NEW: Enjoy ALL of the map tools AD-FREE and FULL-SCREEN!

Over the years, I've had lots of requests for a way to subscribe to the various map tools on rather than having advertisements displayed.

This has been a challenge, as I want to keep the map tools free of charge for everyone to use, and the advertising helps offset the significant costs associated with the development and operation of the tools.

I'm excited to say that you now have an opportunity to choose what works best for you:

Free map tools supported by advertising, OR...
Make a small monthly contribution to enjoy AD-FREE, FULL-SCREEN map tools

The above screenshots are from the County Lines on Google Maps tool, but ALL map tools on now have this same look and feel.*

Here's how the ad-free version works:

  1. You decide how much you want to contribute as part of an automatic monthly subscription, $5.00 or $9.00 (both amounts give you access to all map tools; you decide how much value you feel you receive from the tools)
  2. You get access to ad-free, full-screen versions of ALL map tools for this flat monthly contribution
  3. You can cancel your contribution at any time and go back to using the map tools supported by advertising 

Contribute here:

A small monthly contribution gives you access to ALL MAP TOOLS AD-FREE and FULL-SCREEN
Google Account e-mail*:
* Requires a Google Account (free) to login to the Ad-Free map tools.  This is usually a Gmail email address, unless you sign into your Google Account using a non-Gmail email address.  (If you're unsure which email address you use to login to your Google Account, check by trying to login here)
- Requires a PayPal account to set up the monthly contribution; cancel at any time and go back to using free map tools with ads
- Typically within 5 minutes, you'll receive an email letting you know you can now Login to the Ad-Free Version of the map tools using your Google account; get in touch using the contact form below with any questions

I hope you enjoy this option!  If you have any questions, don't hesitate to get in touch.

Happy mapping!

* The ad-free version is available for ALL MAP TOOLS, including:

Have you tried AncestorSearch on Google Search for searching for ancestors (or living people) lately?

QUICK LINK TO THE TOOL:  AncestorSearch on Google Search

For a change, this post focuses on Google Search rather than the Google Maps tools on this website.

If you've tried searching for a mention of your ancestors (or living people) using Google Search, you've no doubt run into this little issue from time to time:
Google Search returns too many results

175 MILLION results?  OK, this might take a while...

Enter AncestorSearch on Google Search, a free search tool that uses Google search enhancements so that you are much more likely to find mentions of the ancestors (or living people) you're looking for that are otherwise buried in thousands of Google search results.  Basically, it uses Google advanced search operators behind the scenes so you don't have to spend time typing a bunch of awkward symbols.

An example is probably the easiest way to illustrate how AncestorSearch works.  Let's say I am looking for mention of a marriage of a couple of ancestors.  I might type something like this into Google Search:
OK, only 2,030 results to start to wade through ;)  But as I look through the first page of results, none of them pertain to my ancestors.

So instead, let's do the same search on AncestorSearch on Google Search:

In the above example, I've just typed in the names and locations into the appropriate boxes, then clicked the "Run Full Google Search" button in the lower right corner.  Another browser tab opens with the search results:

ONE result!  Nice.  And when I click the search result, it happens to been an archive page showing a full biography of my ancestors.  (You'll often get more than one result, but it will typically be a very manageable number)

So how does the AncestorSearch tool do this?  In short, Google advanced search operators.  The AncestorSearch tool doesn't do anything magical, but it's a big time saver over typing out all of those quotation marks, reverse name order, pipes and so on.  In the above example, this is the search string that the AncestorSearch sends to Google Search:

"adam smith"|"smith, adam" "caroline meinzer"|"meinzer, caroline"|"caroline meincer"|"meincer, caroline" "stephenson " marriage|married|marriages|wedding|wed|nuptial|nuptials|marry|intention 1860|1861|1862|1863|1864

Now, you can type all of that out manually into Google Search if you really want to...

Give AncestorSearch a try on your ancestors or on living people you're trying to find record of.  For example, Peter Calver, founder of LostCousins, stated in his newsletter "the first time I tried it, it led me to a new 'lost cousin'".

Here are some quick time-saving tips when using AncestorSearch:
  • Use the Tab key to move between input boxes
  • Use the Enter key when you're ready to perform the Google Search
  • Don't worry about upper case or lower case; Google Search is not case-sensitive
  • After you've searched, if you have too many or two few results, just close the browser tab that shows the search results, and make changes in AncestorSearch tab and try again
  • All of the boxes are optional, fill in as many or as few as you want
And here are a few power user tips:
  • If you have too many results, you can narrow the results by checking "Exact" for the year, or checking any of the Marriage, Births or Deaths checkboxes
  • If you're using a county name in the "Place" box, be sure and check that you're using the correct county name for the year you are searching by using this tool:  Historical U.S. Counties on Google Maps (I find it's best to try searching both with the current county name and then again with the historical county name, as there is a lot of inconsistency in how historical place names get recorded)
  • If you know that your ancestor's name is often misspelled, just add the alternate spelling in the "Alternate Last Name" box.
  • The AncestorSearch tool has recently been optimized so you can more easily use it on your smartphone as well!  
And finally, here are a few pro-power user tips:
    • Another way to narrow your results further is to check the "Only return search results where persons' names are within 10 words of each other" checkbox at the bottom of the tool (it does what it says on the tin)
    • If you are getting inundated with search results from the major people finder websites, check "Exclude search results from the major people finder search tools" to skip searching those sites
    • Use the "Other search terms" input box at the bottom of the form to add an additional search term, or to ONLY search one website by typing or to EXCLUDE search results from a particular website by typing
    • Multiple terms can be used in the "Other search terms" input box to add Google advanced search strings to your search, such as this (typed exactly as shown here): -"colorado springs" -denver
      This example excludes search results from and excludes search results that contain the phrase "colorado springs" and excludes search results that contain the word denver
    • You can "pretend" the last name boxes are first name boxes and vice versa if you want to type alternate spellings of a first name.  The tool doesn't care which is the first and which is the last name.
    • After clicking the "Run Full Google Search" button, you can edit the search string on the Google Search page that appears, or just close that tab to go back and refine your search 

    Did you make any new finds with AncestorSearch?  Please share them in the comments section below!


    Check out the new Custom Maps on Google Maps tool

    The new Custom Maps on Google Maps makes it easy to create your own custom Google Map using any combination of ZIP Codes, counties, cities and more!

    You can use this tool to quickly create:

    • sales territory maps
    • delivery area maps
    • service area maps

    ...all on Google Maps!

    If your territory is composed of dozens of ZIP Codes, you can choose to 'merge' them to show an overall territory boundary.  Then, add your own title to the map, and even choose colors.

    An example link you create looks like this:,10024,10025,10026&zipboundary=show&title=My+Service+Territory

    The resulting map would look something like this:

    Be sure and read the full instructions starting at "How do you create your own sales territory, delivery area, or service area map based on ZIP Codes?

    Some websites that make use of this custom map functionality

    What county am I in?

    "What county am I in?"

    That's one of the most common Google search terms that people use where appears in Google's search results page.

    Given that's evidently a popular query, I thought I'd make it easy for people to immediately get the answer to their question.  Just go to this page:

    Or even easier, you can just click this to see what county you're currently in:

    You'll get a map with the answer at the top, like this:
    what county am I in

    TIP:  If you're traveling about and already have the map open, you can just click the "⊕ Locate" button in the upper right corner of the map to update your location on the map.

    Why might this be useful?

    Well, if you're currently at home or your work office, you very likely already know what county you are in.  But if you're traveling, you might want to use your mobile phone to determine what county you are currently in.  Based on user survey results from this past summer, users commonly want to know their current county for these purposes, to name a few:
    • house hunting/real estate
    • determining sales territory
    • field research
    • volunteer/emergency work
    • determining jurisdiction
    • sales tax
    • various hobbies such as geocaching
    • general interest
    For this to work, you must have location services enabled on your mobile phone/browser/computer, and if asked "Allow to use your current location?", answer yes.
    Hope this makes it one step easier to find out what county you are in!