Bell Anthology - Tax Lists

The Raymond M. Bell Anthology

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 
           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 
      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.