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What’s in a Name?

Image of the Libertyville Sign

Did you know that Libertyville has not always been Libertyville? That’s right! The town whose residents started the Cook Memorial Public Library District has been known by several other names. In the past, Vardin’s Grove, Independence Grove, and Burlington were all used in lieu of Libertyville. Also, one of these precursors (Burlington) briefly served as the county seat at the inception of Lake County. For more information, check out the History of Libertyville page and the Library’s Local History blog.

In genealogy, identifying our ancestors’ towns is so important! Oftentimes, this is the only way to locate vital records and other documents (e.g., church records) that contain information about their lives. This works in the United States and across the world. Like with Libertyville, you may find that your ancestors’ towns have changed names and/or counties…even countries!

Image of an Old Birth Certificate from MicrofilmBut how can I find their towns? To find the towns where your ancestors were born or lived, you may have to look in various places. If you have a copy of one of their vital records (birth, death, marriage), you may have a potential lead. If you have a copy of a church record, you may have an additional lead. If you are lucky enough to find them on a census record, you have yet another lead which may even contain information about their birth towns/countries! If they have less common names, an online search of newspapers may prove fruitful. As you can see, it may take a variety of resources to identify their towns, but once you do, you can move forward with learning more about them and their towns.

Now, how can I find historical information about those towns, you ask? Well, you can use resources like gazetteers and directories to find out more about an area’s history and its residents. You may be surprised about the information that you find in these resources (like your ancestors’ occupations and employers)! You can also contact local historical societies that may be able to provide further context and help. Sometimes, there may be published histories of local towns, counties, and areas available online (through Ancestry, FamilySearch, or the Internet Archive) or in print at a local library or archive. Note, Ancestry can be accessed in the Library for free via the Databases page! In the end, these different resources can break down brick walls and open up new avenues for research.

Image of the Libertyville Days Festival & Parade LogoAs we celebrate Libertyville Days, take a moment to also celebrate those who have been a part of our town’s past. Perhaps that includes some of your ancestors? If so, check out the Library’s Local History page (including online newspaper links) and our Libertyville/Lake County genealogy resources. Happy researching!

Categories: Genealogy

Tags: Genealogy

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