United States Direct Tax of 1798 Tax Lists for Washington County, Pennsylvania


The direct tax of 1798 was imposed by the United States Government on dwellings, lands and slaves, with the aim of raising $2 million, primarily for the purpose of providing the funds necessary to increase the strength of the armed forces during a time of tension with France over attacks on American shipping. To carry out the taxation program, every structure, lot and tract in the country had to be accounted for in tax listings, in which each was described and given an assessment value. The result was a housing inventory so complete that it has not been surpassed to this day. This book is a compilation of these tax lists for the area of present-day Washington County, Pennsylvania, and is divided into 22 townships. Information in the tax lists includes the owner and the occupant, the source reference, the type and acreage of property (house or tract, for example), and the size and description of the structures listed, including number of stories, number of windows, type of construction, etc. Sometimes information appears on adjacent property owners, enabling reconstruction of a neighborhood. Additionally, the function and condition of structures is sometimes given. An appendix includes the introduction to the microfilm edition of the Pennsylvania tax lists, a circular of the Secretary of the Treasury, and sample pages from the Washington County tax forms. The everyname index includes about 3,500 entries. “Apart from Pennsylvania, only Massachusetts and Maryland records are extant in reasonably complete form, most of the records for other states having disappeared. The nearly complete records of Pennsylvania make that state an excellent source of information on housing and land ownership in the early days of the republic.”


Wilbur J. McElwain


(1997), 2008, 8½x11, paper, index, 308 pp.

ISBN: 9780788407437