Offhand Comments in Tax Lists

One never knows what will be in “free text” records until one actual reads them.

The county tax records for Bedford County, Pennsylvania, are written in apparent blank notebooks for the 18th and early 19th century. That might have been frustrating for the tax collector and assessor, but it’s potentially good for the genealogist using these records.

Records that are “free form” have the potential to include additional information or comments. When there are not forms to fill out, clerks occasionally include additional pieces of information.  These little nuggets are only found by reading the records page by page. That’s why they often do not get found.

This little detail confirmed for me that at least part of Bedford County’s Southampton Township was created from Colerain Township.

lands of William Breathed & Bengamin Davis in Colerain Township now in South hampton

It is important to interpret this reference correctly. It says that a piece of property (the Breathed and Davis property) was originally in Colerain Township was later in Southampton Township. That doesn’t mean that all of Southampton was formed from Colerain. That may have been what actually happened–but that’s not what this record says.

The connection between the two townships was important to my research as my family of interest originally settled in Colerain township and “ended up” in Southampton. And that detail was included in a record that did not even mention my people of interest.

The things we learn when we read as much as we can.

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