lorenzo. Natchez was the territorial capital.

1800. Federal Census. Georgia’s 1800 federal census jurisdiction included Indian lands in present-day Alabama and Mississippi, but no whites were enumerated there. The entire GA 1800 census was lost. Washington County, Mississippi Territory was enumerated in the 1800 census, but that census was also lost.

1802. Georgia Land Cession. In this year, the portion of present-day Alabama and Mississippi above Latitude 32o 30′ was ceded by Georgia to the U.S. federal government’s “public domain.” An amount of 1.25 million dollars was finally negotiated in 1802, paid to Georgia as compensation. The area of land ceded by Georgia ran from its present western boundary west to the Mississippi River, and north from Latitude 32o 30″ to 35o. Later, Georgia’s ceded area was added to Mississippi Territory.

1802. Spain finally gave up in Louisiana and retroceded the entire region back to France in exchange for a duchy in present Italy. The area of West Florida was not mentioned in the treaty, but Spain continued to occupy the areas east of the Mississippi River as part of Spanish Florida.

1803. When the U.S. ministers James Madison and Robert Livingston negotiated the purchase of Louisiana from Napoleon, they were led to believe that the area included West Florida.

1803. Spain threatened war if the Americans attempted to occupy the West Florida region. It was an idle threat, because the extent of Spain’s military presence in the area was about 20 soldiers billeted at Baton Rouge.

1804. Mississippi Territory. Congress officially added the 1802 Georgia land cession to Mississippi Territory, more than doubling its size, from Latitude 31o to Latitude 35o.

1806 Federal Horse Path

1806. The Federal Horse Path. The time it took for mail via express riders between Philadelphia and New Orleans was cut from five weeks to three weeks, after the opening of the Federal Horse Path. A treaty with the Creek Nation, which encompassed a large area of present-day Georgia and Alabama was necessary to clear the pathway, beginning at the Creek Indian Agency (now Macon) and through Mississippi Territory and Spanish West Florida to New Orleans. With federal funds, the same route was continually improved and became known as the Federal Road, the primary route for thousands of Scots-Irish families migrating into the Deep South.

1810. Federal Census. The census was enumerated in Georgia and Mississippi Territory, but none of the original manuscripts have survived.

1810. West Florida Annexation. In September 1810, a group of rebel Americans overcame the Spanish garrison at Baton Rouge, and unfurled the new flag of the Republic of West Florida. In October 1810, in a proclamation by President James Madison, the U.S. annexed part of Spain’s West Florida, an area from the Perdido River to the Mississippi River, including Mobile, Biloxi, and Baton Rouge. The area was not officially organized for another two years. Spain did not recognize the annexation, and continued their claim to West Florida in dispute with the U.S.

1812. Mississippi Territory and Orleans Territory. The portion of the West Florida Annexation from the Perdido River to the Pearl River was recognized by Congress and officially added to Mississippi Territory. The portion from the Pearl River to the Mississippi River was added to Orleans Territory.

1817. Alabama Territory was created on 3 Mar 1817, taken from Mississippi Territory with nearly the same boundaries as the current state bounds. St. Stephens was the first territorial capital.

1817. Dec 10th. Mississippi became the 20th state in the Union with nearly the same boundaries as today. Washington was the first state capital, replaced by Jackson in 1822.

1819-1821 Adams-Onis Treaty. By 1818, Spain had effectively abandoned Florida and was unwilling to support any more colonists or garrisons. In 1819, the Adams-Onis Treaty formalized Spain’s cession of East Florida and West Florida to the U.S. in exchange for the U.S. paying any legal claims of American citizens against Spain, up to 5 million dollars. But, the treaty also set the boundary between the U.S. and New Spain (now Mexico), from Louisiana to the Oregon Country. Although Baton Rouge, Biloxi, and Mobile were annexed to the U.S. in 1810, then organized in 1812; they did not become U.S. territory free of dispute until the Adams-Onis Treaty was ratified by Congress in 1821.

1820. June. Federal Census was taken in the state of Mississippi. The population was 75,448 people. The 1820 was the first federal census year for which the population schedules have survived for all counties.

1820. July. The Alabama-Mississippi boundary line was resurveyed and it was discovered that a tract of land lying along the east side of the Tombigbee River which had been attached to Alabama was really in Mississippi.

Further Reading:
Mississippi Censuses & Substitute Name Lists, 1830-2002, 83 pages, softbound, Item FR0257.
Mississippi Censuses & Substitute Name Lists, 1830-2002 (PDF Version), 83 pages, Item FR0258.
Mississippi Censuses & Substitutes, a Genealogists’ Insta-GuideTM, 4-page, laminated, 3-hole punched, Item FR0327.
Mississippi Censuses & Substitutes, a Genealogists’ Insta-GuideTM, (PDF version), 4 pp, Item FR0328.