|Washington County (PA) Tax Lists|
Genealogists are accustomed to using estate, deed and census records, but tax lists should not be overlooked. Washington County was formed in March 1781. The first tax lists (for 1782) were made up in late 1781. At first, there were 15 townships. One went to Allegheny County in 1788 and 5 to Greene County in 1796. Bethlehem Township was divided and 9 new townships had been formed by 1810. See below for a summary. A man may not have moved, but the name of his township could have changed. These tax lists show: name of land owner, acres of land, horses, cows, sheep, slaves (counted the same as livestock). In 1783 there were 260 slaves in Washington County. If no land was owned, then only livestock are taxed. In addition, a still, a gristmill, a tan-yard or a sawmill are taxed extra. At first these valuation-tax lists were in pounds, shillings, pence. By about 1800 it was dollars. A duplicate was sent to the state - an additional tax by the state. Tax exonerations, because of Indian attacks, were made for all of Washington County in 1782 and for parts in 1783 and 1789. The federal direct tax (window tax) for 1798 gives description of every house over $100. It had nothing to do with the county tax. In the county tax single freeman are listed and taxed separately. Tenants or renters are sometimes called "inmates". The order of birth of the sons of a family can be determined by the order in which they are taxed as single men - generally beginning at age 22. The tax lists are alphabetized as far as the first letter of a surname. The B's mav be together, but not in order. On some occasions the name are alphabetized by first names. I t is well to look at the end of a tax list. Here are added sometimes names forgotten after the list was alphabetized. For example, in Morgan township 7 are added in the 1783 list. Before the state school law poor children are often listed. After a man's name may appear "gone", "removed", "deceased" "gone to Ohio", "gone down the river". The date of a man's death can be determined by the first year his widow is taxed. A number of interesting items can be found in these lists. Given below are the tax lists for Washington County before 1810. These are available in the Citizens Library. None is available for 1795, very few for 1790 1797 1798. There are some gaps. The 1796 list describes the buildings, e g cabinhouse and barn, the 1799 one gives occupations, e g carpenter. The valuation-tax list for 1783 shows that the tax was 5 pence to the pound i e 1/48. By 1800 it was 2 mills (1/500). The 1783 list is important, for it lists some persons who fled from Ohio County, Virginia, because of Indian attacks. There are also some who fled from Robinson and Smith Townships. The Nofsinger family is a good illustration of the use of these lists. The 1790 federal census for East Bethlehem Township lists: Peter 1 1 1, John 2 2 4, Rudolph 0 0 2. The last one is an error, for in 1800 it was 1 0 1. John Nofsinger is taxed only for horses and cows beginning in 1782 until he bought land in 1789. He sold it in 1801. Peter is taxed 1791-1800, not after 1800. He likely died in 1800. His widow is in the 1810 census. In 1794 John and Peter were each taxed for half the farm. Peter's first child was born in 1791. Clearly he was the oldest son of John. Taxed as single freemen were Andrew 1791, Daniel 1793, John Jr 1799. Rudolph is taxed 1791-1801. In 1801 he had 2 cows worth 4l2 2c. The 1802 tax list made up late in 1801 shows: Rudolph "deceased", John and John Jr each "removed". There is a note that John Sr had sold his farm to Abraham Kees. Beginning in 1802 John and John Jr are in Montgomery Co, Ohio. The marriage record (1780) of John's oldest daughter is in Frederick County, Maryland. Here is listed Rudolph as a widower marrying again. The 1796 tax list shows Rudolph as "old" and a tenant of John Nofsinger. Clearly, Rudolph is the father of John. There is no record of Rudolph's death. Do not overlook tax lists in your searches. Other counties, notably Cumberland County, have good tax lists. unfortunately, some do not. A state like Maryland has no tax lists. Tax Lists before 1810 Township Amwell 1782-96 1800-02 1804- 06 1809 East 1789 1791-96 1799-1809 Bethlehem 1782-83 1785-88 West 1789 1791-96 1800-01 1803 1805-09 Buffalo 1807 1809 Canton 1792-96 1798 1800-01 1803-09 Cecil 1782-89 1791-96 1800-09 Chartiers 1791-94 1800-01 1803-09 Cross Creek 1791 1793-94 1799-1802 1804-08 Cumberland 1782-96 to Greene Dickinson 1785-89 to Allegheny Donegal 1782-89 1791-94 1800 1802 1807 1809 Failowfield 1782-89 1791-96 1800 1802-09 Finley 1789 1791-94 1806-09 Franklin 1787-89 1791-96 to Greene Greene 1782-89 1791-96 to Greene Hanover 1786-89 1791-96 1800-09 part to Allegheny 1788 (to Beaver 1800) Hopewell 1782-89 1791-96 1799-1800 1803 1805-09 Morgan 1782-89 1791-96 to Greene Morris 1789 1791-96 1799 1801 1803-09 Nottingham 1782-83 1788-89 1791-96 1800-09 Peters 1782-89 1791-96 1800-03 1805-09 part to Allegheny 1788 Pike Run 1792-96 1800 1803 1805-09 Richhill 1792-93 to Greene Robinson 1782-89 1791-96 1800 1802-09 part to Allegheny 1788 Smith 1782-89 1791-96 1800 1802-09 Somerset 1782-89 1791-96 1800-01 1803-08 Strabane 1782-89 1791-93 1796 1798 1800-01 1803-09 Washington 1789 1791-94 1800-01 1803-09 Beginning in 1805: the 1805 list is called 1804-05, the 1806 list is called 1805-06 and so on. Raymond Martin Bell
This article was transcribed by Cecily Sprouse of Davis, CA in February 1998.
|Raymond M. Bell Anthology   Genealogy in Washington Co., PA|
Published with permission of Raymond M. Bell.