Tips from the Pros: Tax Records, from George G. Morgan

Land and property records are among the most numerous of all documents in the U.S. and can provide genealogists with great information. Between censuses, tax rolls can confirm the presence of your land-owning ancestors at a particular place and time. The addition of an ancestor to the tax rolls indicates he or she arrived or purchased property in the area within the previous twelve to twenty-four months, while his or her disappearance from the rolls may indicate a property sale and/or a move from the area. In any event, tax records can point you toward other land and property records.

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7 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Tax Records, from George G. Morgan

  1. I found in the Kentucky Tax Records (early 1800’s) that as soon as they turned 18 and owned a horse they appeared on the tax rolls. This helped me verify the year of his birth. I don’t believe it had to be only land, but also included personal property of value.

  2. When a land owner dies, you’ll usually find the heirs either selling the property to an outsider, some selling to other heirs or dividing it between them. Anyway, you can find the widow, widower or children of the original taxpayer.

  3. How can a person access old tax records. I’ve found properties my families owned and a few wills but when I try to find tax records I’m told they don’t have them. Where do I look for them?

  4. Can you tell where such documents are available and whether they are available on the web? For example, in the states of Maine and Massachusetts would such records be local or state??
    Thank you.

  5. If your library does not have tax records on microfilm, could your library borrow the microfilm from your State library? If records have not been microfilmed, your library could ask if originals were given to an official depository, which is usually a large library at a college or university. You could ask the depository’s permission to go there to read the originals.

  6. The “experts” quote the obvious that tax records between censuses can be very helpful, but what the majority of us need is Internet access to actual documents, not free 7 day commercial trials. Most State Archives aren’t much better because you eventually have to travel to them, or pay a $20 out of state look up fee for each item you may not even be sure is there. Voting lists are another helpful record if you can access them.

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