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 1860 Census

(c) Linda Haas Davenport (Updated 2007)

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The Congress left the rules for the 1860 Census the same as for the 1850 census. The same people were in charge, the same number of copies were made and the same problems occurred. The same special schedules were made; Industrial, Manufacturing, Slave, Mortality and some Social Statistic Schedules. They should all be checked.

This census is however a most important census in that it is the last census before the Civil War. This is the last stable time before the Civil War split families, before the time thousands of people were killed and before the great migrations started that moved people all over the county.

During the Civil War women and children were much on the move. They moved to "safer" areas farther behind the lines of the fighting, they moved to distant relatives for either safety or because they couldn't continue to run their farms without male labor. In the South elite plantation women were raised to be more decorative than useful and without a strong man on the plantations many women could not control their slaves or were afraid of them. Many women who were left to manage a farm on her own, while a husband, father or brother was at War, found their homes and farms destroyed by the enemy. Faced with hunger and danger many moved in with relatives or friends. And, many women followed their husbands, from post to post, war zone to war zone, some taking their children and some sending children to relatives or friends.

Many children, especially daughters, were sent to other places for safety while married women remained on the farm or stayed and ran a family business. While away daughters married men far removed from their own neighborhood or they married service men they met who were stationed in the towns they were visiting. Many women lost husbands during the Civil War and returned to their Father's home or went to live with other relatives. Widows remarried between the 1860-1870 census and marriage licenses weren't always recorded where we would expect to find them. Many women seemingly vanished between this census and the 1870 census.

The Civil War is blamed for a huge number of courthouses being burned. Records that can never be replaced were lost during this War.

Look closely at the ages of your family members on this census and mark the males that would have been old enough to have fought in the Civil War. Bear in mind that many a young man lied about his age or went to serve with a father or brother at around 13 upwards. And the females, which ones would have been of marriageable age? And, you will probably have to track the kin-folks of your families to find many of your females.



State: ______ County ______ Township ______ P.O.______ Call No ____


1860 Census Schedule


Schedules are broken down by: Dwelling # in the order visited; Family # in the order visited; The Name of Every Person Whose Usual Place of Abode on the 1st Day of June 1850 was in this family; Age; Sex; Color (White, Black or Mulatto); Profession, Occupation or trade of each male person over 15 years of age; Value of Real Estate; Value of Personal Property; Birthplace naming the State, Territory or Country; Married within year; In school within year; Cannot read or write; Whether Deaf, Dumb, Blind, Insane, Pauper or Convict

This census adds to the county and state designation, a township and Post Office address. This is a real help in locating the family on old maps.

The only thing difference between the 1850 and 1860 Census is the addition of the request for the value of personal property. Remember that slaves were considered property. If your ancestor was a slave owner then you should see a great difference between the value of his personal property on the 1860 & 1870 census. If you do then be sure to check court records as many freed slaves information included information on the prior owners. For those of you searching for African-American families be sure to search the slave schedules watching for 1st names found on the 1870 & upward censuses. Record the slave owner's name and search for records on that man to find all the information possible on slave transfers.

If you can't find your family on the 1860 census in the same county as the 1870 census then they might have been one of the families that packed up and moved. You should have the birthplaces of many of the children from the 1870 census. Check the birthplaces of the children in the family for a clue as to where the family lived in 1860. Check your 1870 census records again and look for name changes of the children or birth dates that are too close together for children to have the same mother. This is a clue that this marriage might well have taken place because the father/husband was killed in the Civil War.

If you can't find a clue to where the family was in 1860 or if it seems that the family didn't move, check the entire census for the county looking at the first names of wives and children, it's entirely possible the woman remarried or is living with friends or family. You are more familiar with the grouping of your family names than anyone, so scan the census looking for those names, while ignoring the last name and the husbands name. Many a family historian has been tripped up or stuck at brick walls simply because they didn't spend the time to read every line of a county census. And, sometimes it is necessary to expand your search to adjoining counties.

If you still can't find your family check the microfilm records for the Civil War. If you have a southern ancestor don't assume that he must have served in the Confederacy or a northern ancestor the Union. Check both. Don't confine your search to just your ancestor's name, search for sons, brothers, uncles, nephews, etc., families usually moved together and locating a relative can often lead you to your ancestor's location. A Civil War enlistment card will give you a clue as the person's place of residence. Sometimes this is the only clue as to where to look for a family in 1860.

When using this census to try to determine age, find marriage records or school records bear in mind that the "year" being recorded is from Jun 1st of the prior year through Jun 1 of the census year. So a person who was married "within the year" could well have been married in the last half of the prior year or a person who attended school could have done so in the winter of the prior year.

All court records for southern ancestors should be searched for the years 1860 to 1870, since there was a lot of land confiscated after the Civil War and slaves were freed. Court cases abounded, even if your ancestor didn't fight the battle in court there may be records of the land being taken back. Many times the court battles lasted long after the person moved and they often mention the new place of residence or mention that the owner was killed during the war and children along with other heirs were named. Don't neglect guardianship papers. If a father/husband was killed during the Civil War and a woman did not remarry there will often to guardianship papers filed which often mention remarriage or moves.

The same additional Schedules for Industry, Agriculture, Mortality and Social Satiates were made for this census. If at all possible be sure to track these down for the additional information they can give you.

The 1860 Census is on 1,438 rolls of Microfilm. Group # M653. Counties believed to be missing for this census are: Indian Lands, Little River Co, AR; Hernando Co FL; Bienville Parish LA; Hancock, Sunflower, Washington COs, MS; Blanco, Coleman, Concho, Duval, Edwards, Hardeman, Kimble, Knox, LaSalle, McCullock, McMullen, Tarrant, Taylor, Wichita, Wilbarger and Wilson COs TX; Benton, Columbia, San Juan, Snonomish and Stevens COs WA.

Even though this census has been indexed by several companies you also need to be prepared to sit down and read the microfilm, line by line, for an entire county.


As with any of my essays I appreciate any corrections, additional information or comments. [an error occurred while processing this directive]


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