2) Microfilm of actual Tax Records The actual tax record contains so much more information than the "digests". Be sure to take the trouble to consult them.
3) Tax Lists on-line
Certain individuals were exempt from the Poll Tax, some of which paid a higher tax for being a Professional, such as lawyers, doctors and vendue masters. Certain officeholders were exempt; the laws covering such situations varied year to year.
Laws allowed for being excused from the Poll Tax. Such excusals are recorded in the Inferior Court records for County Purposes, as differing from Inferior Court records for Ordinary Purposes (Probate). The old, infirm, paupers, etc are found in this category. The old age varied slightly, but it was usually 55 years in Georgia.
It was not unusual for only one member of the family to make the return for all members of the family subject to any tax, including the Poll Tax. The name of the person subject to the tax was always entered. This proves familial relationships that may not be found in any other records.
A list of persons owing taxes was often included at the end of the tax digests. These lists were usually published in a local newspaper, as well. Sometimes the lists were published before the tax deadline, and are really lists of persons who had not yet filed their returns, as opposed to actual defaulters. There were several ways a person could be listed as a defaulter:
1) The taxpayer had moved out of the geographical area of the militia (tax) district. (As new counties were formed, Military Districts were also divided and added) 2) The person reported as a defaulter was under age. The captain's tax list was often formulated from lists of men registered for militia duty. Such lists included the age group 16-20, which was not subject to taxation. 3) The person actually defaulted. That is to say, failed to pay their taxes. 4) The person was absent from the area. 5) The person was listed as a taxpayer and a defaulter in the same district. This situation may have resulted from non-standardized spelling.
What is a homestead exemption? Homesteads, Pony Homesteads and other designations refer to a legal concept that has evolved over time. The basic purpose of this exemption is to make a certain amount of person's property untaxable. Originally, this seems to refer to property that was necessary to maintain a person in an independent condition and to protect this critical property from creditors. These records first appear in Georgia after the 1852 act, which transformed Georgia's property tax to an ad valorum basis. They survive frequently from the late nineteenth century. These records can contain very important information for historians and for genealogists. The record formats and the information vary widely from case to case. To locate homestead records, check the county record section of the Georgia Archives' microfilm card catalog for individual counties and also check the tax drawer of the same catalog. The Homestead exemption, according to my husband the attorney, was "invented" in the Republic of Texas because so many of those who flocked to Texas (many from GA!) had lost their homes elsewhere because of debts incurred. It protected the homestead from seizure for debts as well as exempting it from some property taxes. More details about Taxes may be found in Georgia State Archives Contributed by Pam Coleman, Senior Archivist
The Confederate Veteran info was very detailed, and listed the name of soldier, the unit he served with, the dates of enlistment and discharge, rank, etc. I haven't seen any Tax Digests for Houston Co., GA past the 1870s, but they may be stored away somewhere. If so, I haven't found them yet :-)
When you go to the various Georgia courthouses in pursuit of your elusive ancestors, make sure to check some of the Tax Digests of the era around 1920. You just may find out some good info about your Confederate Veteran ancestor!
"The other facet of the analysis of returns for the period, the naming of the watercourses, can be a difficult hurdle to cross in researching land ownership. An early tax return (and survey and grant) may have located the land on the waters of a major creek or river, but later returns (and deeds) may have located the land on a minor creek or tributary of the major waterway without naming the major waterway. As more land was surveyed and granted for the expanding population, minor streams were named, providing a more specific location. Land having been surveyed was subject to taxation, whether or not it had been granted."
Changes in the reported watercourse should be of no great concern. You will find instances where waters of two streams will be reported one year, one of the two the next year, and the other another year. I have always assumed that the land was located between the creeks, when two creeks were named. A large tract of land was usually drained by two or more creeks, even though only one was reported on the return. If we had the individual's written returns, or if we had heard the owner making his verbal return, we would know whether the Receiver made an arbitrary decision to record only one or the other, or was lazy and used dittos. Frank Parker Hudson
Two hard cover volumes, with Library quality binding, on 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch archival grade (acid free) paper. It includes a 204 page Index to Returns of Persons Subject To Taxation, Adjoining Landowners and Original Grantees (Or For Whom the Land Was Surveyed)
It lists all extant tax records (over 47,000)including some which had not been microfilmed before research on this book started. Mr. Hudson has listed all data of genealogical significance found in the records.
Over forty-five per cent of all free souls living in the State of Georgia were residents of Wilkes County in 1790.
The area of Wilkes Co. in
1785 [quoting again here] included the area now in the counties of
Wilkes, Lincoln, and Elbert; most of Oglethorpe, Madison, Taliaferro and
Warren; half of Hart; and part of Clarke, Glascock, Greene, Hancock, and
McDuffie Counties. Old Wilkes Co. was over 80 miles from north to south
and 50 miles from east to west at its longest and widest points.