Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wheeler County Texas Tax Rolls ~ 52 Ancestors #15

I am participating in this year's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from Amy Johnson Crow. Each week has an optional writing prompt and this week's writing prompt is Taxes.

I have never really explored tax records, which are a great resource for placing a person (or people) in a particular location at a particular time.

I decided to explore at its collection list ( where I simply entered tax in the "filter by collection name" box. (These are not all of the records that might be available at FamilySearch, just what are available in the collection list.)

Very early on in my blog, I shared information (at Texas Stock Farmer) about a third great aunt of mine, Florence (Gorin) Lee, who was born in Kentucky in 1851 and died in Texas in 1925. In 1880, she married John Atkin Lee (1844-1925) in Louisville, Kentucky.

I found them in Wheeler County, Texas, in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, but I don't know when they moved there and purchased land. Now, I think I do - at least I know when they were first taxed on land purchased there. The tax records at Texas, County Tax Rolls, 1837-1910, at FamilySearch show that Mrs. F. G. Lee was paying taxes in Wheeler County by 1896 and Mrs. Florence G. Lee and John A. Lee were both on the rolls in 1897.

Mrs. F.G. Lee tax entry, Wheeler County Land District, 1896, page 4, Wheeler County, Texas; County Tax Rolls, 1937-1910, citing Comptroller's Office, State Archives, Austin; digital images, ( : accessed 13 April 2018).

The title (over two pages) reads: Assessment of Property in Wheeler County, Owned by Residents and / Rendered for Taxation by the Owners or Agents thereof for the Year 1896.

Headings for this section are:
Owner:  Lee, Mrs. F. G.
Abstract No.:  five are listed
Certificate or Scrip No.:  five are listed
Survey No.: five are listed
From Whom Acquired:  Sam Lazarus [all five]
How Acquired:  Purchased
Original Grantee:  F. M. Goodwin (two), H + GN R.R. Co. (Houston and Great Northern Railroad), F. M. Goodwin, James Caufield
Acres Rendered:  five lots totaling 1,440 acres
Value:  five entries totaling $2,520

Mrs. F. G. Lee owned 11 horses and mules, 39 cattle, 70 hogs, one carriage / buggy / wagon "of whatever kind," as well as manufacturers tools, and $100 in "Banks, Brokers or other persons," and $150 in miscellaneous property. The total value of all that she reported was $3,615.

State Taxes were $7.23; school taxes were $6.51; poll taxes were $1.50; County taxes were $23.50; County poll taxes were $0.75. Total State and County Taxes were $39.49.


Following is the full double page of entries that include John A. Lee and Florence G. Lee in 1897:

John A. Lee and Mrs. Florence G. Lee tax entries, Wheeler County Land District, 1897, unpaginated (alphabetized by surname), Wheeler County, Texas; County Tax Rolls, 1937-1910, citing Comptroller's Office, State Archives, Austin; digital images, ( : accessed 13 April 2018).

In 1897, Mrs. Florence G. Lee was taxed on the same land that was listed in 1896 and John A. Lee was in the entry just above her. He was only charged the poll tax; she was charged tax on the land and property (which had increased in value to $2,880).

This tax list is informative: it shows that they owned 23 horses and mules, 75 cattle, and 2 carriages, buggies, or wagons. The total value of their taxable property was $4,512, quite an increase from the previous year. Florence's total tax increased in 1897 to $46.47. John's tax was the $1.75 poll tax.

Additional research would include exploring land records, to see exactly when they purchased land in Wheeler County. (From the tax records, I can see that in subsequent years, both she and he purchased additional lots in Wheeler County.) Also researching in probate records would be interesting, as they didn't have children.

I still don't know what made them decide to move from Kentucky, where they were both born, to Texas and become cattle ranchers. Later, they lived in California, but continued to own the land in Texas.


  1. I haven't done much with tax lists, either - I need to give it a try!

    1. They can certainly add to what we know about our ancestors. Thanks for commenting.