by George G. Morgan Â
You would think that after all these years of researching my great-grandfather, Green Berry Holder, that there would be few resources I had not checked. However, I will be the first to tell you that there is always something new to find–and to learn.
U.S. federal census records are a common starting point for most American researchers after they have gathered information from home sources. The population schedules were used for censuses from 1790 to 2000, including the 1885 census for Colorado, the Dakota Territory, Florida, Nebraska, and the New Mexico Territory. The cost for the 1885 enumeration was split between the federal and state/territorial governments.
Population schedules are, of course, the most frequently used census record type. These are followed by mortality schedules (available for 1850-1885) and slave schedules (1850 and 1860). There were, however, other non-population census schedules used over time for the collection of other information. These include agricultural schedules (1850-1885), industry or manufacturing schedules (1810, 1820, 1850-1885), veteransâ€™ and widowsâ€™ schedules (1890), social statistics (1850-1870), and the defective and delinquent classes schedules (1880). We also use enumeration district (ED) maps (1880 to present).
The John F. Germany Library in Tampa, Florida, is my home library for genealogical materials. It is the fastest-growing genealogical collection in the state, and the past three years have seen monumental increases in both the print and microfilm collections. The newest microfilm received includes agricultural schedules for a number of places, including Georgia.
While I have always meant to visit the local LDS Family History Center to order these films from Salt Lake City, I just never quite found the time. Suddenly I have the film within my immediate reach, no waiting required, and I finally sat down to examine just one year: the 1880 agricultural schedules for Floyd County, Georgia.
Although I had to search the entire county, I quickly found both my great-grandfather, Green Berry Holder, and his older brother, John Thomas Holder, living side by side. The information on this census schedule brought both menâ€™s lives into much clearer focus for the year 1879, which is the year for which the agricultural data was being collected. The sheer amount of data was tremendous!
Included in the 1880 agricultural schedule I now have the brothersâ€™ names and know that they owned their land, rather than rented or sharecropped. Green Berry owned forty-five acres, valued at $1000.00. He had $100.00 of farm equipment/machinery and $400.00 in livestock. He had installed or repaired no fences in 1879, nor did he use fertilizers that year. He paid $140.00 to white laborers over fifty weeks of that year. His estimate of all farm products sold, consumed or on-hand for 1879 was $700.00. He raised no grass land crops. He owned one mule, two horses, one milk cow, one other cow, two swine, and five barnyard poultry. He raised no cattle or sheep of any kind, but he did produce 365 pounds of butter, presumably most of which was for sale. His farm produced eighty-five dozen eggs in 1879. He raised sixteen acres of Indian corn with a value of $300.00, five acres of oats valued at $50.00, but no buckwheat, rye, or wheat. He raised twenty-eight bushels of peas and sixteen bushels of beans. He raised no apples, peaches, flax, hemp, hops, tobacco, sugar products, nursery stock, or vineyards. He grew no garden produce for sale. He did keep bees and produced twenty pounds of honey but no beeswax. He did not produce any cut cords of wood in that year.
As you can see, just from this abbreviated inventory on the census, I now have a far clearer picture of my great-grandfatherâ€™s familyâ€™s life on the farm and the nature of their agricultural activities. Even without photographs, I can better visualize the family at that time and better place them into context.
If you havenâ€™t explored the agricultural and other non-population censuses, you owe it to yourself to add them to your â€œto-doâ€ list.
George G. Morgan
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