Life Can Be Taxing

purplehairI got my hair done last week. It’s one of those place where they have specialists, one person does your color and another does your cut. They make an effort to remember who you are. I suspect they actually put notes in your customer profile, so they can ask you personal questions that show their “customer focused” service. So, my hair stylist asks “What have you been finding in your genealogy lately?”  How sweet that he asks!  Well, I tell him (knowing not to go into too much detail or he might actually nod off while cutting my hair), “I have finally found a tax record that gives evidence of when my ancestor died in Texas.”  I can tell he isn’t impressed (even I know that doesn’t sound exciting), but he just looks at me with almost pity and says “Rachelle, you really need to get out more.”  I had thought I was being cool by adding a purple streak in my hair, but I was undone by my tax record.

But isn’t that just like genealogy, sometimes it is the boring records that give you exactly what you are looking for. Not the probate record or a newspaper article that says your ancestor committed a crime, but the steady unglamorous records of running a government.  Even worse, confirmation of taxation, Americans least favorite part of government.  But I tell you, this is a worthy document.

I had the 1870 census record that gave evidence that Irvin Patterson McCrary had moved from Lawrence, Alabama to Henderson County, Texas with his family.

1870 Census Henderson County, Texas Irvin P. McCrary Family

1870 Census Henderson County, Texas
Irvin P. McCrary Family

The 1880 census record shows his wife Mary Jane McCrary is still living in Henderson County, Texas but she is a widow.  Irvin must have died between 1870 and 1880.

1880 Census - Henderson County, Texas Mary Jane McCrary Family

1880 Census – Henderson County, Texas
Mary Jane McCrary Family

I haven’t been able to find church records, a grave, a deed of sale or anything else that gives an indication when Irvin died, until I found the county tax records for Texas on Family Search. There was a lot of taxing going on post Civil War and the state of Texas taxed their residents almost every year between 1870 and 1880. So what did I find? Mrs. M. J. McCrary paid property taxes in 1871.

1871 Property Tax, Henderson County, Texas Mrs. Mary Jane McCrary

1871 Property Tax, Henderson County, Texas
Mrs. Mary Jane McCrary

Eureka! So that means that Irvin had to have died sometime between August 16, 1870 and December 31,1871.

Yeah for tax records!  But now I need to come up with something really hot to discuss for my next trip to the hairdresser…oh the pressure…..

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2 Responses to Life Can Be Taxing

  1. Jill Morelli says:

    Rachelle, I love the story of the banal leading to a genealogist’s lodestone! ( I’d say “holy grail” but that gives it too much importance. ) is it possible Irvin abandoned Mary? Miss you. Jill

    • Rachelle says:

      Well, it is always a possibility that he left his family, but his behavior up till this point doesn’t indicate that he would. His brother’s family had also moved to Henderson Texas as well as his 7 children that married other farmers/farmer’s daughters in the area. So, he had a support system despite the challenge of Reconstruction. He bought the property in 1868 and the deed was registered in 1870. I am still looking for probate records and newspaper accounts of the time period. There is a grave stone with E. P. McCrary (no dates) according to Find A Grave, but no picture so there is always a possibility that might be him. Still working on “exhausting” the resources before concluding one way or another. My gut says he died, but I know that I can’t use that as documented evidence. 🙂
      I miss you too…wish I could take your classes on Swedish records you will be offering.

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