Of Tax Records and Federal Censuses: Roberts Men in Jackson Co., GA, 1849 – 1851

James R. Roberts (1828 – 1891) was my great-great-great-grandfather. His ancestry is a brick wall I’ve been chipping away at for several years. So far, I’ve identified at least two and possibly three siblings, but I still don’t know who his parents were.

One of the first records sets used to research 19th century ancestors in the US is the federal decennial censuses. James was married in 1853 in Jackson Co., GA, and all indications point to him living there for the remainder of his life. His brother, William, was enumerated in Jackson County from 1850 through 1880, and James was enumerated there in 1860, 1870, and 1880, but I have never been able to find him in the 1850 free population schedule. This bothers me quite a bit. If only I could find him in 1850, I often think, then perhaps I would find the evidence I need to link him to his parents. But there he is not, no matter how often I look or how thoroughly I search.

Fortunately, Georgia researchers have other records to draw from, including the many extant county tax records. Jackson County has a rich set of tax digests extending from the county’s earliest days through most of the 19th century with very few gaps. I had a little time last week, so I hopped on down to the courthouse in Jefferson, Jackson County’s county seat, and spent the afternoon reading those digests. I focused on the years 1849, 1850, and 1851, because those years’ tax records act as a substitute and supplement for the 1850 federal census.

The tax returns for these three years (1849 to 1851) have been bound into one volume with each year numbered separately.1 I read every line of every page for every year.

First, let’s look at the names I pulled (all of the Roberts given in the originals) and some brief information included in the lists. In the original, the names were generally given surname first. I’ve rearranged those here to make this post easier to understand. I’ve added some explanatory remarks for the same reason. The number at the end of each person’s information is the amount of taxes paid. Please note that I have omitted some information given in the original.

1849

  • Rogers Dist.
    • Page 42, line 5: Stephen Roberts, poll, .78
  • Stranges Dist.
    • Page 44, line 11: John Roberts, 77 1/2 acres in Jackson County, .51
    • Page 44, line 31: Chiner Roberts, poll, .39
    • Page 44, line 32: James Roberts, poll, .39
  • Wilborns Dist.
    • Page 62, line 30: John Roberts, poll, .39
  • Randolphs Dist.
    • Page 71, line 22: Lewis Roberts Ext, 132 acres in Jackson County, .42

1850

  • Rogers Dist.
    • Page 37, line 16: Stephen Roberts, poll, .25
  • Wilborns Dist.
    • Page 63, line 18: John Roberts, poll, .25
    • Page 63, line 35: Chiner Roberts, poll, .25
  • Randolphs Dist.
    • Page 70, line 14: Lewis Roberts Ext, 130 acres in Jackson County, .20 1/4
  • Hancocks Dist.
    • Page 76, line 25: James Roberts, poll, .25

1851

  • Capt. Rogers Dist.
    • Page 31, line 13: Stephen Roberts, 1 poll, .25
    • Page 32, line 1: William R. Roberts, 1 poll, 208 acres in Jackson County, .57 1/2
    • Page 32, line 2: James C. Roberts, 1 poll, .25
  • Capt. Straynges Dist.
    • Page 35, line 1: John Roberts Sr., 1 poll, 77 acres in Jackson County, .37
  • Wilborns Dist.
    • Page 55, line 29: John Roberts Jr[?], 1 poll, .25
  • Randolphs Dist.
    • Page 59, line 19: Lewis Roberts, 130 acres in Jackson County, .20 1/4
  • Hancocks Dist.
    • Page 63, line 2: James Roberts Sr., 1 poll, .25

Men aged 16 and older enumerated in the 1850 free population schedule of Jackson County:

  • Aaron Roberts, 78, born about 1772, South Carolina2
  • Robert Roberts, 75, born about 1775, Virginia3
  • Lewis Roberts, 60, born about 1790, South Carolina, $150 real estate4
  • James Roberts, 53, born about 1797, South Carolina5
  • John Roberts, 45, born about 1805, South Carolina, $200 real estate6
  • Chiner Roberts, 42, born about 1808, South Carolina7
  • John Roberts, 35, born about 1815, South Carolina8
  • Stephen Roberts, 31, born about 1819, South Carolina9
  • Aaron Roberts, 28, born about 1822, South Carolina10
  • William Roberts, 21, born about 1829, Georgia11
  • William Roberts, 19, born about 1831, Georgia12
  • John Roberts, 18, born about 1832, Georgia13

There are a couple of things readily apparent from a comparison of the information gleaned from each record:

  1. Aaron the elder and Robert were not named on any of the three tax lists examined. They were likely exempted from paying taxes due to their advanced age.
  2. The younger Aaron, one of the Williams, and the youngest John were also not named on any of the tax lists. The latter two men may have been too young, but Aaron was certainly of an age to have been taxed. (I am open to suggestions as to why Aaron the younger may not have been named, given his age.)

The remainder of the men can be matched from one record to the others, with one exception. The “matched men” are:

  • Lewis Roberts, born about 1790 in South Carolina, who owned 130 acres (more or less) in Jackson County in Randolph’s District
  • James Roberts, born about 1797 in South Carolina, and who paid taxes on one poll in first Strange’s District and then Hancock’s District; styled as James “Sr.” in 1851 when an apparently younger James was added to the tax rolls
  • John Roberts, born about 1805 in South Carolina, who owned about 77 acres of land in Jackson County, valued at $200 in 1850
  • Chiner [China] Roberts, born about 1808 in South Carolina, who paid taxes on one poll in 1849 and 1850, but not in 1851
  • John Roberts, born about 1815 in South Carolina, who paid taxes on one poll in Wilborn’s District
  • Stephen Roberts, born about 1819 in South Carolina, who paid taxes on one poll in Roger’s District
  • William Roberts, who was most likely the William born about 1829 in Georgia, and who first appears on the tax rolls in 1851 owning 208 acres in Jackson County

The exception is James “C.” Roberts who paid a tax of $.25 in 1851 in Roger’s District, and who was listed in the tax roll right next to William “R.” Roberts (probably the William aged about 21 in 1850). If these two Williams were indeed the same man, then it’s a very good bet that James C. Roberts is my 3rd great-grandfather, James R. Roberts. The William who was enumerated as being 21 in 1850 was, according to family tradition, James R. Roberts’ twin brother. That these two men both appear for the first time on the same year’s tax rolls, not long after each turned 21, and are listed right next to each other is a strong indication of their relationship.

My belief that James was in Jackson County before his marriage has been somewhat strengthened by a comparison of these records. Before drawing any firm conclusions, however, I would very much like to do a deeper analysis of who could be taxed in Georgia at what age; and the official date of the 1850 federal census versus the dates each Roberts household was visited and enumerated. I would also like to extend research into tax records from other years, since the above was never intended to be the end of this record set’s use. Finally, a deeper look at other period records is in order, especially given my ultimate goal to connect James with his parents, thus extending his lineage back one generation.

* * * * *

1. Jackson County, Georgia, Tax Digest 1849 – 51; Probate Court, Jefferson.

2. There appears to be a numbering problem on this page. Aaron may have been part of the next household, dwelling 442. Aaron Roberts (John Roberts Snr. household), 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson County, Georgia, Subdivision No. 45, page 30A (handwritten page 59), dwelling 441, family [blank]; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; National Archives and Records Administration micropublication M432, roll 74.

3. Robert Roberts household, 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 2B, dwelling 31, family 31; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

4. Lewis Roberts household, 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, pages 76B and 77A, dwelling 1127, family 1127; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

5. James Roberts household, 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 40A (handwritten page 79), dwelling 586, family [blank]; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

6. John Roberts Snr. household, 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 30A (handwritten page 59), dwelling 441, family [blank].

7. Chiner Roberts household, 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 29B, dwelling 435, family [blank]; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

8. John Roberts household, 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 39A (handwritten page 77), dwelling 572, family 572; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

9. Stephen Roberts household, 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 40A (handwritten page 79), dwelling 587, family [blank]; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

10. See footnote 2. Aaron Roberts (Betsey Roberts household), 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 30A (handwritten page 59), dwelling 442, family [blank]; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

11. William Roberts household, 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 39B, dwelling 584, family [blank]; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

12. William Roberts (Charles Mason household), 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 1A (handwritten page 1), dwelling 6, family 6; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

13. John Roberts (Elijah Lay household), 1850 US census, free population schedule, Jackson Co., GA, Subdivision No. 45, page 26A (handwritten page 57[?]), dwelling 381, family 381; Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009; NARA micropublication M432, roll 74.

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13 Responses to “Of Tax Records and Federal Censuses: Roberts Men in Jackson Co., GA, 1849 – 1851”

  1. You’re sure headed in the right direction here! Great research plan

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Judy, and for the compliment! :)

  3. I have some info on James & William Roberts (twins, Jackson Co GA). Contact me at
    amcelhannon@windstream.net
    Ann

  4. Hi do you think as I do that all of these Roberts are related to on another. Aaron Roberts born in 1772 in South is my 4th great grandfather on my mother’s side . thanks alot Zara Garrett Mercer

  5. Thank you for replying to my Question. Zara Garrett Mercer

  6. Do you have any updated information. We believe James Roberts born in 1797 in SC is my ggggrandfather, and we are seeking more information on him.

    David E. Roberts

    • I’m afraid this represents my latest research. This family isn’t a priority right now, as I’m deeply immersed in other projects. Perhaps after the new year I’ll be able to return to the Roberts.

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