For a large portion of the 19th and 20th century, directories that provided travelers, business-people, and others with needed information about distance places were published. The ones called gazetteers (geographical dictionaries) described towns, villages, counties, rivers and other natural features. Depending on the amount of content in one of these interesting works you may find information on population, the types of businesses and institutions in the community, the different religious denominations, and public works in the area. State directories usually contained much more information for these publications were similar to the city directories that started getting published once telephones became common place. The names of all the merchants, farmers, manufacturers, mechanics and officials in a community, as well as a full description of the town, village or hamlet are usually found. To give you some idea of the matter contained in these directories, I scanned a part of a page from the R. L. Polk & Co’s Peninsula Director of the Eastern Shore of Maryland for 1908 -09
This entry is for the village of Pilot located in northwestern Cecil County, near Conowingo and Bald Friar. Twenty-five miles from Elkton and nine miles from Rising Sun, the directory reported that Pilot had a population of 200 people. It also had a dressmaker, grocer, blacksmith, and a couple of carpenters and poultry-men. The directory also lists the farmers in the area.