Days Gone By - stories from the pastGenealogy Information

MONDAY MUSINGS: Why did my ancestor constantly move?

moving dayResearching in Alabama can be quite confusing at times because County lines changed often. Many times a family seems to have moved frequently when only the County lines changed while they remained on the same land for years.

Washington County is the oldest

Washington County is the oldest official county in the State of Alabama. It was created June 4, 1800, by proclamation of Governor Winthrop Sargent of the Mississippi Territory and named in honor of General George Washington. The original boundaries of Washington County extended 300 miles east to west and 88 miles north to south.

Sixteen counties in Mississippi and twenty-nine counties in Alabama were formed from Washington County. An 1804 map of the Mississippi Territory reveals the vastness of Washington County. Basically, the lower half to one-third of Alabama was in Washington County in 1803 while further south was Spanish Florida. You can see many historical maps on the University of Alabama website.

Controversy over land in Spanish Florida

There was some controversy over the land bordering Spanish Florida as well. Lines on a map do not always relate to border lines on land when property owners are involved.

If you know that your family resided somewhere in the lower third of Alabama and you hit a brick wall in research around the time Alabama became a state, it might help if you researched the following current Alabama counties in lower Alabama for records: Mobile, Baldwin, Clarke, Choctaw, Monroe, Houston, Geneva, Dale, Henry, Coffee, Covington, Escambia, Butler, Crenshaw, Pike, Barbour, Butler, Wilcox, Marengo, Dallas, Lowndes, Montgomery, Bullock, Russell, Lee, Macon, Sumter, Tallapoosa, Perry, Sumter, Hale, Greene, Autauga, and Elmore counties. One of them may have a record of your illusive ancestor.

ALABAMA FOOTPRINTS Exploration: Lost & Forgotten Stories (Volume 1) is a collection of lost and forgotten stories about the people who discovered and initially settled in Alabama.

Some stories include:

  • The true story of the first Mardi Gras in America and where it took place
  • The Mississippi Bubble Burst – how it affected the settlers
  • Did you know that many people devoted to the Crown settled in Alabama –
  • Sophia McGillivray- what she did when she was nine months pregnant
  • Alabama had its first Interstate in the early days of settlement

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Trae Haggard

    Mine followed the land – sharecroppers

  2. Crystal Maddox Martin

    Interesting story..I am always intrigued to know more about my ancestory

  3. Amy Parker

    This can also be said about North Alabama. Especially Cullman Co.! You can have a family in 3 different census records, in 3 different counties, but the family never moved. The Southern line of Cullman was not settled until well into the 1900s. As the leaders of City of Cullman did not want the town of Hanceville within the county line. It would be moved in and then get moved back into Blount County. It was only after the Governor step in and set the line as it is now.

  4. Mine came to Jackson Co. to purchase land when the native americans were moved. William Anderson Rash owned several thousand acres and was a successful planter. (The Stevenson Story) The family owns not one square inch of it today.

  5. Bina Bat Margalit

    This happened to my ancestors in Germany, too! Country lines changed. Sometimes they were French, sometimes German.

  6. Doc Teal

    I had a business for decades in the same exact location. They kept changing the name of the street. My address number remained the same. Once we tried to get a small business loan, but were turned down because we kept moving from place to place. Lol

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