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Nick
08 June 2009, 12:31 PM
I have a few USA place names to record. Some of these include a county, such as:

Thornwood, Westchester County, New York State, USA

I see from my gazetteer that there is only one Thornwood in New York state. Would it be 'wrong' to abbreviate the entry to:

Thornwood, NY, USA

I'd be grateful for any thoughts on this.

theKiwi
08 June 2009, 03:56 PM
I would use

Thornwood, Westchester Co., New York, USA

for this - the Co. is an abbreviation for County which I use, and explain on the footer of all pages on the website, and USA is a widely recognised abbreviation for United States of America.

For one thing it keeps places organised in a hierarchy where the 3rd entity from the right would be a County/Parish, and sets the opportunity to avoid situations where there is a place of the same name in multiple counties in a state - Union is a good example - there are 97 places called Union in the USA - 10 of them in Alabama, 9 in Georgia to just list 2 of the states with multiples.

Note that not all US states have counties - Louisiana for example has Parishes, so I'd use

New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, USA

in such a case.

Roger

dfilpus
08 June 2009, 04:29 PM
Vital records are usually stored in the county records. Having the county simplifies finding vital records.

Place names have a shorter lifespan than county names. Many records refer to community names which may no longer exist or were never formally recognized. It may be only one Thornwood in New York State in your gazetteer, but there may have been more communities called Thornwood in the past or more created in the future. Thornwood may be incorporated into a larger community in the future and become harder to find. Keeping the county limits the information drift.

Nick
08 June 2009, 04:47 PM
Thanks Roger the Kiwi and dfilpus. I certainly see that places can come and go within a state, and will restore the counties I took the trouble to eliminate (should have asked before I did it!). Luckily not too many in the New World...

gilbertdh
10 June 2009, 01:39 AM
Nothing is ever simple. In some states cities and towns are separate entities and are not part of a county. The City of Virginia Beach now occupies the entire space that was once Princess Anne County, which no longer exists. And the city of Martinsville, for example, is independent from Henry County which totally surrounds it. It would be inaccurate to say Martinsville, Henry Co., Virginia, and you couldn't say Virginia Beach, Princess Anne Co., Virginia. I don't know if this situation is peculiar to Virginia.

theKiwi
10 June 2009, 07:24 AM
Nothing is ever simple. In some states cities and towns are separate entities and are not part of a county. The City of Virginia Beach now occupies the entire space that was once Princess Anne County, which no longer exists. And the city of Martinsville, for example, is independent from Henry County which totally surrounds it. It would be inaccurate to say Martinsville, Henry Co., Virginia, and you couldn't say Virginia Beach, Princess Anne Co., Virginia. I don't know if this situation is peculiar to Virginia.

No, it's not unique to Virginia, although it is prevalent there.

Saint Louis, Missouri, USA and Baltimore, Maryland, USA are a couple of other such a places.

Roger

dfilpus
10 June 2009, 11:21 AM
Nothing is ever simple. In some states cities and towns are separate entities and are not part of a county. The City of Virginia Beach now occupies the entire space that was once Princess Anne County, which no longer exists. And the city of Martinsville, for example, is independent from Henry County which totally surrounds it. It would be inaccurate to say Martinsville, Henry Co., Virginia, and you couldn't say Virginia Beach, Princess Anne Co., Virginia. I don't know if this situation is peculiar to Virginia.

Philadelphia and Washington DC are also Independant Cities (cities that are not part of a county).

To handle this you can treat the independent city as a county, "Virginia Beach, Virginia", which sorts the independent cities among the counties or treat the city as not having a county, "Virginia Beach, , Virginia", with sorts the independent cities to the top of the state. The latter also can indicate an unknown or undocumented county.

New York City is a special case. Each of the buroughs of the city is treated as a county. Before the amalgamation into New York City, each of the buroughs was a county. Thus, there are places documented as "Kingsbridge, Bronx Co., New York (State)" which now would be documented as "Kingsbridge, Bronx (Burrough), New York City, New York (State)". To make it even more confusing, the borough and county names do not all match, even though they cover exactly the same territory. The Borough of Brooklyn is Kings County. The Borough of Manhattan is New York County. The Borough of Staten Island is Richmond County.

Documenting places in Reunion is problematic. There have been other threads in this issue.

jep111
17 June 2009, 04:20 PM
This also brings up the historical vs. current location. There are many places where the particular town or village (and sometimes even the house) have never moved, but their physical description has not only changed counties, but even states and countries!

The two schools of thought are:

Describe the place as it would have been described at the time of the event you are recording;

Describe the place so that someone can find it today.

Both have their problems, and both really require a note referencing the other description.

Cheers!

John

Bob White
17 June 2009, 11:02 PM
A couple more examples to illustrate differences:

California has 58 counties and a couple hundred official cities. San Francisco is both. It is officially The City and County of San Francisco. :)

Over the history of California, there have been four towns named Oregon City -- all in different counties.

Without doubt, fellow ReunionTalk members can come up with many of these odd examples. Bottom line is that one should include all of the political divisions whether they be called county or parish or whatever....