Spotlight on Georgia Genealogy

The July-August 2003 issue of Ancestry magazine contained an excellent article by Robert S. Davis on “Research in the Deep South.” The author’s premise is that Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, “on the way to becoming the states of today, made such different histories that these six states only sometimes share a common past.” To support his assertion, Mr. Davis has written an essay on each state of the region that summarizes that state’s genealogical characteristics and dispels myths along the way.

In the case of Georgia, readers will learn, for example, that (1) no debtors from England ever came to the colony, despite the reasons behind Georgia’s founding in 1733; (2) notwithstanding General Sherman’s Civil War “March to the Sea,” Georgia “lost relatively few local records, or even private property”; (3) Georgia’s collection of early newspapers (1763-1900), in print and online, is second to none among the original 13 states; and (4) the first federal census for Georgia to have survived is the 1820 census. It is Mr. Davis’s last point that brings us to former Georgia State Historian Ruth Blair’s Some Early Tax Digests of Georgia.

In the absence of the 1790, 1800, and 1810 federal censuses of Georgia, Some Early Tax Digests of Georgia is a godsend. In all, this work refers to 25,000 Georgia taxpayers and adjoining property owners. The counties for which tax records are provided, with their years of coverage, are as follows: Camden 1794 and 1809; Chatham 1806; Glynn 1790 and 1794; Hancock 1812; Lincoln 1818; Montgomery 1797, 1798, 1805, and 1806; Pulaski 1818; Richmond 1818; Warren 1794, 1805, and 1818; and Wilkes 1792, 1793, and 1794. Each tax list generally gives the name of the taxpayer, the name of the adjoining property owner, and the name of the original grantee of land. In addition, the tax lists identify the number of slaves attached to the property, the watercourses, the acreage, and the value of the land. We should point out that we have reprinted Mrs. Blair’s esteemed work with the index prepared expressly for it by Mrs. J. E. Hays in 1938.

For a complete list of Georgia publications, on CD and in book form, please access the following link.

Image credit: William Blount McClellan and wife Martha, via Wikimedia Commons.

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