Using Tax Records in Genealogy

Recently, we posted a few tax assessment rolls for the earliest traceable ancestors of the Atlas family on our website.

1873 - Carroll Parish, LA Tax Assessment Roll
Tax payments on livestock and vehicles by John Atlas, King Atlas, Sr. and William Steven Atlas, Sr. All were living at Longwood Plantation, in the northeast portion of the parish.

1888 - East Carroll Parish Tax Assessment Rolls
Documentation of payment of taxes on 80 acres by John Atlas, the first documented land owner of the earliest traceable ancestors.

Tax payments on livestock and vehicles by King Atlas, Jr., King Atlas, Sr.and Andrew Atlas.

On the surface, a researcher may just take these records for face value. But, when one looks deeper at records such as these, they may uncover a wealth of information about their ancestors, especially if they were formerly enslaved.

The 1873 tax assessment record lists that John, King, Sr. and William were all living at Longwood Plantation. We discussed this location in a previous post. Since this tax assessment record was taken only 8 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, John, King, Sr. and William's location on it may be key in narrowing down the search for the last plantation they lived on and possibly, their last slaveowner. In addition, one can compare where they were living then to the 1870 and 1880 US Census to see if they migrated to another area of the county or parish they lived.

Taking this one step further, a researcher can then use current tax records to see if they can narrow down the exact current day location of the plantation that their ancestors resided on. In East Carroll Parish, the legal land descriptions have not changed much, so they may include the name of the plantation that was on that land.

The Louisiana Tax Commission has a website of their tax rolls for every parish in the state. East Carroll Parish has tax records available from 2006 to present. One can select the parish, then specific tax year and from there, search by legal description. Tax documents for current landowners of that property then appear, most times with a property address. It's possible to put that address into Google Maps and narrow down the current day location of the plantation. Since the Mississippi River has moved over time, there may be areas along the river in Louisiana that don't exist as they are now underwater.

Happy hunting!


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