Attractive Statesville

Local History Notes

Notes about the history of Iredell County by Joel Reese, Local History Librarian.

View All Posts

Dec 30

Census records for manufacturing, agriculture, and mortality

Posted on December 30, 2019 at 8:46 AM by Jenny Levins

I have often read about people who say they grew up poor, but didn’t really know it because of all the love in their family. Well, my family had a lot of love too, but darned if I didn’t figure out pretty early on that the Reese’s just didn’t have a lot of the “Ole Mon” when it came time to go to town.


My father was working in a furniture factory in Lenoir when I was around nine years old. The owner of the house our family rented owned a grocery store and lived on a hill that looked down on us. To me they were always the rich people on the hill. They drove nice cars while my father spent half his time with the hood up on his. They had indoor plumping while we used an outhouse. Their grandson had a pony while I had a dog named “Lem” that liked to howl a lot at night and roll over on his back when other dogs came into the yard.  


Actually, being poor seems to be on the minds of a lot of people these days. As a rule, public libraries get used more when the economy is bad. It’s definitely cheaper to come to the library and check out books, movies on DVD, and music on CD than to go buy them. Computer use also increases now that companies often require people to submit their job applications online. Job listings in the newspapers that we carry from Iredell and other counties across North Carolina also get used more frequently.


Recently the Iredell County Public Library added to our collection of census records on microfilm. We now have the 1850 N.C. Industry Schedule, 1850 N.C. Agricultural Schedule and 1850 N.C. Social Statistics Schedule.  In 1860 we added the N.C. Agricultural Schedule, the Morality Schedule, and the Products of Industry Schedule. For 1870 we now have the Agricultural Schedule, the Industry Schedule, the Agricultural Schedule Statistical Summary, and the Manufacturer’s Schedule.


The 1880 covers 16 reels and includes the Agricultural Schedules and the Manufactures Schedules for each county. Agricultural Schedules provide information about individual farm holdings and production for the year immediately preceding the census. These are valuable both for the genealogical information they provide and also for the statistics they give showing the status of local agricultural life and business in Iredell County in the 1800’s.


The 1850 Federal Agricultural Schedules provided columns for about everything being raised on farms starting with the name of the Owner, Agent, or Manager of the farm, Acres of land, Improved, Unimproved, Cash value of the farm, Value of Farming Implements and Machinery, Horses, Asses and Mules, Milk Cows, Working Oxen, other Cattle, Sheep, Swine, Value of Live Stock, Wheat, Bushels of, Rye, Bushels of, Indian Corn, bushels of, Oats, bushels of.


Rice, lbs. of, Tobacco, lbs. of, Ginned Cotton, bales of 400 lbs. each, Wool, Pea’s and Beans, Irish Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Barley, Buckwheat, Orchard Products, Wine, Produce of Market Gardens, Butter, Cheese, Hay, Clover Seed, Grass Seeds, Hops, Hemp, Dew Rotted, Tons of and Water Rotted, Tons of, Flax, Flaxseed, Silk Cocoons, Maple Sugar, Cane Sugar, Molasses, Beeswax, Honey, Value of Home-made Manufacturers, and Value of Animals Slaughtered.


The Mortality Schedules provide valuable information for the family history researcher. In 1860 the mortality schedule for Iredell County shows that a farmer named John Campbell age 30, died in June of typhoid fever. Also listed is an entry under “slave” age 42 who died of drowning. in October. In some instances, I actually see the names of slaves listed who have died also and this might be of great help to those doing black genealogy.


The 1850 Manufacturing Schedules shows the name of the corporation, company, or individual producing articles to the annual value of $500.  These records have columns to list the name of the business, manufacturer, or product, capital invested in real and personal estate in the business, raw material used to include fuel, kind of motive power, machinery, structure, or resource, average number of hands employed, male or female, wages, average monthly cost of male and female labor, and annual product.


Social Statistics showed the value of estates real and personal, annual taxes, colleges, academies, and schools, libraries, newspapers and periodicals, religion, pauperism, crime, and wages. One should remember that in Iredell County’s case there is often not anything listed in some of these categories as Statesville as a town did not really begin to grow until after the railroad was reestablished following the Civil War and of course Mooresville was not incorporated until 1873.


Speaking of being poor, in Iredell County these records show that the average day laborer with board received $6.25 per month. A farm-hand with board received $8.00 per month while a day laborer without board got $10.00 per month. A day’s wages for a carpenter without board averaged $1.25. Weekly wages to a female domestic worker with board was $.75 cents.  The price of board for a laboring man per week was $1.25.



Joel Reese, Local History Librarian

Iredell County Public Library

This article appeared in the Statesville Record and Landmark as “Library census records are useful for researching” on Jan. 23, 2008