History in the Making

Census Records

United States Census

The record of the population census from 1790 to 1930. Scanned from microfilm from the collections of the Allen County Public Library and originally from the United States National Archives Record Administration.

Pre-Stanly County Census

1790 North Carolina – entire state

Native American Population – Not all US Residents were counted in the 1790 census. Because the census determined both tax estimates and the number of state representatives in Congress, it was designed to record information on “persons excluding Indians not taxed.” Native Americans, who were not eligible to hold government seats and were generally not taxed, were not accurately recorded in a US census until 1940. However, some earlier censuses did include information about some Native Americans.

Slave Information – The 1790 census contains a lot of records relating to slaves and slaveholders. It is important to note that slaves are grouped according to owner names and ages. Sometimes birth orders and names of slave family members can be determined by simply comparing tax list data with probate inventories. The 1790 census will, in many cases, list neighbors who might be related to the person or persons of interest. That can help researchers to distinguish one family from another, even if the two families have the same name.

1800 Population Schedules – reel 33. Mecklenburg, Montgomery, New Hanover, Richmond, Rowan, Rutherford, and Wilkes Counties

Native American Population – As in the 1790 census, Native Americans who were not taxed were not listed on the census forms. Because Native Americans were not eligible to hold a seat in the US House of Representatives, their population was not considered relevant to the purpose of the 1800 census.

Slave Information – Slaves are listed according to the last names of their owners. This information can be compared to tax list data and probate inventories to determine names and birth orders of family members.

1810 Population Schedules – reel 41. Martin, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, Onslow, Orange, Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Pitt Counties

Native Americans – Most Native Americans in the US were not counted on the 1810 Census. At this time, “Indians not taxed,” which were those living on reservations or in unsettled territory, were not counted.

Slaves – Slaves are listed in the 1810 census under their owners’ last names. You can cross reference that information with tax lists and probate inventories in order to locate multiple members of the same slave family. You may also find that some of those family members are clearly listed by age in the census records. There are some scattered manufacturing schedules scattered amongst the 1810 census documents, which can give you further information.

1820 North Carolina federal census records, those for the counties of Wake, Martin, Franklin, Randolph, Montgomery, and Currituck are missing.

The 1820 census was the first to list “free white males 16 to 18″ and it was the first to ask for “the number of colored persons” in a household. The 1820 census also asked about the industries of household members, requesting a listing for all those engaged in commercial business, manufacturing, or agriculture. It was the first census to ask for “number of persons not naturalized.”

Slaves and Free African Americans – The “free men of color” of the time were listed if they were head of household. Slaves were listed according to the name of the slaveholder. In either case, you might be able to determine the names of family members of the free men or slaves in question. However, to do this you may have to compare the census information with tax lists and probate inventory lists.

1830 Population Schedules – reel 123. Macon, Montgomery, Northampton, New Hanover, Nash, Onslow, and Orange Counties

Slaves and Free African Americans – “Free men of color” were listed as heads of households, and their other family members may be traceable using tax records and other records from the time. If you are looking for information about a slave, that slave will be listed under the slaveholder’s name on the census records.

1840 Population Schedules – reel 365. Montgomery, Mecklenburg, and Martin Counties

Revolutionary War Pensioners – The 1840 census is the first census that mentions the Revolutionary War. It lists the names and ages of Revolutionary War pensioners. As a result, you can use that information to find a person of interest in other historical documents relating to the Revolutionary War.

Stanly County Census

1850 Free Schedules – reel 645. Stanly and Stokes Counties

1850 Slave Schedules – reel 656. Rutherford, Sampson, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Tyrell, Union, Wake, Warren, Washington, Watauga, Wayne, Wilkes, and Yancey Counties

Native Americans – The Native American population was listed in the 1850 census, referred to as “Indians.” However, Native Americans living on unsettled tracts of land or on government reservations were not listed. The addition of “Indians not in tribal relations” to the count was meant to help determine the number of representatives that each state or territory received.

Slave Information – The slave listings in the 1850 census were also more detailed than the listings in previous censuses. For example, the 1850 census has listings for manumitted slaves (slaves who were released and became free). The names of the slaves were not listed, but their sexes, ages and mental and physical health characteristics were listed. Each slave’s owner was also listed, allowing a slave to be tracked based on the slaveholder’s information.

1860 Free Schedules – reel 914. Stanly, Stokes, Surry Counties

1860 Slave Schedules – reel 926. Richmond, Robeson, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Sampson, Stanly, Stokes, Surry, Tyrrell Counties

1870 Population Schedules – reel 1160. Stanly and Stokes Counties

Civil War Surviviors – The 1870 census identified survivors of the Civil War. Therefore, genealogy research can be cross referenced between the census and military records of the time. If a person was in the military and is not listed in the census, they may have died in the war. According to “Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses 1790-1920,” many people from the southern states were not listed accurately in the 1870 census.

1880 Population Schedules – reel 982. Sampson, Stanly, Stokes, and Surry Counties

Recognition of Women – The 1880 census was the first United States census that allowed women to work as enumerators.  It was also the first census to collect the relationship of household members to the head of the household.  This simple addition of “wife” or “daughter” beside a person’s name provides valuable insight about the relationships within the families, and could help to identify unmarried daughters. It may me even list mothers-in-law, cousins and other extended family members.

The 1890 Census: On January 10, 1921, a fire in the Commerce Department building, Washington, DC, resulted in the destruction of most of the 1890 census, to the woe of researchers ever since. For more information.

1900 Population Schedules (Stanly County listed in two parts)
reel 1217. Sampson, Scotland, and Stanly (part: ED 120, sheets 1-11) Counties
reel 1218. Stanly (cont’d: ED 120, sheet 12-end), Stokes, and Swain Counties

Native American Residents – At the turn of the century, the relevance given to the Native American population began to change.  The 1900 census lists information on Native American residents (referred to as Indians). However, some records were kept in the state census records, not in the federal records for each territory or state.

1910 Population Schedules – reel 1125. New Hanover, Stanly, Northampton, and Pender Counties

Military Veterans – The census for 1910 identifies survivors of the Civil War.  It recognizes veterans of both the Union and Confederate militaries.

Native Americans – The 1910 Census collected information about the Native American population in a separate schedule.  This information can be found in the “Indian schedule”, which records the band or tribe of each Indian.

Education – By 1910, compulsory education laws were present in most states, elevating the importance of tracking education levels.  Information was collected about a person’s ability to read and write, along with the number of years of formal education received.

1920 Population Schedules – reel 1323. Stanly, Tyrell, and Vance Counties

Detailed Immigration Information – By 1920, a growing volume of the U.S. population had recently immigrated. One of the most genealogically useful things about the 1920 census is that it asks for detailed immigration information. For instance, it asks for the year that each immigrant arrived in the United States. It also asks for the year of naturalization, where applicable. This makes it very easy to research naturalization records for that time.

Women as Head of Household – The 1920 census lists many of women as the heads of their households, rather than listing the men as heads of their household. Therefore, when you are researching using the census, you may find it useful to look for female names.

World War I – During World War I, certain boundaries were modified. Therefore, enumerators of 1920 asked more specific questions about those whose origins were in Austria-Hungary, Russia, Germany, or Turkey.  Some even asked specific questions about town of origin for those born in other countries. The information and the way in which it was recorded varied somewhat between enumerators.

1930 Population Schedules – reel 1721. Scotland, Stanly, Stokes Counties

Effects of World War I – Due to boundary changes that occurred during World War I, some people weren’t sure how to record their country of origin because the status of the country had changed. Countries that were affected by the boundary issue were Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, Turkey and Bulgaria. Enumerators were instructed to write down the city, state, province or region of birth for the resident or their parents if the resident or their parents were born in any of the effected countries.

Native Americans – The 1930 census listed Native American (referred to as “Indian”) inhabitants of reservations within the schedules for the general population. However, each Native American’s parental records were recorded differently. On the mother’s side, tribe was recorded. On the father’s side, degree of Indian blood was recorded.