Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Watchdog Wednesday with FamilySearch Labs in Jefferson County, Ohio

OK, time for some hard-core research help if anyone shares my distress with the online images of Jefferson County, Ohio, tax records on FamilySearch Labs. These are important records since census information for Ohio is way sparse in these early years.

The FSL site gives little information on these records and no table of contents, so even though these records cover every year from 1816 to 1828, a search on a name returns an image that is impossible to place in chronology unless you develop your own yearly table of contents. Note: this record set currently contains four eastern Ohio counties, and the only one I have dealt with is Jefferson. Anyone willing to share similar information for Columbiana, Guernsey, or Harrison counties is more than welcome. (Those using the underlying microfilm may experience a similar problem; I haven't done so.)

There are two time series for Jefferson, 1816-1825 (493 images) and 1826-1828 (699 images). For any given name search result, you can click over to the image. When that opens, the upper-right-hand corner will indicate which image you are at out of either 493 or 699. That tells you which era you are in (but only if you know the code). Within each era, you need to know at which image each year starts. Here is the table of contents as I have found it for the first series:

1816 tax records start at image 435 of 493
1817 tax records start at 464 of 493
1818 tax records start at image 1 of 493
1819 = image 30
"1819 and 1820" = image 62
1821 = image 129
1822 = image 184
1823 = image 256
1824 = image 312
1825 = image 434

In the second series of 699 images,

1826 = image 1
1827 = image 240
1828 = image 482

In some years, there are little extras thrown in (browse around image 60 in the first series) and as time goes on I think various kinds of taxes are listed separately. IOW, your research target may appear more than once under 1827 -- don't miss him!

Yes, I think this has implications for how to cite these records properly, but that is way beyond the scope of this blog post, especially at this time of night. Hope this helps!


cls said...


Tax records can be confusing. I've used them on microfilm for Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Kentucky and it's always an adventure trying to figure out what is going on in each year. I think this is a situation where, to do it right, we need to mine the history and law books to fully understand what was documented and why. It's a little easier to follow, I think, on microfilm than online images (though I'm certainly not complaining that Family Search is putting these up).

By about 1825ish in Ohio, there are both land and chattel (e.g. horses, cows) tax records (at least in the counties I've looked at), and yes, they are on the same film. I need to find out whether that is when chattel began to be taxed, or merely when the chattel tax records survived for my Ohio counties.

It looks like in your example of image 60, the distinction is not land vs. chattel, but resident vs. non-resident.

Thanks for discussing this important resource, and for the ideas about how to "code" the images.


cls said...

p.s. I really like how you've changed the daily blog themes!

Harold said...

Thanks, Connie. It is indeed an adventure; I just want to make it a tad more manageable! BTW, in Jefferson County, 1826 was the first year that personal property appears on the tax rolls.