These 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 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. Following his introduction and helpful discussions of the pertinent Georgia tax laws and Jefferson County militia districts, Mr. Ports presents his transcriptions in a series of five-column tables. The tables are arranged chronologically by tax year and thereunder by Jefferson County militia district. The first column lists the name of the taxpayer and the second column his poll. An entry of one indicates a male between 21 and 60 years of age, while an entry of blank, zero, or no poll indicates either a female, a minor male, or a male over 60 years of age. 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. Most of the tax digests also include lists of those owing taxes, called defaulters. Lists of defaulters usually were published in a local newspaper, often prior to the date of the official tax deadline. Thus, the lists contain the names of persons who had not yet filed their returns, as opposed to actual defaulters. Finally, Jefferson County Tax Digests, 1804-1808 concludes with a complete tax index to all persons named in the work.