Michael Ports continues his assault on Jefferson County, Georgia, source records with this ambitious transcription of county tax lists for the years 1796, 1799, 1801, 1802, and 1803.
As anyone familiar with Georgia genealogy will recall, surviving Georgia tax digests are a significant genealogical resource, especially prior to 1820, a period in which virtually no federal census schedules exist for the state. During this census hiatus, every free Georgia man, from 21 to 60 years of age, was subject to the poll tax. All property owners, regardless of age or sex, were taxed for each of their slaves and all of their land and improvements. Moreover, taxes were levied on specific professions, such as doctors and lawyers, carriages, billiard tables, and stock-in-trade.
Mr. Ports’ transcription, arranged chronologically and thereunder by the various Jefferson County militia districts where taxpayers resided, was compiled from the microfilm of the original record volumes made in 1958 at the Court of Ordinary in Louisville by the Genealogical Society of Salt Lake City, Utah. A single, comprehensive full-name index follows at the back of the volume. Mr. Ports has provided a very helpful introduction explaining his methodology, the county’s procedures for assessing and collecting the required taxes, and a map of the Jefferson County militia districts. A more detailed discussion of the specific tax laws and the militia districts follows the introduction.
The author presents the tax digests in a series of tables containing five columns. The first column contains the name of the taxpayer and the second his poll. The third column includes the number of slaves owned by the taxpayer. The fourth column includes a description of the land owned by the taxpayer, consisting of the number of acres of first, second, or third quality oak and hickory land, and pine land. Each tract usually is identified by the name of a watercourse, adjoining landowner, and original grantor, and occasionally with other descriptors. Usually, but not always, the digests include the number of town lots owned, whether the lots were improved or unimproved, the lot numbers, the value of the lots and improvements, and the name of the town where the lots were located. The fourth column also includes the number and type of the carriages, the number of billiard tables, and the market value of the stock-in-trade owned by the taxpayer. The fifth column includes the total state and county tax assessed against the taxpayer. If not otherwise noted, all of the various identified tracts of land were in Jefferson County.