The Happy Map-Maker's Website

My hobbies are genealogy and making maps and everything related to maps. I am currently engaged in a project to map all the early land grants in Harford and Baltimore Counties in Maryland, which is about 98% finished, but never will be 100%.

A note: This web site is designed to be very simple and to be considerate to those who do not have high-speed Internet connections. There is no unnecessary graphics or glitz that just takes up download time, and I'll try to warn you on any link to a large file. Many of the pages and images require a large screen, preferably 1920 pixels wide. Most are not designed to be viewed on a small screen or I-phone.

I actually had a rep from GoDaddy (the company that I get to host the website) call me and imply that there was something wrong with this page since it was all "black and white".

Genealogy searching aids for Baltimore (City and County)

The Maryland Archives (and a few other sources) contain thousands of data items arranged in a manner that might make sense to the archivists - but is very confusing to most users who need to hunt around for things. When you get to an index on the Maryland Archives web site, some of them are difficult to use because a single data set contains hundreds of pages in alphabetical order, or is broken up into many small parts, so it takes a lot of time just to get to the right part of the alphabet. Another source is, but, here again, some indexes are very confusing, since they are computer generated, usually displaying in alphabetical order by whatever title had been entered for each item. Often, they are not in any meaningful order, or multiple data sets have been interleaved. I have been producing indexes for these indexes which help to save time.


Interesting map stuff

This link depicts the development of Baltimore and Harford Counties by showing the progression of land grants in Baltimore and Harford County   |   Harford alone

DeedMapper support files

I have been using a program called DeedMapper by Direct Line Software for all my land record research, having used it to plot over 20,000 surveys. My databases for Baltimore and Harford County are acessible below. Carroll County will be added when it is completed enough to share. DeedMapper provides a capability to place a map "behind" its deed display, which is essential in fitting together the "puzzle", and in understanding where each deed exists in the real world. I have used various tax and property line maps provided by the respective counties, since many of the original patent lines from the 17th century survive today in modern property lines. The following are the files you need:


Leases and land grants in Baltimore and Harford Counties

For the past 20 years, I have been researching land records for Baltimore County, which, before 1771, included Harford County. All the data has been plotted using a program called DeedMapper, so it was accessible only with that program. The latest version 4.2 provides a capability of creating a web site so that those without the DeedMapper program can see the plots and data associated with each plot. I have provided separate web pages for Baltimore and Harford Counties which show most of the tracts I have plotted. I still have a few hundred that have not been placed, like the pieces of a jig-saw puzzle that sit around the edge of the table until their place is found.

On each of these maps, leases are shown in gold, mostly from the 1740-1760 time period when the Proprietor was granting 99-year leases for land in the "Reserve". After the Revolution, many of these leases were incorporated into grants of land. Those shown in black are mostly patents, or grants of land. Each of these totals about 8 MBytes.


Note that these maps use SVG, a newer language for web browsers, so some browsers do not fully support them. They have been tested with the following and appear to function okay (but maybe with a few quirks due to the sad state of affairs with compliance with the "standard" by these companies):
  • Opera 11 and 12
  • IE 9 and 10
  • Firefox 18

Another way to look at these leases and grants is by using GoogleEarth. You must first install GoogleEarth on your computer (which is free). Then, after starting the program, "Open" one or more of the following files. (Or you may be able to click on the link, and then select "Open with Google Earth".)

When you point to a line, the corresponding label "bounces" and, if you click on the line, the identity of the parcel is shown. To highlight a property, right click on the "box" or line, select "properties", then "Style, Color", and change the color and width so it stands out.

Maps of several specific areas can be seen in the following. The following functions can be used on these maps:

  • Click on a parcel to highlight its boundaries and display information about it.
  • Shift, click on any spot for a full list of all land grants on this map.
  • Alt, click to alternate between a topo and tax map for the background.

Areas available:


These maps may not work with every version of every browser. This is due to the failure of the standards committees to produce a real, lasting HTML standard and of the companies for implementing their own "non-standard" extensions which they then had to abandon in later versions. These maps should work okay with Netscape 7, IE 7, Opera 8.5, and Firefox 3 and later.

Other info on land grants in Harford County

This section provides a list of all tracts plotted so far in Harford County, giving name, date, area, grantee, whom surveyed for (if different), reference, and grid location. >> More info

My Lady's Manor

This historic district is the 10,000 acre manor, mostly in Baltimore County and part in Harford, which the third Lord Baltimore granted to his fourth wife in 1713. Parcels were leased in the 1740's and 1750's and much tobacco was grown, which was rolled in hogsheads on the "Rolling Rd", or Joppa/Manor Rd to the port in Joppa (which goes right by my house). During the Revolution, the land was confiscated from its British owners and, after the war, was auctioned off, mostly to military veterans. >> More info

My ancestors

Besides mapping, I have spent considerable time tracing my family. >> More info


When not doing other things, my wife Kim writes and sings songs about experiences we have had in our many travels. Here is a collection.