25 June 2014

Manually Searching the IRS Civil War Era Tax Lists-Getting Started

Ancestry.com released some sort of update on their Internal Revenue Service Lists recently.

One thing they did not include in their update were the guides that appeared on the microfilm before the actual records. That guide indicates what counties are in what districts and on what rolls of microfilm those districts appear. The guide also includes background material on these records.

If  "typing in the name" at Ancestry.com  does not work (or you don't have access to Ancestry.com), then try browsing the images at FamilySearch.  View the county guide before you do. Searching these records through Ancestry.com's index is easier than searching manually. Also keep in mind that many Americans did not pay income tax during this period. Also keep in mind that, generally speaking, these records confirm residence in a specific location and general economic status at a certain point in time. They do not usually provide information on other family members or any other genealogical data on the person being taxed.

It takes a few clicks to actually get to the guide...

The guide will be several pages. The introduction explains the records and the process (which you should read), and then includes the listing as shown below:

I cut the headings off in the image above, but the reference indicates that Hancock County is in district 4 for Illinois and that the annual lists for that district appear on rolls 12 and 13 and that quarterly and special lists for that district appear on rolls 12 and 14, 15, and 16. I'll have to browse those manually after going back to the main page of records for Illinois.

Going back is easy. Just click on the appropriate section of the "trail" at the top of your browser--in my case that's Illinois.

Actually, FamilySearch has made it a little easier to get to the roll of film for the right district. You can simply browse by county by clicking on the county name:


That link will simply take you to the correct "roll" of microfilm for the district that includes the county of interest. I will still have to manually search the "roll" for the areas of the district that include Hancock County. The name of the county will not be on the page--just the district and the division within the district. Without knowing district number, that is going to be a lot of searching.

So I cheated.

I searched for a name in Ancestry.com's index to these records and determined the districts that included Hancock County, Illinois. The name I searched for was located in division 4 of district 4. In reviewing those pages, I noted several Hancock County villages, but did not note Carthage, La Harpe and others in the northern portion of the county. In reviewing the entries for division 5 I noted those towns.

So, to search for all of the county, I need to view the entries for divisions 4 and 5 within district 4. It is worth noting that the filming of these tends to be done chronologically, then by district, and then by division.

Searching manually for people in other areas will be similar. I would have a contemporary map of the county in which the person lived to assist. Make certain when browsing that you find all the towns within the county.