U.S. Agricultural Census Schedules

by George G. Morgan  

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), veterans’ and widows’ 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 men’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 brothers’ 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-grandfather’s family’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 haven’t explored the agricultural and other non-population censuses, you owe it to yourself to add them to your “to-do” list.

George G. Morgan

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Visit George’s website at http://ahaseminars.com for information about his company, speaking engagements, and presentation topics. You can also listen to George and Drew Smith’s “Genealogy Guys” podcast at http://genealogyguys.com/.

17 thoughts on “U.S. Agricultural Census Schedules

  1. I hope the agricultural census schedules are on Ancestry’s list of “next” projects!

  2. I agree with the # 1 comment and would also like to know if there might be lists/schedules of mining workers since there were/are mines in various states—MI, WVA, Utah, & probably others.

  3. Are any of these ‘special’ schedules, besides the Mortality Schedules, now available at Ancestry.com?

  4. The state of Iowa did a census in 1885 and 1895. These are both helpful since the 1890 census was lost due to a fire.

  5. “I hope the agricultural census schedules are on Ancestry’s list of “next” projects! ”

    If we’re making suggestions….when is Ancestry.com going to digitize and index the 1890 New York police census? And 1892 census for Brooklyn?

  6. And yeah I realize Ancestry.com has a small part of the 1890 police census online at http://www.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=3519

    But this is only “26 of the 894 extant books”, and that hasn’t changed in over 5 years. I hope now that the 1910 index is complete, Ancestry gets working on the 1890 police census again.

  7. Greenberry (one word) is a very common given name in Maryland. In 1790, of 42 Greenberry something-or-others, 35 were from Maryland. No one showed up in all the U.S. with Greenberry as a surname in 1790. I have no idea where it came from, but one day, if you haven’t already, you might find that your Greenberry Holder has some Baltimore or Ann Arundel County ancestry.

  8. I agree with George Morgan’s enthusiasim over the Ag Schedules. I got them, gratis, for several ancestors’ farms in Vermont and Ohio in 1870 and 1880 by e-mailing requests to the respective State Archives Libraries. The name of the farmer and the County of residence were required for thier searches. For the era when most of the US lived on farms, these schedules are invaluable for putting into context the lives of our rural forbearers.

  9. My ancestor, David Reed, was in Belmont County in 1803 when he purchased a quarter section of land there. There was no census of 1800, the one for 1810 was destroyed, and he died in 1815, before the census of 1820. I have almost no personal info regarding him, except the name of his wife and children, his mother’s given name and date of her death, 1822. Any thoughts or suggestions??

    Doris Forsyth

  10. I would like to add my voice to the others about adding the agricultural schedules. I have yet to see one, but from all I’ve read about them (George’s article, The Source, etc) they would help us make our family histories more interesting. I would much rather read a family history that contains more than just dates and places of birth, marriage and death.

  11. Another vote for Ancestry adding the agricultural schedules. I know I would get a better feeling for my two farm families in New Jersey and New York State, the TOMKINS and the SWACKHAMERS. I would also like to see the Industrial schedules on line.

  12. When I have ask about the ag schedules. I was told they were destroyed and didn’t exist and they weren’t microfilmed before hand. I have been trying to find a source for them for 5 years. THANK YOU for inspiring me to keep looking.

  13. I searched the ancestry.com data base collections for agricultural schedules and found nothing, but from the previous comments I see that they are not there. Please add them. My ggg grandfather was David Kerr KING (1802-1885)in Hall county Georgia. From the slave schedules I found that he owned 13 and with this number he should have had a large agricultural operation.

  14. I have been looking for some information on the Averill/ Conklin families located in Cloud County Kansas around 1884 and a very nice lady found the Averill’s for me in an 1885 Kansas Agricutural Schedule. My thanks to her I had no idea there such schedule before that.

  15. I am also interested in the Agricultural schedules. I hope Ancestry will put them on line soon. I have many families that were farmers or work on farms

  16. Your gggrandfather’s name is interesting to me. You would think the given name Green Berry would be unique, but I had a cousin named Green Berry Lambert and one named Berry Brown Lambert. Good hunting.

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