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Saturday, April 14, 2018

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 15: Taxes–Evidence Found About Samuel Johnston--MSF


I am working on this year-long prompt, hosted by Amy Johnson Crow. I will write each week in one of my two blogs, either Mam-ma’s Southern Family or at My Trails Into the Past. I’m looking forward to writing about my children’s ancestors in new and exciting ways.

I am still trying to discover more about Samuel Johnston so I can discover his origins in South Carolina. This week I’m looking at tax records.

There are tax records digitized at the Mississippi State Archives and the images are available on FamilySearch.[1] I could search the database, but instead I browsed the records specifically from Yalobusha County, where the Johnston family was living in 1850 and 1860.

The earliest tax record was for 1853.[2] There are 47 images for the county and the names are listed in loose alphabetical order (i.e. all the J surnames are together). There were no “Johnston” names, but five “Johnson” names listed together, including a Samuel.



There are additional Johnsons on the previous page: Benj F., David, Willis, and Robert were listed together, along with John, B.F., William, James, Littleton, another William, and Peter. There are fifteen Johnson men altogether. Sometimes Johnston and Johnson can get mixed up.

To analyze this document, one must make note that the names are written in alphabetical order. The clerk who created the document either placed the names on the page as the taxpayer came to pay, or rewrote the list onto a new sheet.  The previous page had J surnames but also surnames that began with “I.” These names were probably copied onto this form. An error could occur with the rewriting of the names. Any of these “Johnsons” could have been “Johnston.”

There were many columns in the tax record.  The only columns marked for Samuel “Johnson” were 1 poll marked for 31 cents, 31 cents for county & special tax, and $1.25 for railroad tax, for a total of $1.87. He had no slaves.

In 1854, the tax book was different. The listings were land owners and they were listed by section, township, and range. Samuel Johnson was listed in Township 25, Range 6, in Section 12. He was listed at the SW¼ of Section 12. This 160 acres was valued at $2 per acre for a total of $320.

The amount of state tax on land was 57 cents. The county & special tax was 56 cents. And the railroad tax was 56 cents. The total tax was $1.53.

Because of the way this was written out, it is possible to plot out his neighbors.

Platting this out opens up questions. Who was R.H. Johnson, and was he related to Samuel? What possible relationship might Samuel Johnson have with these other men in Sections 12, 11, 14, and 13?

To answer these questions, I might study again the 1850 census for each of these landowners. I would also obtain the deeds for each of these pieces of land to determine its history of purchases and sales. I would also check to see if there are probate records for any of these men, especially the one for L.G. Philips.



1857 tax list listed Samuel Johnston. He had one clock, valued at $5, 1 poll, and no slaves. There were other “Johnston” names listed:
  • John had 3 slaves, no poll
  • T.S. Johnston had no slaves, 1 poll
  • RH Johnston had 1 watch ($40),  30 cattle over 20 head, 11 slaves, 1 poll
  • Mary had 3 slaves, no poll




There are also “Johnson” names. Making a spreadsheet to keep track of all of the Johnson and Johnston names will be very useful.


[1] “Mississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-1951,” database & images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/collection/1919687 : accessed 13 Apr 2018).
[2] "Mississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-1951," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : 13 Apr 2018), Yalobusha > County tax rolls 1853, Box 3778 > image 22 of 49; Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.

Copyright © 2018 by Lisa Suzanne Gorrell, Mam-ma's Southern Family

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