Saturday, February 14, 2009

Family History Center Visit 2

Earlier today I visited the local Family History Center, and I took a look at the two microfilms that had come in on Tuesday. The microfilms that came in were the church records for a Catholic church in Elizabeth, New Jersey and tax records for Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.

One of my great-grandfathers grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and was raised in the Catholic Church. This ancestor happens to be a bit of a brick wall to me because I am not completely sure as to who his parents were, and I thought viewing the records for the church he attended as a child might provide some answers. Well, I did take a look at the records, but I was unable to determine if the first communion records and confirmation records were of my great-grandfather as there were other boys listed that had the same name and the parents were not listed. So, I'll have to do a little more digging to figure out which one might be my great-grandfather, and until then, searching in this microfilm will be inconclusive.

Although I did not have as much success in searching through the church records, I did have more success with the tax records. Although my ancestors mainly lived in Walker and Juniata Townships, I knew from the 1830 Census that Benjamin Oswalt did live in Hopewell Township at one point, and I decided to order the microfilm that contained tax records for Hopewell Township. The microfilm included the tax records for the years 1823 to 1833 for the township, and to my surprise, I discovered that the tax payers were listed in alphabetical order by last name. (The only exception to that was the single free men section.) I do not have very much experience with tax records, so I am uncertain as to whether or not this is typical. Either way, the alphabetical order of the names made my job of searching the tax records a lot easier.

So, what did I find? Well, I found the listings for my ancestor, Benjamin Oswalt, and another Adam Oswalt. (From looking at the 1820 and 1830 censuses, it appears that this Adam Oswalt was older than Benjamin Oswalt, to the point that he was enough to be Benjamin's father, and therefore, I suspect that Adam might be his father. Of course, at the moment, I am only speculating as I do not have proof yet.) The tax records listed the number and type of animals and amount of land that a tax payer might own. For Benjamin, that happened to be mainly one cow and sometimes one horse, but for Adam, the tax record listed that he owned between 150-164 acres of land, one horse and one cow at various points. Of course, the ownership of land is news to me, so I have another lead to chase down on my Oswalt ancestors, possible and confirmed.

The tax records also contained for some of the years the papers giving a resident of the township the authority to assess all of the residents of the township, and it also listed how much each item was worth. Another column listed the total value of a person's taxable property, and how much the person had to pay in taxes. At the end of each year's assessment, the names of people who owned unseated land, single free men and the names of poor children were listed. Unfortunately, I did not copy any pages from the tax record at this visit, so I do not have any images to show as examples. On my next visit, I'll try to copy some of the pages and post a few examples.

So, that is what I accomplished on this visit. Although I did not find all of the answers I wanted to, I am still happy that I was able to find my Oswalt ancestors on the tax rolls. I know have a better idea of where they were living in between the 1820 and 1830 censuses. I did not order another microfilm as I am still waiting for the third film to come in, but on my next visit, I'll probably order some more microfilms.

No comments: