Explanation of Southside Virginia Personal Property Tax 1782-1850 Spreadsheet


To use this spreadsheet you need to have Microsoft Excel or any other spreadsheet program that can read .xlsx files. This is a large spreadsheet with over 75 columns and 1160 rows! Before you try to use this spreadsheet, your frustration will be greatly reduced if you master hiding and un-hiding rows and columns. (Hint: Never hide the first row or column. Un-hiding them can be tricky). Using the hide and unhide feature makes focusing on what is important to you very easy.


The Spreadsheet is sorted alphabetically as follows: Columns: A (A-Z), B (Smallest to Largest), C (Smallest to Largest), D (Largest to Smallest). If you want to organize it by county simply sort by Columns: H (A-Z), A (A-Z), B (Smallest to Largest), C (Smallest to Largest), D (Largest to Smallest).


Virginia has a fantastic series of personal property Tax Digests. There is a list for each year for each county from 1782 to 1850. There is no list for the year 1808 for any county. There are only a tiny fraction of the other years missing even for burned counties.

A poll tax was due from each white male age 16 years or older, along with taxes for slaves, horses, cattle and, in later years a variety of other taxable items. This table only addresses the poll tax. All males had to pay taxes. Females did not show up in the tax digests unless (1) they had taxable males in their household; or (2) they had other taxable property. Some taxpayers are marked as “exempt” for one or more years.

After a male died, his estate may pay taxes while it was still open.

In the years 1782-1786 each county had multiple tax districts. From 1787 on most counties had 2 districts. When organizing and microfilming these records, the LVA arbitrarily assigned a letter A or B to each list. It is important to note that the lists assigned year to year are most often not consistent. One year a district may be assigned the letter A and the next year it might be assigned the letter B.

The format of the tax digests changed over the years and can differ slightly by county. In the early years the first few column in the tax digests are somewhat like the following:

Name of Taxpayer

Names of Males over age 16

Names of Other Males over age 21

Names of Slaves

Total Number of Taxable Males

Various Columns and Tabulations


Typically, but not always minor sons.





In later years the details were dropped in favor of simple tabulations. The first few columns looked something like this:

Name of Taxpayer

Total Number of Taxable Males

Various Columns and Tabulations
















Then in some years for some counties, the total number of taxable males is dropped completely.

The tax assessors used a variety of techniques to identify multiple people with the same first name. The simplest was to assign Sr. (the eldest, but not necessarily, the father); and Jr. (the youngest, but not necessarily, the father).

Then as more names conflicted, they added nicknames, i.e. “Buck”; tag letters, i.e. “BC” for Buffalo Creek, “SD” for son of David (one assessor in Mecklenburg County even listed “Son of ____” after numerous names); and even later middle initials. It is important to know that the tags used may not be consistent from year to year.

Coverage and Research Goals

The spreadsheet covers the City of Petersburg plus the following 21 counties in Southside Virginia:



Charles City








Isle of Wight







Prince Edward

Prince George




The goal of this spreadsheet is to:

•provide a finding aid to find Vaughan males in Virginia from 1782-1850

•help figure out and separate two or more men of the same name

•help show migrations within the State of Virginia

•help identify when someone died or moved on

This spreadsheet is in DRAFT FORM. I am currently adding more counties . Until such time as I finish all 21 counties I intend to cover, the only sort will be by first second columns. A person often has more than one row assigned. This means you may have to hunt around in a given name to separate out one individual and keep his information in chronological order.

Take a look at Zedekiah Vaughan near the last row. His rows (when this spreadsheet is finalized) will be:

1782 Amelia County, Paid by Lewis

1783 Amelia County

1784-1833 Charlotte County

1834 Charlotte County, Estate of

Column B

Column B is my attempt to group each person that has more than one row together. A good example is Willis 2. He marries in Amelia County, then moves to Brunswick, then Lunenburg, then Mecklenburg County. Deeds in each of the counties confirm he is one and the same person. If I can not isolate a person from the others of the same name the default is number in Column B is 99 meaning all the various people are lumped together.

Column C = Relationship

Currently, if the relationship is in brackets, it means that I have proposed the relationship based upon who paid the taxes or external research outside of the tax digests. Otherwise, it could be an expressly stated in the tax digest or a proposed relationship by me. I plan to clear up the inconsistency at a later date. Most of the expressly stated relationships are in Mecklenburg County.

What the Letters Under the Years Mean.

 Please be patient with me here. This project started with the accumulation of information decades ago when there was no such thing as a spreadsheet. I gathered information and was not consistent as I wrote it down. Currently, the preferred format is, for example, A2. This means the person was on list A and paid taxes on 2 males. The following chart might help.

District Code

White Polls

Special (optional)

(These are rare)


A list as arbitrarily assigned by LVA or by me


No poll Paid


Estate of


B list as arbitrarily assigned by LVA or by me


1 Poll




Joint list- all lists are merged into one list (Mainly 1782-1786)


2 polls


Minor Taxpayer (Under Age 16)


Single List - there was only list in the County for that year


3 Polls


Under Age 21


ZZ or ZZZ= Initials of Tax Assessor


4 Polls


Taxpayer Exempt




Number of polls not specified in List






Need to review list again to determine number of polls



Extra Polls may be older sons helping a parent, boarders, parents, siblings.

Some tax digests expressly prove relationships, but most provide hints and circumstantial evidence of relationships.

David H. Robertson, 159 Hickory St., Roswell, GA 30075 davidhr@hushmail.com