Halifax County, Virginia 1810 "Substitute Census"
Halifax County, Virginia 1810 "Substitute Census" [Abstracts from the 1810 Personal Property Tax List]. John Vogt, 2010.
Halifax is one of eighteen Virginia counties for which the 1810 census is lost. In August, 1814 British troops occupied Washington, DC and public buildings were put to the torch. In the destruction that followed, numerous early records of the government were lost, including all of Virginia’s 1790 and 1800 census reports, as well as eighteen county lists for the state's most recent  federal census. Although two “fair copies” of each county’s census had been left in the counties for public display, these were ephemeral lists and not preserved, and by 1814 they too had been mislaid, lost, or destroyed. Hence, the closest document available we have to reconstruct a partial image of the missing county lists is the personal property tax list.
According to research notes by Minor T. Weisiger, Library of Virginia archivist: “Information recorded in Virginia personal property tax records changed gradually from 1782 to 1865. The early laws required the tax commissioner in each district to record in “a fair alphabetical list” the names of the person chargeable with the tax, the names of white male tithables over the age of twenty-one, the number of white male tithables between ages sixteen and twenty-one, the number of slaves both above and below age sixteen, various types of animals such as horses and cattle, carriage wheels, ordinary licenses, and even billiard tables. Free Negroes are listed by name and often denoted in the list as “free” or “FN.”
The present abstract of Halifax's 1810 personal property tax list is NOT a transcript of the entire document; rather, it is a summary of three items important in delineating the 1810 "substitute" census for this county, i.e., number of male tithables 16 and older, number of slaves twelve years and older, and the number of horses. The original form of the census was in alphabetic order by date and letter [see example on page vi below]. The substitute list presented here is in absolute alphabetic order for easy reference.
In the current volume, the data is recorded thus:
Bruce, James 1 43 29
to indicate one tithable male, forty-three slaves over 12, and twenty-nine horses, mares or mules.
For genealogical researchers in this 1810 period, personal property tax records may provide additional important information. Oftentimes, juniors and seniors are listed adjacent to one another and recorded on the same day. When a taxpayer is noted as “exempt”, it can be a clue to someone holding a particular position in government or being elderly, infirm, or for some other reason no longer required to pay the tithable tax. Women, both black and white, appear occasionally as heads of households when they own property in their own right or as the widow of a property owner.
Another valuable source for filling in information about an ancestor is the land tax record, and especially the one for 1815. In that year, the enumerators began to add the location of the property in relation to the county court house. Thus “Bruce, James”, who was living with only himself as a tithable in 1810, would appear in the land tax list as Bruce, James, with three separate individuals with the same given name, along with the two John Bruces mentioned in the tax list; all of these were located in the district of Robert Hurt, while the home of Charles Bruce in the district assigned to Berryman Green was cited as being on Miry Creek. Roger Ward has abstracted all of the 1815 land tax records, and they are available from this publisher at www.iberian.com.
The 1810 substitute census list for Halifax County contains 2,453 households, 2,725 tithables, both white and free black, 5,275 slaves over the age of twelve, and 6.010 horses.