52 Ancestors Week 15 - Taxes

+5 votes

Week 15: Taxes
AJC - It's that time of year here in the U.S. -- tax season. There are many ways you could approach this theme: An ancestor you discovered using tax records, an ancestor who was a tax collector, or maybe an ancestor who kept running from the tax collector! You could explore an ancestor who has been taxing to research.

asked in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (432k points)
A wayyyy back grandfather,Henry Collins, who was b. circa 1740 and died 1793 is taxing me, exasperating me , and makes me stomp my foot in frustration. I ONLY have him paying tax where I know he was in 1790, according to his decendents (children) and County historys of a contemporary nature,and I have a church circuit minister who mentioned in his diary  being at Henrys  home in 1792 . Also later the actual Church records noted his death in 1793. He did leave a will, naming his family members including another grandfather, his son...the line is quite well documented but darn it I cant break the brick wall on him... I figure hes buried on "Old Place" as its listed in the tax record, and am thinking that at one time he lived there, later got a 'new place' and then at some point returned to the Old Place, but I cant assume this is true.. Of course this all happened in Mifflin county PA and I am on the west coast where Henrys grandson ended up...so its difficult to find anything more on him... also his wife Rachel...no surname for her only his will and family history to even have a first name.... This brings me to the crux of what taxes me about them...her... this line. If I dont have even the name of who gave the info and how they know its true and where the data can be found, even if they dont give up the source, then I do not feel good about the info... A descendent of Rachels says her surname was Parker. My line always said it was Wright. This came about because of what? All I can think of is my line at some point said it was Wright because of Henry and Rachels son Isaac Wright Collins. The surname Parker was claimed from the line of Mary Parker Reiden, who was a daughter of Henry and Rachel. But is there a marriage cert, a bond, a bible entry by Mary? How do we know it was Mary Parker Collins, with Parker as a middle name and not a prior marriage, which would make her Mary Collins Parker Reiden... MY only reference calls her Mary Parker Reiden, no source even for her own life and decendents, just a listing of...Henrys children and wife, Mary listed as Mary Reiden when will was written. So yes, this and other instances of "floating" info bothers me. I have may profiles not completely sourced but I have many sources on many many of them, just not online. If someone asks I will tell them what I have and any notes available and where to look at least... and I hate all of the genealogies with not one thing that says hey here is or there is a census or a marriage or a tax bill or obit or ANYTHING. Ok pet peeve over lol...

16 Answers

+5 votes
I think all of my ancestors were law abiding citizens. I have no record or stories of anyone trying to "fleece" the government at all.

My uncle Ian Thompson was a Publlic Accountant for many years. He would have had to do the taxes for many of his clients.


My father was also an Accountant as well. But he chose to work for private employers.
answered by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (432k points)
+5 votes
Taxes and death.. inevitable... But they do help us research our ancestors, proving where they lived and what they did for a livelihood.

My great grandfather Edmund Scranton https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Scranton-209 moved from Connecticut to Illinois then to Iowa. In 1864, shortly before the move to Iowa, he paid taxes for the slaughter of 8 hogs in Buffalo Township, Ogle County, Illinois.

Maybe they didn't want to take the hogs when they moved? Obviously his wife would have been pregnant at the time.
answered by Kay Sands G2G6 Pilot (174k points)
+6 votes


I stretched this week. I have been wanting to document some Revolutionary War ancestors. A major factor that started the war was Britain's unfair taxation of the Colonies, right? I found a tax record from 1772 for 4 horses and 4 cows.

In this particular family most the men served the Continental Army. The following generation, many of the Marr families headed north to Canada. My 5th g. grandfather served for five years. His son William, Jr. was the first of my line to move to Canada. One brother (my 5th g. uncle) was almost executed during the War as a spy. The Marquis de Lafayette presided over his hearing.

All of their Wikitree pages need work. I'm still sorting through their documentation, dates, etc. The patriarch, Lawrence Marr,https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Marr-85, is supposed to have a connection to the Earl of Marr. It is said fled Scotland via Ireland during the Jacobite uprising. People have been trying to pin this story down for years. I don't think he was born in NJ, as indicated here. Most of what is written about him is through old stories handed down over the years.

Anywho...here is my post about the Revolutionary War Marr family of Pennsylvania! http://www.libbyonthelabel.ca/2018/04/52-ancestors-week-15-taxes_9.html#more

answered by Libby Park G2G6 Mach 1 (12.6k points)
Great blog post Libby.

Your story of your ancestors paying taxes was very interesting!!

I do sympathise with you having to file 2 tax returns.

Am so glad I have never had to do that.
Thanks Robin. The 2 tax returns drives me crazy. It kind of works out because the two countries have checks and balances for dual citizens, but what a pain. I didn't know when I first moved to Canada, and got hit with a whopper tax bill. You need a good accountant who does cross border work, which is pretty expensive compared to TurboTax, etc. This year I need to tell 2 countries I made no money! :)
Having done the same myself, you have my complete sympathy!
+4 votes
I am in it will take me sometime to find this information.
answered by Linda Barnett G2G6 Pilot (238k points)
+4 votes

I'm having trouble finding any tax information on my family. Unless someone can suggest how to find it, I may have to skip this one.

June 4: this was taxing, but I found a reference to a tax record for my great-great-great-great-great grandfather Johann Christian Winebrenner.

This reference was on my something-like-a-fourth-cousin-and-sixth-cousin-combined Bob Wolfe's website:

1798 Christian Winebrenner was named on the US Direct tax list for Bedford County, living in Woodbury Twp on land owned by John Adams. The tract was valued at $845. There was one log house (30 by 20 feet) with a kitchen, stable, and outhouse on a 400 acre tract.

Source Citation

National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C

Source Information

Ancestry.com. Pennsylvania, U.S. Direct Tax Lists, 1798 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. This collection was indexed by Ancestry World Archives Project contributors.

Original data:

United States Direct Tax of 1798: Tax Lists for the State of Pennsylvania. M372, microfilm, 24 rolls. Records of the Internal Revenue Service, 1791-2006, Record Group 58. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.


This database contains tax lists from Pennsylvania associated with the first direct tax levied by the United States government in 1798.

answered by Alison Gardner G2G6 Mach 2 (25.3k points)
edited by Alison Gardner
I just checked my great grandfather. I found his on Ancestry, but remember that it took looking at lots of images to find him.
Alison - was there any ancestor that took you AGES to find? If yes then you can mention him, because it was very taxing for you to find him!!

And that is a perfectly acceptable use of the word tax in this prompt!!
If you're on ancestry, find your person on the tree and open their page. Click on the "search" icon in the upper right hand corner. This will bring to a page that says "All Results for [name]" In the lower left side of the page it has a list that says "All Categories". If you click on the link to Court, Land, Wills & Financial , there's a category called "Tax Lists". I found some docs there that I'd never seen before. I'm not sure why they don't come up as hints.
I just have a free ancestry account--they won't let me see tax records. I found some tax records on Family Search in a special tax record section, but they are limited to just a few years, and seem to be just taxes on retail stores and services. Most of my ancestors were farmers, teachers, ministers and the like, and I have not yet found any in these records, which have no search function, and you have to look through them. It is very taxing.
Taxing indeed. lol If you want I can look up someone for you. Just give me a few names maybe?
Wow! Thank you! I'd be happy to take you up on that! I've been really busy this week and am slow getting back to you. It seemed like tax records for the mid-to-late-1800's were the most accessible, so if you have the time and inclination, here's some to try:

Joseph Lewis Gardner, 1831-1882. Born in Franklin Co., Ohio, married in 1854 in McDonough co., Illinois, died in McDonough Co., Ill.

Abner Hector Johnson, abt. 1845 to abt. 1900. Born and died in Ohio, lived in Clinton and Fayette counties.

Rev. Peter Winebrenner, 1826-1904. Born in Liberty twp., Adams co., Ohio. Moved to Wolf Lake, Noble co., Indiana before 1849. Lived in Noble County the rest of his life; died in Warren Co., Ind., probably at daughter's home.

Christian Cowen Stoner 1844-1931. Lived in Noble co. Indiana from about 1850 to about 1870, then Cloud co., Kansas til 1903, when they moved to Lincoln, Kansas, then to Orange CA in 1907 til his death.

Thank you so much!
+4 votes

This is a bit of a stretch, but I think that tithes are a form of tax., accountants, even in the 19th century, helped people with their taxes, and beer was taxed (starting in 1690)

My third great grandfather, William Battiscombe (1780 - 1849) ( https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Battiscombe-51 ) was an accountant (so he may have helped other people with their taxes), an alderman, the Mayor of Bridport, part owner of the Bridport Brewery, and a landowner. 

 According to the tithe maps, he paid tithes on property in Walditch, Whitchurch Canonicorum, Bradpole, Bothenhampton, and Loders (all in Dorset). 

The Beerhouse act of 1830 was not actually about beer taxes, but about expanding the number of establishments that were permitted to sell beer (with the stated intention of reducing the consumption of gin).

William Battiscombe, and the other owners of the Bridport Brewery, and other brewers and public house owners and operators, signed a petition<ref>[http://www.british-history.ac.uk/commons-jrnl/vol85/pp400-408 Journal of the House of Commons: Volume 85, 1830. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, [n.d.].]</ref> AGAINST the 1830 Beer Bill (allowing many more people to sell beer for a minimal license fee)<ref>[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beerhouse_Act_1830 Wikipedia - Beerhouse Act 1830]</ref>.  The  Beer act passed, and actually led to a doubling in the beer produced by the Bridport Brewery<ref>"Palmers: the Story of a Dorset Brewer, by Tim Heald, 2008, pg 20 </ref>

answered by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 5 (57.6k points)
+4 votes

I have quite a few relatives that were tax collectors of sorts. It seems it ran in the family to be in politics, handling money, and engineering.

Samuel Connable (Connable -7) was constable & collector 1662-1664, 1666, and 1673; and surveyor of the highways 1752, 1772-3, 1777-8, and 1786 among other positions in Fall Town (later Bernardston), Massachusetts. He also built the first bridge across Fall River to the town. His house was the second to built.

answered by Susan Fitzmaurice G2G6 Mach 3 (38.7k points)
+4 votes

I've spent several hours wading through newspaper reports of 1870s NZ parliamentary proceedings to make sense of my great great grandfather's view on who should pay tax. It seems that the arguments may have come full circle! May I introduce Charles Woolcock. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Woolcock-106

His profile is thanks to the very creative and knowledgeable Nicky Blacklock, who initially guided me through the rigours of Wikitree when I was a newbie.

I've only written about 'tax' here as there is so much more to say about this enigmatic character. 


answered by Fiona Gilliver G2G6 Mach 6 (62.8k points)
What an impressive Wikitree page! Very nice. I think the whole idea of the challenge is to prompt us to think about an ancestor and talk about them. Every week is just a suggestion from what AJC says. Charles Woolcock fits the Taxes week 100%. Interesting guy.
Nicky' pages are beautiful, Libby. I'm really enjoying doing the extra research and finding out the associated social history which doesn't always fit on a profile. I was really surprised that the same arguments about tax are being used 140 years later. Thanks for your positive comments. (I'm enjoying your blog too. I'm really pleased the NZ tax system is quite straightforward as I'd resent having to do two tax returns.)
+3 votes

To have an answer I have to sort of play the game of six degrees of Benjamin Franklin...   You see, Ben was a big fan of glass production being done in the American colonies.  He wrote this description as given to me by the archivist at Wheaton Village of the Caspar Wistar enterprise: 

More specific information about the operation of the glasshouse can be learned from Benjamin Franklin. In 1746 he received a letter from Thomas Darling of New Haven who wanted to build a glasshouse in Connecticut. Darling had heard of Wistar's undertaking and sent Franklin a list of detailed questions. Franklin was in a good position to answer this query. He was a neighbor of Wistar's on Market Street and the request came just at the time when Franklin was working closely with Wistar on the production of glass needed for his scientific experiments.

            Franklin describes the furnace as a rectangular one typical of German technology: "about 12 foot long, 8 wide, 6 high, has no Grate, the Fire being made on its Floor...On each Side in the Furnace is a Bench or Bank of the same Materials with Furnace, on which the Pots of Metal stand, 3 or 4 of a Side." He noted that the furnace was built of bricks of white clay which needed to be "renew'd every Blast." As Wistar told Governor Belcher, "The Clay for the Furnace bottoms was but poor and often gave way." Franklin reported that the glasshouse consumed 2,400 cords of wood annually. The heat of the furnaces was so intense that in the New Jersey climate the glassblowers could only work from October to May.   ...Although the four original blowers must have trained others in the glassblowing trade over the years, additional master gaffers were required. In time a family of glass craftsmen by the name of Stanger or Stenger was secured. They are best known for the numerous New Jersey glasshouses they founded after Wistarburgh closed. Johan Adam Stanger and his six sons landed in Philadelphia in 1768 and apparently assumed a leading role at Wistarburgh, although no factory records are available to document this. Besides Peter Halter, the only other glassblower who has been identified for the later period is Andrew Road, who died in 1780.​

Now, I descend from two Anna Stengers married to Walter men

https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Stenger-199  and https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Stenger-211

These women were both related to the Colonial Stengers who became Stanger in New Jersey.  So what does this have to do with taxes?  Back to the document from Wheaton Village:

While some colonial authorities seemed to ignore the Crown policy towards manufactures, the New Jersey House of Representatives seemed, in the opinion of the Wistars, to be acting against the interests of the Colonies. When the House determined to increase the taxes levied on the glassworks, the partners petitioned for relief, pointing out that "the Making of Glass is...a Considerable Advantage to the Country, not only as it saves the Money that must otherwise be sent abroad for that Commodity, but as it brings Cash in, for Quantities exported to other Colonies." British policy notwithstanding, they stated that "it is no unusual Thing in Wise Governments to encourage new Manufactures, by Granting Bounties and Immunities to those who Introduce them."

  In this same period the company faced county taxes that had risen dramatically; in 1746 the glassworks paid twenty shillings, besides an additional charge levied on Wistar for his role as a merchant. The following year the glasshouse tax was forty shillings and by 1749 the amount was increased to three pounds. 



answered by Laura Bozzay G2G6 Pilot (448k points)
+4 votes

I'm lagging behind on so many so far, I'm going to take the easy way out - I just reviewed Marie Huet's profile - she was married 15 April 1583 - and corrected a typo.* Done for the week :D

Cheers, Liz

* Better genealogists than I am have done oodles of work on her profile, so even though she's my 11th great-grandmother, I tend to leave her alone!

answered by Liz Shifflett G2G6 Pilot (298k points)

Just to clarify, how does this profile fit the words taxes or taxing?


She was married on 15 April, which is usually the day taxes are due in the USA (this year it's 17 April, since the 15th is a Sunday). Wasn't that one of the options? Should I find a different profile?

LOL  No no no that's fine!! Thanks Laura!!  Oops sorry LIZ!!

+4 votes

Tax records from 1809 helped to locate my fourth great grandfather, Sherod Thompson.  He moved around quite a bit, but by 1809 was shown living in Jackson County, Georgia, where he paid property taxes in Captain David H McCleskey's District.

He has always fascinated me.  He was born in Virginia in 1757. He served in the Revolutionary War, He enlisted in Pittsylvania County, Virginia March 1781 and served six months as a private in Captain John Coleman's Company, Colonel Scott's Virginia Regiment, and was infighting in the battle of Guilford Court House; he again enlisted in 1781 and served three months as a private in Captain Livinful Hill's Virginia Company and was at the Siege of York. 

He married and lived in South Carolina awhile then moved his family to Georgia sometime between 1800 and 1809.


answered by Carolyn Martin G2G6 Pilot (119k points)
+2 votes
I do not have any tax stories, and I cannot remember having used taxed records when researching an ancestor. But for some reason the prompt reminded me of a story my grandfather, Thomas Williams ( https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Williams-47596​ ) used to tell me when I was a child. Thomas was born in 1886 in Wingate, Durham, England. He used to tell me that when he was a child, he had to take a penny each week to school to pay for his education. If his parents had not got a penny to give him he could not go to school that week. Our taxes now pay for the education of our children, so children from poor families do not miss out because their parents cannot pay.
answered by Joan Whitaker G2G6 Mach 4 (49.2k points)
+2 votes
Supposedly my third great-grandfather Ephraim Wright had a brother named David according to the History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio which has this very, very brief reference to him:  “… Ephraim Wright, who bought out John Cutler.  He must have been followed by his brother, David, not long after.”

I haven’t had much success in finding anything else about David Wright.  FamilySearch has added Ohio Tax Records and I’ve finally been able to find some official record of his existence at Auburn, Geauga County, Ohio.  I also now know he owned land and have a property description.

Interestingly, when I took another look at the county history, it appears the author was using the same tax records as a source for information about the early settlers.

I need to add David to Wikitree and take a closer look at the tax records to see if they can lead to any additional information about him – at least I have some actual records to use as a source now.
answered by Jill Perry G2G6 Mach 1 (12k points)
+1 vote
I will do this it will take some time for this one too.
answered by Linda Barnett G2G6 Pilot (238k points)
0 votes
52 Ancestors for 52 Weeks - Week 15 Taxes

I have been letting this week go, thinking I would not finish this project, because I just couldn't find an ancestor with taxes. I tried hints that someone shared, and I even thought about writing about how taxing this was - but that had already been done numerous times. Just about the time I started looking for Random Facts, what should pop up, but a US IRS tax Assessment, so here we go.

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture yet of my second great-grandfather Jacob Leinen [[Leinen-51|Jacob Leinen]], but I do have one of his wife, which doesn't help me a bit here.

Grandpa was born in German in 1828.  He arrived in New York on Dec. 2, 1846. By the 1850 Census they had moved and were living in  St. John, Lake County, Indiana.

He married Margaretha Koerner on Aug 24, 1854 in Lake Co., Indiana. They had all 11 of their children in Lake County, Illinois, according to the Census Records.

In 1863, Jacob received a U.S. IRA Tax Assessment List for property in Indiana.

It stated that my grandfather lived in Hanover, Lake Co., Indiana, the quality of the hogs that he owned was 4; the rate of taxes was 6; Class C; # in abstract as Classified=14; Class C Enumerated Articles 42, and the amount of tax that he owed was $42.00.

He must have paid it because I didn't see where they came and arrested him.  lol

I think this was the hardest one.

I tried to copy the tax record, but it would not copy over to this page, which was just as well, because it was hard to read.
answered by Cheryl Hess G2G6 Pilot (128k points)
0 votes

I don't have any interesting stories relating to tax, and I don't have many ancestors who were rich enough to pay taxes.

However I did find a treasure trove of Land tax record images for Sussex, England on Family Search. They are tedious to work through, and unindexed, and the years are not always easy to determine, but I have been using them to try to determine where some of my Sussex ancestors lived. Having wills helps identify people who may have rented or owned property, so I focused on Simon Selmes who was a yeoman farmer but was paying tax on the property he owned in Mountfield, Sussex. His brother Stephen Selmes appeared to own Hoath Farm at Mountfield, but I have yet to add all the land tax records for him into his profile. the land tax records don't really give much useful information - and they can be confusing if you have family with the same name in the same village!

I'm now off to try to find an interesting death duty entry for a relative I remember was strange at the time I saw it as the probate was a long time (maybe 30 years) after death.

Luckily I remembered as it was so unusual I had posted about it on a forum many years ago, and was able to find my original posting from 2010! The probate was actually 66 years late. and I'm sure I discovered it in the Death Duty registers. 

It was Joseph Curnick - so I've linked him into the family - just need to add a few more sources to his profile.

answered by Michelle Wilkes G2G6 Pilot (104k points)
edited by Michelle Wilkes

Related questions

+7 votes
8 answers
131 views asked 4 days ago in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (432k points)
+6 votes
12 answers
+2 votes
13 answers
+7 votes
11 answers
+6 votes
16 answers
+6 votes
12 answers
+8 votes
11 answers
+6 votes
11 answers
+9 votes
11 answers
+4 votes
12 answers

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright