Pennsylvania is just one of those cross roads in United States history. Sometimes it seems like everybody went there or through there. From its founding it was a haven for religious refugees being founded as a tolerant Quaker colony. From Ireland came all religious groups mixing and merging through the centuries. The Province of Pennsylvania entered the union in 1787.
The Importance of Tax Records
An essential resource in your research from the 1700s is the tax lists. Important ones have been extracted and published. Most are readily available on microfilm. However, once you get into the records, you will see intriguing terminology which does not translate into modern English. Understanding these are essential to your research. Keep in mind that as the state tax laws changed, so did the terms and items considered taxable.
The main taxable categories you will be interested in will concern land, single men, slaves and horses. The reason is you are documenting single men prior to their marriage and families bought and sold land and horses from each other. This allows you to connect various family members. There are sometimes editorial comments such as “deceased,” “moved” or “heir” which can be helpful.
Common Pennsylvania Tax Terms
Understanding tax language is important because of the lack of early county marriages records for Pennsylvania. So when a “freeman” becomes an “inmate” this mean a marriage has occurred. Key terms utilized in the decades of the late 1700s and early 1800s are as follows:
Freemen: unmarried males over 21.
Heir: indicates a death had occurred.
Inmates: married renters.
Occupation: other than a farmer.
Seated: a landowner was a resident
Servant: Various modes indentured servitude often European.
Unseated: a landowner was a non-resident.
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