Sunday, August 2, 2009

Agricultural and Mechanical census schedules

For a few of my previous posts I've made use of the agricultural and mechanical census schedules which accompanied the more familiar decennial population census. Unlike the population census though, these are a bit harder to find, especially online. I thought I'd link to scans (warning - somewhat large pdfs) I've made of these schedules for what is now the Durham area in 1850 and 1860.

The 1850 manufacturing census for all of then Orange county takes up only one page. You can see that grain mills (great map of many of the Eno mills) and tannery operations make up the majority of manufactures in the county, powered by water, hand, or horse. The Cheek carriage making business employed the most of any of the recorded industries, with six paid male employees.

The 1860 Orange county manufacturing census records the first tobacco factories in the area as well as the Shields+Bennett Alpha Woolen Mill (in today's Eno state park) s is enumerated as employing 3 men and 5 women to produce "Jeans etc." Also enumerated are John Leathers' (an important figure in the last post) mill as well as the mill at Orange Factory which had by far the largest industrial workforce in the county at 20 men and 30 women.

While the manufacturing censuses are relatively short and cover the entire county, the agricultural schedules run to dozens of pages and at least for 1850 it is quite difficult to separate out what we now know as the Durham area from the rest of Orange county. I erred on the side of caution and scanned all the pages with the names of early Durham landowners familiar to me.

You'll notice many names familiar from Durham history (and Durham streets!) in the 1850 census. There are plenty of Greens, Markhams, Strayhorns, Mangums, Lattas, etc. as well as Bartlett Durham himself. The illustration above shows Willis Borland's agricultural production for 1849-50: 100 bushels of wheat, 300 bushels of Indian corn, 1400 pounds of Tobacco, and on the continuation (not shown) 30 bushels of peas and beans, and 200 pounds of butter.

The 1860 agricultural census helpfully situates some enumerated farms in the Durhamville post office area but I've also included additional pages containing farms I know to have been in what is now West Durham and elsewhere. Note on page 11 the truly massive landholdings of William N. Pratt. Much of Jesse Riggsbee's 200 acres (p.5) on which he grew 450 bushels of maize and 600 bushels of sweet potatoes became Duke's west campus in the 1920s (you can find his headstone near Wallace Wade).

Producing high quality scans from microfilm is somewhat time-consuming but I hope someday to also put up the Ag and Mech schedules from 1870 and 80. In the mean time they are available at the Durham County library and at UNC (NC counties A-C available online: 1870, 1880).

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