LinkConnector Validation

A Genealogist In The Archives: May 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Genealogy Has Gone To The Dogs!

As genealogist we are always looking for the next set of records that we can hopefully find information about our ancestors. One of the places we search are in archives because they have records that are not found online and are usually unique.

One such set of records that I would like to share with you is a "Dog Registration" book. This dog registration book dates from 1901-1919 and is located in the Houston County, Tennessee Archives.

Dog Registration Book 1901-1919 Spine, Houston County, Tennessee Archives

In Tennessee, about 1875, there was legislation passed that said counties were to collect a "dog tax". This dog tax was to be collected from anyone that owned a dog that was 6-months old or older. The dog tax was usually collected by the County Court Clerk.

Dog Tax Receipt for L.C. Powers and his dog Guard, May 16, 1901

As you can see by the recordings in the book the information given when the person paid his dog tax was:

Dog Owned by
Owner's Address
Dogs Name
Description of the Dog
Date the Tax was Paid
Signature of the Official Accepting the Tax

I love some of the names of the dogs, believe it or not there were a lot of people who named their dog "Fido".

The best part about this record source is the dog owner's name which could be one of your ancestors!

Dog Tax Receipt for A. L. Hayes and his dog Spot, May 16, 1901

Now, once the dog tax was collected it went into what was called the "Sheep Fund". When someone in the county had a sheep what was killed by a dog, they could request funds from the Sheep Fund to replace that sheep. At the end of the year, if there was money left over in the Sheep Fund, it would go to the schools to help with expenses.

The Dog Registration book is a great asset to any genealogists. To my knowledge, none of these have been digitized and put online. I hope one day to get the Houston County Archives Dog Registration book digitized so it can be shared.

I am also uncertain if the Dog Registration or Tax took place in other states, I know it took place in Tennessee.

Dog Tax Receipt for Dr. J.H. Stokes and his dog Jack, May 16, 1901

So, when you visit or contact archives, libraries, historical societies, genealogical societies and University repositories, ask them about unique collections of records that they have, like a Dog Registration Book!

Remember: It's Not All Online! Contact or Visit An Archives Today!!