4 Reasons You Can’t Find Your Ancestors’ Hometowns

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Tracing your way back to your ancestor’s hometown is nothing less than a genealogical feat. Most family researchers are able to trace back their bloodlines through centuries, making it all the way to their immigrant ancestors. Yet, finding an immigrant ancestor’s hometown is a whole different ballgame.


Complications usually occur because most immigrants record their country of origin, but these are only vague findings for genealogy research since they’re not too specific. This makes it very hard for family researchers to pinpoint the exact location on a map where they believe their ancestors to have originated.


Some other factors make it difficult for you to locate your ancestors’ hometowns.


Anglicized Names for Foreign Places

Over the centuries and geographical territories, a lot has been lost in translation. This is because, often, when foreign accents are used to discuss a specific place, the names can drastically change.


Similarly, many countries, such as Ireland, for instance, have shifted from Galic city names to Anglicized variations. This is why people with Irish ancestors sometimes have trouble locating their ancestor’s homelands.

Non-Standard Spellings and Spelling Errors

When your start going through records, you’ll realize very early on that there are different spelling variations for the same places in different records. Moreover, some records have the wrong spellings of certain places in specific documents.


As a result, it could be possible that the place you’re looking for is right there on the map, but you’re just unable to locate it because you’ve got the wrong spelling and incorrect records.

Places with The Exact Same Names

A lot of times, you may come across the name of the city or town your ancestor was from, and for a moment there, you’re going to feel like you’ve hit the jackpot. However, you might find out that multiple cities have that same name.


For instance, there are about 256 Midways and more than 250 Fairview in the US. Knowing which state the one you’re looking for is located in would narrow down the search significantly. However, sadly, most of the time, the records aren’t that specific or thorough.


There Have Been Boundary Changes

A black and white photo of a group of people having a picnic

Politics and history have significantly altered maps everywhere in the world. As a result, cities, counties, and countries have all had boundary changes and sometimes name changes.


A lot of family researchers forget to give relevant and necessary historical and political context to their research, which is why it can become almost impossible to find your ancestor’s homeland.


How To Find Your Ancestor’s Hometown?

In all honestly, finding an ancestor’s hometown does take serious work. But we do have tips that might help.


  1. Always be prepared for the possibility of spelling and name changes
  2. Use maps, special dictionaries, and encyclopedias to understand name changes and their reasons
  3. Use latitude/longitude coordinated after finding a location
  4. Use all the records and documents you can find to verify your clues and find new ones
  5. Look into A-Filesfor your immigrant ancestors


Also, if you’re still struggling, it might be a good idea to reach out to professional genealogists like the ones at DavisDNA And Family Research. We have a lot of experience with family research and offer vast range of genetic genealogy services and traditional genealogy services that could help you locate your ancestor’s hometown.

Here’s everything we offer.