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The 1863 Tax Assessment List

Written & copyrighted by Janet Morrison, 2006

        Did you know that Cabarrus County is one of the few counties in North Carolina for which the 1863 Tax Assessment records exist?  It wasn't until I inquired in Charlotte and at the State Archives in Raleigh that I learned that no such records survived for Mecklenburg.           

        "What's the big deal?" you may ask.

        The Congress of the Confederate States of America passed Statute 177 on August 19, 1861, which authorized the levying of a tax to help finance the War Between the States.  A tax rate of fifty cents per $100 valuation was established.

        Taxable property included "real estate, slaves, merchandise, stocks, securities, money, and other property."  Subsequent legislation expanded the list in April, 1863, to include agricultural products, many occupations and trades, some businesses, and income.

        The Cabarrus County Board of Assessors met at the courthouse in Concord on April 9, 1863. The Board increased the values of thirteen pieces of property in District (now Township) No. 1 and then recorded the names of all taxpayers by district.

        The 1863 Cabarrus Tax Assessment records list each property owner in alphabetical order by district.  The districts of 1863 essentially coincide with today's townships.  There are columns for number of acres of land owned, value per acre, and total value.  The river or creek on which the land lay is also indicated.

        In 1863, real estate in what is now Township No. 1 ranged in value from $6 to $400 per acre.  Most land was valued in the $6 to $20 per acre range.  One of the exceptions was the half acre of land owned by Howie and Johnston, mercantile business partners in Harrisburg.  Although their store closed in 1858, the property was valued at $200 in 1863. 

        It is interesting to read about the old land values and to think how things have changed, but the most intriguing part of the 1863 Tax Assessment records for me is the list of slaves.  Under each slave holder is a list of their slaves by name.  The age of each slave is given, along with their value.  In cases of physical or mental disability, the type of disability is listed.

        There is a definite pattern in how the slaves were valued.  Male children were generally valued at the rate of $100 for each year of their age, while female children were valued at $50 less.  Slaves less than one year old were valued at $100.  Young adult female slaves were typically valued at around $1,400, while young adult male slaves were valued around $1,600.  The value of a slave in his or her late 30s began to decrease.

        Two slaves listed as being blacksmiths were valued at $1,800 each, which was the highest value of any slaves in Township No. 1.

        It is sobering to read the names of the slaves and to see a monetary value placed on them.  As an amateur genealogist and historian, I see tremendous value in the records. 


1863 Cabarrus County Tax Assessment List on microfilm at the Lore Local History Room, Cabarrus County Public Library, Concord.

The Confederacy:  A Guide to the Archives of the Government of the Confederate State of America, by Henry Putney Beers, 1968.