Knowledge of State and County lines is key to research
In her article, "State and County Lines May Lead You to Your Ancestors," Karan Pittman points the importance of knowing state and county creation dates, as well as boundary changes. Not only can county boundaries change, as one new county is carved from two or more others, but state boundaries have also been known to change. A family could become residents of a new state or territory, without ever moving a stick. So it was with the "Western Lands" of North Carolina -- in 1784 settlers in the western lands created the small, independent State of Franklin, in an audacious move that did not set well with North Carolina and was dissolved just four years later. However, the writing was on the wall, and in 1790, North Carolina ceded her western lands to the U.S. Government, and the area, known as the "Territory of the U. S. South of the River Ohio," was later to become the state of Tennessee. As Karan points out, knowledge of these geographical divisions is key to directing your research and understanding the social, economic, and political dynamics surrounding your ancestor's lives.