The official census returns of 1790 are among the most important and dependable sources of genealogical and historical data. Unfortunately, the original census enumerations of Virginia were destroyed during the War of 1812, but in 1908, when the Bureau of the Census first published the 1790 schedules of the original states, a census of Virginia was reconstructed. This reconstructed census is based on manuscript lists of state enumerations made in the years 1782, 1783, 1784, and 1785; a tax list of Greenbrier County, 1783-1786; and a list of inhabitants and owners of property in the city of Richmond. These were the only documents that could be secured by the Bureau of the Census in 1908, and they represent thirty-nine counties and some 40,000 heads of families.
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