Tax Districts – Overview

Contributed by Julia Cauble Smith

White County, Tennessee, was divided into taxing units that corresponded to its militia districts in the period 1811 through 1835. The year 1811 was the first extant tax list in White County. From 1836 onward the taxing units were referred to by number, such District No. 1 or District No. 15.

One who was listed on the tax roll in a certain militia district may or may not have served in the militia in that district, depending on his age, physical ability, and occupation. It is assumed that the Captain who was listed in that militia bearing his name was actually an elected officer in the militia.

Rosters of those who served in the militia from White County and other counties of Tennessee during the War of 1812 and its associated Creek War in 1814 have been published. [Tennesseans in the War of 1812]

Soldiers who served in 4th Regiment West Tennessee Militia Infantry in federal service, January 1814-May 1814, served under Captains: James Bennett, Robert Campbell, John Chitwood, Samuel Maxwell, James Randals, Richard Ratton, and James Shinault. See also.

Those listed as paying a white poll in Tennessee from 1811 and onward were between the ages of 21 and 50. The date of birth of your research subject can be determined with fair accuracy when he drops off the list at age 50 because he will give proof to th e collector that year.

The age he first pays a poll and comes onto the list (if he owns no taxable property) may be off by a few years. No one goes to the tax collector and tells him he is now age 21 and ready to be taxed.

If one owned slaves, he paid a black poll for each. Early tax lists taxed also on stud horses, rate or fee for the horses’ services, retail stores, town lots, carriages, and acres of land. The location of the land was sometimes given.

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