Saturday, September 03, 2011

Surprises in Kentucky Tax Lists

Most Tax Lists are pretty straight forward, giving name and tax paid on a certain parcel of land or maybe some personal property. Not much more useful information can be gleaned from them. In doing research on my Kentucky ancestors I have found a wide range of types of Tax Lists. I most usually use tax lists for those time periods that precede the census year 1850 so I can get more details on this person or to help me find them in a certain area. But in using Kentucky Tax Lists I have found a few nice surprises.

I was tracking my 4th great grandfather, John Booth's, movements in Kentucky. After compiling a timeline I found there were a couple of large time gaps from the time he left Harrison County, Virginia (now WV) in the 1780s til the time of his marriage to Sarah Kinder in 1792 and then his final move to Jefferson County, Indiana in the 1810s. He didn't show up in the census records for these times, and they might not have even had a census taken during these times. I found these tax lists for Shelby county: 1795, 1796, 1797(he's not listed), 1799, 1800, 1801(not listed), 1805, and 1808. Most of these Tax Lists only had him listed as paying tax on a horse. The surprise I did find though was in 1796 his name is right next to a James Booth, which from later research I found out was a brother. This was a nice surprise! But these dates he did show up in helped me to fill in the years he was actually in Shelby County, Kentucky.

The next instance of using Kentucky Tax Lists was when I was trying to get a lead on my Bolen line by tracking down a brother to my 3rd great grandmother, Nancy Ann Bolen. I had hit a brick wall with this family so I decided to try to find something on the brother, George Washington Bolen/Boland. George was found in the 1840, 1850 and 1860 census records in Kentucky, but I needed to find him before that time and maybe even the years between since he had moved around quite a bit. He was in the 1838-1841, 1846, and 1848 Tax Lists for Russell County, the 1842 in Casey County, and 1853 for Meade County. I found several nice surprises and more info to follow up on. There were other Bolens that I could check on for any connections. I found that George had paid tax on some land - another set of documents to check. Then I noticed one other Bolen was in most of the same tax lists wherever I found George, an Andrew Bolen. This could be an important lead.

One other important find was that in the 1840s and 1850s tax lists these could serve as an early census. If you don't check all the headings at the top you might miss it, but there was a column on the far right of a 2 page census that read "Number of Children Between the Ages of ..." This helped me to pinpoint the right George Bolen in each area as there was another George Bolen in one of these counties. By tracking the number of young children I was able to discern the older George Bolen from my younger one.

As to where I have gotten access to these Tax Lists, my first resource was the Indiana State Library being a close drive for me. They have a pretty nice collection on microfilm. And when I do make a trip to Kentucky, I have used the microfilm collection of the Kentucky Historical Society's library. I also rented microfilm through the Family History Library. That's nice to use when I need Tax Lists for states that are farther away. Of course, there are many free indexes that can be found on USGenweb. I'm an avid Tax List researcher and the more information I can find on my ancestors can only help me to fill in the time gaps. And, you never know what more you'll find.

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