Crawford County, Pennsylvania


© 2012 Thomas L. Yoset, J.D.

      The earliest Constitutions of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania mandated an “enumeration of taxable inhabitants” every seven years, “in such manner as shall be directed by law.”1  The legislature responded, beginning in 1779, with a succession of statutes providing for such a state census.2  These statutes directed county commissioners to have their tax assessors (or other appointees) prepare alphabetical lists of the names, together with occupations, of all taxable persons aged 21 years or older actually residing within their respective township, ward, or district.  The returns were to be filed with the clerk of the county court of quarter sessions,3 and “duplicates” sent to the Governor for presentation to the General Assembly.  The principal purpose of the enumeration was apportionment, i.e., determining representation in the state legislature.

       The fourth septennial census was to be taken before 31 July 1800.4  Although Crawford and adjacent counties had been created from Allegheny County on 12 March 1800, all townships in northwestern Pennsylvania were returned as part of Allegheny County.5  The three townships covering Crawford County are transcribed here verbatim from the microfilmed duplicates, except that “Ditto,” “Do,” and other forms of “the same” (in reference to occupations) have been rendered with apostrophes.6  Question marks, where legibility is poor, and other editorial additions have been placed inside square brackets.

       The lists are valuable in showing occupations, which are not given in the 1800 federal census returns7 or (unless taxable) tax rolls.8  They also include some individuals not found on the tax duplicates or in the federal census (possibly because they were not heads of households).

       Note:  For Crawford County, the state census provides ONLY name, occupation, and (for Mead Township only) information concerning slaves.

 Mead Township 88-95
 List of Slaves 140
 Con[n]eat Township 96-99
 Oil Creek Township 114-15
 Summary Abstract 143

88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 114 115 140 143

1  Constitution of 1776, Section 17.  Constitution of 1790, Section 4.

2  The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania, 1682-1809, 18 vols. (Harrisburg, 1896-1915), 9(1776-1779):326 (Ch. 831, “An act to provide for the enumeration of the taxable inhabitants of this Commonwealth,” passed 29 March 1779); 12:169 (Ch. 704, passed 3 March 1786); 14:408 (Ch. 1683, passed 10 April 1793); 16:434 (Ch. 2119, passed 7 March 1800); 18:437 (Ch. 2800, passed 31 March 1807).  1813-14 Pa. Laws 60 (Ch. 37, approved 21 Feb. 1814).  1820-21 Pa. Laws 4 (Ch. 5, approved 6 Jan. 1821).

3  No such lists were found by the writer among Crawford County Quarter Sessions Court papers, nor were the returns included in the court dockets.

4  “An act to provide for the enumeration of the taxable inhabitants and slaves within this Commonwealth,” The Statutes at Large of Pennsylvania ... [supra note 2], 16:434 (Ch. 2119, passed 7 March 1800).  This particular act omitted any mention of occupations, except in the section directing that the lists also be posted for public inspection.

5  The 1793 enumeration for Allegheny County should have also included the territory which became Crawford County, but those returns apparently do not survive.

6  “Allegheny County Return of Taxables Received in the Secretary’s Office December 2nd 1800,” Pa. State Archives Record Group 7, Records of the General Assembly, Septennial Census Returns, 1779-1863, Roll #242.

7  See 1800 U.S. census of Crawford County.

8  See CCG 19(1996):19-30 (Mead, Conneaut, and Oil Creek Townships), 121-45 (Erie, Mercer, and Warren Counties, and part of Beaver and Venango Counties).