How do you personally write out independent cities

The independent cities in the US…how do you write them in your tree.
Legacy recommends this for “example” Lynchburg

Lynchburg, , Virginia, United States

it also says some folks use just

Lynchburg, Virginia, United States

Lynchburg actually is located within 2 different counties so that is no help. In this example Lynchburg became an independent city in 1852, before that it was a city in Campbell county

I have also seen on Familysearch it noted this way:
Lynchburg, Lynchburg, Virginia, United States

I do not like either option. (but the last I think is the best of the 3) Does anyone have a different way of doing this?

I have them listed directly beneath the state.

Is it really correct to say that Lynchburg is located “within” multiple counties, or rather that it lies “between” them?

By the nature of your question, are you not using the Place Format (auto place title) or is this a question of writing out the place name in a narrative note?

In a narrative note, I would put just Lynchburg, Virginia.

This is my Enclosed By settings for Lynchburg

A great source for County and State changes for the U.S. is

Beside the chronologies, there is a PDF file that overlays county lines through time with the existing counties seen below.

The independent cities may have originally been in a county. But they might either incorporated to divorce themselves of the county or had grown to encompass the original county.

“Of the 41 independent U.S. cities, 38 are in Virginia, whose state constitution makes them a special case. The three independent cities outside Virginia are Baltimore, Maryland; St. Louis, Missouri; and Carson City, Nevada. The most populous of them is Baltimore, Maryland.” -Wikipedia

Oh there are many more. In Massachusetts, we have 9 counties in name only.

We serve on juries by county but all courts are a state function. Likewise we still elect the county D.A. and sheriff but again, all their funding is by state and the sheriff only oversees the jails in the county and the movement of prisoners. They do not “patrol” the streets.

So all cities and towns in all but Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Norfolk and Plymouth are “Independent”.

actually I have that turned on, but the manual does not explain how to use it, so I am sure I have not done something I need to because it makes absolutely no difference in my place names

If you only have one entry in a place’s enclosed by tab, then you do not need a date; whatever the event date the place name will always return the same place title.

But as you are finding out, place names are not so simple.

Based upon my settings, an event that took place in Lynchburg in 1910 would display Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S.A.

An event at the same spot in 1863 would display Lynchburg, Campbell Co, Virginia, C.S.A.

Each place can have more than one Enclosed By entry with a span of time when it was true. Based upon the event date, Gramps will find the path through these options.

And the same is true for the Alternate names. Dates can be added in the name editor for when the name was true. Gramps can take these changes into account as well.

One of my favorite examples is Woodstock, Connecticut. These are the place names displayed for each date.

Woodstock, CT

The challenge is finding out about how a place changed through time.

You may have noticed that in my Lynchburg example, there was a Virginia entry with no dates as the last entry. When an event has no date, Gramps will select the path as if the date was 1 Jan 1. This is why I try to avoid "before <date>" especially for U.S. places. That Virginia entry with no date is my fallback entry for those events with no dates.

And to complete your day, there will be some changes to Places when Gramps 5.2 is released.

Thank you very much, I am experimenting with all of this right now. I think it will be very helpful.

I am still not sure how to format an independent city, even with this editor though, as I don’t want to have to remember that it is an independent city and I don’t have a county “missing”

If you look at the list of entries in Lynchburg’s Enclosed By tab (my post), “after 10 Jun 1902” Gramps will build the displayed name “Lynchburg, Virginia, U.S.A.”. There is no “County” entry in that event date’s path. According to the Commonwealth of Virginia, after 1902, Lynchburg was not in a County, so do not try to add one.

In this 1863 event Gramps will follow the Campbell Co entry. In Campbell Co’s place record, any date entered always goes to the Virginia place record (it is the only option). Once Gramps gets to the Virginia record in the date’s path there are other options; stop at Virginia, there being no other valid options, go to my U.S.A record or go to the Confederated States of America (C.S.A.) record. Based upon the 1863 date Gramps will select C.S.A. (Note: I have not completed the place setup for Colonial Virginia… yet)

I realize there is not a county, but for it just to say Lynchburg, Virginia, United States…well, that just looks wrong to me. Does anyone put something in the name itself, to denote it is an independent city?

oh and I found out I do not like the "enclosed by function. as it does not display the proper name within the program, it just displays the original name.

You could add “Independent City” as a county-like entry under Virginia (or “<independent city>”, etc) and add it to the City’s Enclosed By instead of going directly to the state’s record.

On a personal note, I tried that and found it “wanting”.

proper name ??

original name ??

when I enter anything in the enclosed by…

it does not show any variation, only the actual enclosed by place name. only if I go to the place “panel” does it show the name it is supposed to. but in the relationship it shows only the enclosed by name

In the Place views, the event edit window and the place selectors, the Place Title generated is always for today’s date. It it not until the event record is saved and displayed in an event list (or report) does the place display for that date.

oh OK, that does not help me then because I do not use reports. I think I will just put Independent City in the place name itself.
I really appreciate you working with me on this!

You can turn the automatic place title off in preferences. This will display the Title as a field that you can fill in as the static option for all events.

The place hierarchy view will then just become an organizing tool for yourself as the user to find the records you wish to add or edit.

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thank you! I will do that

Just to be pedantic…

No foreign government ever recognized the Confederacy as an independent country, although Great Britain and France granted it belligerent status.

I considered adding in Westsylvania since I have Whiskey Rebellion dead relatives who refused to acknowledge being born in Virginia or Pennsylvania. But that too only existed in their delusionary world view.

I have the Confederacy as a country because those states Did consider themselves separate from the Union. It is not so much what others thought but what they thought about themselves. They had a president, a congress.

And to be considered readmitted back into the Union, each of the confederate states had to ratify the 13th Amendment. So even though the Union did not recognize CSA legitimacy, those states were considered as something “other”.

From what I read this was individuals rising up and protesting. Did any state, county, organized community declare themselves outside or other than a part of Virginia, Pennsylvania and the new United States? In other words, did a Place declare itself a part of Westsylvania or was it just individuals?

If a definable place made such a declaration then the argument could be made to reference the place Westsylvania.

I’m afraid what you’ve read was highly edited history. There were multiple secession declarations, organizing, flags, & more trappings of a separate state. The Whiskey Rebellion was their Boston Tea Party. The American militia was raised and overwhelming force was brought to bear. The rebels surrendered with only a few casualties. The Alien & Sedition Laws were passed & used to prosecute any publishing of the movement or even the name ‘Westsylvania’.

Like the Presidential pardons later granted to the Confederate military, George Washington pardoned the rebels.

By the way, Washington had been given personal ownership much of a large portion of western Pennsylvania before the Rebellion and was a miserable absentee owner. (The ownership was seized from settlers having prior claim too.)


If Westylvania describes the place of your relatives’ events, then make it so.

If nothing else, you will send your contemporary relatives searching to find Westylvania on a map and you may just add to the base of knowledge as you just did for me.