Sunday, June 22, 2014

Old Agriculture Census

**This post and many others I am adding today are from older post on my website  originally dated  Mar 30, 2014**

  Last night I was working on some of the older Agriculture census for 4 of my relatives. Agricultural censuses, sometimes referred to as “farm schedules,” are an enumeration of U.S. farms and ranches and the farmers who owned and operated them. These census are pretty cool for showing the amount of land a person had. How the land was used. The census looked at land use and ownership.  Operator characteristics, production practices, income and expenditures and many other areas. It required all those who receive a census report form to respond – even if they did not operate a farm or ranch during the census year.
The first Census of Agriculture was taken in 1840. For census purposes, a farm is defined as “a place from which $1,000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been sold, during the census year”.
Last night, I was working on turning four of the  1860 Agriculture census into a stories to show what kind of a farm life they would have had. For instance,  one Dennis N Finn who was the husband of my 1st cousin 4x removed and was living  in Talladega County, Alabama, He owned 55 acres of improved land and 175 acres of unimproved land. The cash value of his farm was 1000 with a value of 40 for his farming implements and machinery. He apparently owned no horses but owned two asses or mules. He also was the proud owner of 3 milk cows, 2 working oxen, 6 other cattle, no sheep and 20 swine. The value of his livestock was 275. He had 800 bushels of Indian Corn and no Oats.
U.S. agricultural schedules are most widely available for research for the years 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880.  A number of agricultural schedules for this time period are available online., offers selected agricultural census schedules for this period for states including Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Search Google and relevant state repositories as well, to locate possible digitized agricultural schedules.
So while researching your ancestors, don’t forget this part because it may or may not be important to you. But it does tel an important part of the story of what kind of farm life my ancestors lived.


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