How to Research your
North Carolina
Foster Family

North Carolina: 1790, 1820 & 1850 Census

Click here first
to see the overall growth of the Foster Families as they spread out with the
expansion of the United States during this sixty year time period.  See how all Northern and
Southern Foster Families expanded to the states around them as the country moved west!


For North Carolina, see Early Tax Lists prior to 1790.

1790 United States Federal Census (36) Foster Head of Households living in North Carolina.

Enumerators of the 1790 census were asked to include the following categories in the census: name of head of household, number of free white males and females, number of other free persons, number of slaves, town or district and sometimes town or district of residence.

The categories allowed Congress to determine persons residing in the United States for collection of taxes and the appropriation of seats in the House of Representatives. This first United States census schedules differs in format from later census material, as each enumerator was expected to make his own copies on whatever paper he could find. Unlike later census schedules an enumerator could arrange the records as he pleased. This database is certain to prove useful for those seeking early American ancestors.

The United States was the first country to call for a regularly held census. The Constitution required that a census of all "Persons...excluding Indians not taxed" be performed to determine the collection of taxes and the appropriation of seats in the House of Representatives. The first nine censuses from 1790-1870 were organized under the United States Federal Court system. Each district was assigned a U.S. marshal who hired other marshals to administer the census. Governors were responsible for enumeration in territories.

The jurisdiction of the original thirteen states canvassed an area of seventeen present states. Schedules survive for eleven of the thirteen original states: Connecticut, Maine (part of Massachusetts at the time), Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont. (Vermont became the fourteenth state early in 1791 and was included in the census schedules).

Enumerators were only required to make one copy of the census schedules to be held by the clerk of the district court in their respective area. In 1830, Congress passed a law requiring the return of all decennial censuses from 1790-1830. At this point it was discovered that many of the 1790 schedules had been lost or destroyed. Thus, we have about two-thirds of the original census from the time period. The 1790 census suffered district losses of Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Virginia. However, some of the schedules for these states have been re-created using tax lists and other records. Virginia was eventually reconstructed from tax lists as well as some counties from North Carolina and Maryland.

1820 United States Federal Census (65) Foster Head of Households living in North Carolina. 

Enumerators of the 1820 census were asked to include the following categories in the census: name of head of household, number of free white males and females in age categories: 0 to 10, 10 to 16, 16 to 26, 26 to 45, 45 and older; number of other free persons except Indians not taxed; number of slaves; and town or district and county of residence. Additionally, the 1820 census for the first time asked the number of free white males 16 to 18; number of persons to be naturalized; number engaged in agriculture, commercial, or manufacture; number of "colored" persons (sometimes in age categories); and number of other persons except Indians. The categories allowed Congress to determine persons residing in the United States for collection of taxes and the appropriation of seats in the House of Representatives. Most entries are arranged in the order of visitation, but some have been rearranged to appear in alphabetical order by initial letter of the surname. Manufacturing schedules are scattered among the 1820 population schedules.

Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do the U.S. federal censuses. The population schedules are successive "snapshots" of Americans that depict where and how they were living at particular periods in the past. Because of this, the census is often the best starting point for genealogical research after home sources have been exhausted.

The official enumeration day of the 1820 census was 7 August 1820. All questions asked were supposed to refer to that date. The count was due within six months, but the due date was extended by law to allow completion within thirteen months. By 1820, there were a total of twenty-three states in the Union. The six new states were Louisiana, Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama and Maine. There was, however, a district wide loss for Arkansas Territory, Missouri Territory and New Jersey. Partial losses included half the counties in Alabama, and roughly 20 eastern Tennessee counties supervised by the Federal Court District out of Knoxville. Some of the schedules for these states have been re-created using tax lists and other records.

1850 United States Federal Census (582) Foster Head of Households, spouse & children living in North Carolina.

For the first time in the history of the United States census, enumerators of the 1850 census were instructed to record the names of every person in the household. Added to this, enumerators were presented with printed instructions, which account for the greater degree of accuracy compared with earlier censuses. Enumerators were asked to include the following categories in the census: name; age as of the census day; sex; color; birthplace; occupation of males over age fifteen; value of real estate; whether married within the previous year; whether deaf-mute, blind, insane, or "idiotic"; whether able to read or write for individuals over age twenty; and whether the person attended school within the previous year. No relationships were shown between members of a household. The categories allowed Congress to determine persons residing in the United States for collection of taxes and the appropriation of seats in the House of Representatives.

Few, if any, records reveal as many details about individuals and families as do the U.S. federal censuses. The population schedules are successive "snapshots" of Americans that depict where and how they were living at particular periods in the past. Because of this, the census is often the best starting point for genealogical research after home sources have been exhausted.

The 1850 Census includes the following states and territories: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota Territory (includes Dakota area), Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico Territory (includes Arizona area), New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon Territory (includes Washington and Idaho areas), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah Territory, Vermont, Virginia (includes West Virginia counties), Wisconsin.

The official enumeration day of the 1850 census was 1 June 1850. All questions asked were supposed to refer to that date. By 1850, there were a total of thirty-one states in the Union, with Florida, Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, and California being the latest editions. The four new territories of Oregon, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Utah were also enumerated. There were no substantial state- or district-wide losses.

Additional Websites provided by William Foster DNA Participant #109 to reviews by webmasters who share their research of North Carolina Census records for free.

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