Where on Earth
Historic or current place names?
The confusion about place names for events in the historical and genealogical literature is not going to go away. House numbers, street, city, municipality, county, territory, state country, and empire names change.
The question arises as to which place name one should record as the location for an event in a genealogical database? Should one record the name of the place as it was known at the time of the event, or the name of the place as it is now known? Certainly historic place names are required. The solution is to use both names.
If family tree software expects the current place name, then the historic place name must be recorded in the description field.
It takes time to research historic place names, and the sources of accurate information are not always immediately available. Some resources are listed at the bottom of this page.
An Example: Verona Township, Essex County, New Jersey, United States
Hopefully this revised article will give a more accurate representation of the changes that took place in the nomenclature for this particular location.
Verona Township, Essex County, New Jersey, United States, is an example of how changes in political boundaries have affected place names.
Verona Township, Essex County, New Jersey
The land that was to become Verona Township has gone through a number of iterations in political geography during the colonial and national periods. The following is a brief summary.
Under the Dutch
The land that is now Verona Township was part of New Netherland, a Dutch colony. In 1615 the Dutch built Fort Orange on Castle Island near the present Albany, New York, establishing their claim to trading rights in the area now New York and New Jersey. The land that was to become Verona Township was the domain of the Lenni Lenape, Native Americans. No Dutchman had ever been there.
Under the English
The land was part of the Province of New York, an English colony. In 1664 the English captured New Amsterdam and claimed all New Netherland. The land that was to become Verona Township was the domain of the Lenni Lenape.
In 1666, the founders of the city of Newark purchased from the Lenni Lenape land that extended northward to the Passaic county line and westward to the top of the Orange Mountains. The Lenni Lenape were no longer in possession of the land.
Under the Dutch Again
The land was part of New Orange, previously named New Netherland, a Dutch colony. In 1673 New Netherland was restored as a Dutch colony.
Reprint of 1685 Novi Belgii Novæque Angliæ (New Netherland)
Nicolaes Visscher I
Again under the English, then British in 1707
The land was part of the Province of East Jersey, a British colony. In 1674 the Dutch colony became New York again.
The land was part of Essex County, East Jersey, a British colony. In 1683 Essex County was formed from part of the Province of East Jersey.
The land was part of the Horseneck Tract, Newark, Essex County, East Jersey, a British colony. In 1701 a tract of 13,500 acres west of the present city of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey, was purchased from some Lenni Lenape. This area was known as Horseneck, and was part of Newark. Part of the Horseneck tract was later to become Verona Township, located in the valley between the First and Second Watchung Mountains.
Under the United States
The land was part of Caldwell neighborhood in Newark Township, Essex County, New Jersey, United States. In 1798 Horseneck was renamed Caldwell after the fighting parson James Caldwell.
The land was part of Caldwell Township, Essex County, New Jersey, United States. In 1892 Caldwell township separated from Newark. Part of the township was later to become Verona Township.
The land was Verona Borough, Essex County, New Jersey, United States. In 1907 the borough of Verona was incorporated in Essex County, New Jersey. In 1908 Cedar Grove was formed from part of Verona.
The land was Verona Township, Essex County, New Jersey, United States In 1982, Verona Borough became Verona Township.
Ludvik Mucha and Bohuslav Hlinka. The Scott Stamp Atlas, Prague: Geodetic and Cartographic Enterprise, 1987. This source is useful for global historic place names of political entities that have issued postage stamps 1840 to just before the date of publication.
Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
This database is or international searches place names around the world. It provides information including latitude and longitude, hisorical notes, the hierarchical position in geography, variant names, type of place, and sources.
GEOnet Names Server (GNS)
This database is a good resource for searching current foreign place names.
Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)
This database is useful for searching current place names in the United States and Antarctica.
Local Names, State of New Jersey
The State of New Jersey provides a table of current local names with municipality, and county for each.
New Jersey Place Names
A table identifies some historic place names with the current names in the present state of New Jersey. The list in incomplete, but useful.