Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Thanksgiving will soon be here. Because of the increasing amount of genealogical materials available online, family researchers have reason to be grateful for the ability to access various documents at any time. They should also be thankful for often overlooked records that are now available in printed form.

     Although tax lists are a useful tool in the search for ancestors, many family researchers bypass them because they are not easy to access. Two new publications by Marty Hiatt help to remedy that situation for one county in the Old Dominion: CLARKE COUNTY, VIRGINIA, PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX LISTS, 1836 – 1870. VOLUME 1 covers the years 1836-1853, while VOLUME 2 covers the years 1854-1870.

     Personal property taxes have been assessed and collected in Virginia nearly every year since 1782. A commissioner of revenue or his deputies compiled lists of names of free adult men and single women who owned taxable items, such as slaves, horses, carriages, gold watches, clocks, or pianos. Taxes on such items were sent to fill the state’s coffers.

     The poll tax (levied on males eligible for taxation) went to support needs at the county level. Depending on the time frame, the taxable age for white males varies from sixteen to twenty-one years. Since people did not like paying taxes in the past any more than they do today, the name of every 16 to 20 year-old-male may not necessarily appear or is indicated by a number in the lists. When a name does show up on the Clarke County tax list, one can be fairly certain that the individual was the head of a household.

     Generally, the lists furnish the names of the heads of household, the number of taxable white males, and the number of slaves and horses owned. Additional details, especially important to genealogists, may be the name of a minor for whom the head of the household was guardian. Lists for some years supply names of men who were merchants and free African-Americans who owned property. Some of the less common surnames found in these records over the years include BILLMYRE, BLAKEMORE, BONHAM, BURCHELL, CASTLEMAN, COPENHAVER, DEARMONT, DIFFENDAFFER/DIFFENDEFER, EVERHART/EVERHEART, HARDESTY, HAUNSUCKER/HANSUCKER, HUMMER, KENARLY/KENARLEY/KENNERLY, KERCHERVAL, KERFOOT, KOWNSLAR, LONGERBEAM/LONGERBEAN, MEADE, ROMINE, and WILLINGHAM.

     An excellent source of information for family researchers and historians alike, CLARKE COUNTY, VIRGINIA, PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX LISTS, 1836 – 1870: VOLUME 1, 1836-1853 and VOLUME 2, 1854-1870, will be valuable additions to library genealogical holdings. Perhaps in the near future, more county tax lists will become readily available in print.

     Both soft-cover books have attractive covers, a helpful introduction to the records, and an index to names that appear out of order in the text. Volume 1 has 192 pages and costs $23.00, while Volume 2 contains 242 pages and costs $25.50. To the price of the books, buyers should add the cost for shipping charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $7.00 for one book and $2.50 for each additional book. Both publications may be purchased by check, money order, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express from Heritage Books, Inc., 5810 Ruatan Street, Berwyn Heights, Maryland 20740. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-876-6103; fax 410-558-6574; e-mail ; website .

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