Industry Schedules: A Hidden Source for Your Farming Ancestors

Industry Schedules: A Hidden Source for Your Farming AncestorsThere is a special part of the federal census called the industry schedule. “Farming” probably isn’t the first word that comes to mind when you hear “industry,” but the industry schedules can have information about our farming ancestors.

What Are the Industry Schedules

The Federal census is made up of several different schedules. The one we use most often in genealogy is the population schedule. It’s the one that lists the people, their ages, birthplaces, etc.

The industry schedule — also called the manufacturing schedule — was a separate schedule taken in 1820, and 1850 through 1880. It includes information about the type of product that was made, the raw materials used, the type of power that was implemented, and even the gender and wages of the employees.

On this 1860 industry schedule from Macoupin County, Illinois, we see Jefferson Croch had a saw and grist mill produced $1125 worth of lumber and $1950 of corn meal. William Loomis also had a saw and grist mill and produced $600 of lumber and $1500 in corn meal. We can also see details about the types of power and the employees.

Industry Schedules: A Hidden Source for Farming Ancestors

1860 Industry Schedule, Macoupin County, Illinois. Image from (Click to enlarge.)

Why You Need to Look for Your Farmers

The threshold to be listed on the industry schedule was fairly low: $500 worth of materials. Many farmer then, like today, had sideline businesses, such as mills and tanneries. If they produced more than $500, they were to be listed on the industry schedule.

Let’s take a look at who was listed on this industry schedule:

  • Jefferson Croch
  • Paschal Reader
  • William B. Loomis
  • William Emerson

On the 1860 federal census (the population schedule), here is how they are listed, along with their occupations:

  • Jefferson Croch, sawyer and grist mill
  • Paschal Reader, farmer
  • William B. Loomis, farmer
  • William Emerson, waggon [sic] maker

Although Reader and Loomis listed their occupations in the census as farmers, they made enough in their other businesses that they had to be included on the industry schedule. This gives us a chance to learn a little bit more about them and how they earned their living. Your ancestors could be in the same situation — farming was their “official” occupation, but they had a side business that would require them to be listed on the industry schedules.

(By the way, because they were farmers, we should also look for them on the agriculture schedules. Check out my post “Did Great-Grandpa Grow Hemp?” to learn more about those records.)

Finding These Schedules

Some of the industry schedules are available on FamilySearch. (Illinois and Iowa are online; look for “non-population.” Check the catalog for what is available on microfilm.) Some are online on Ancestry in their “Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-population Schedules, 1850-1880” collection. You can also find some of these schedules on microfilm at larger libraries and state archives.

Did Great-Grandpa Grow Hemp?

Oh, the things we can find out about our ancestors. Think your ancestor was just growing corn, wheat, and cotton? He might have been growing hemp, too. We can find out using something called the Agricultural Schedule.

What Is the Agricultural Schedule?

In certain U.S. federal censuses, there were additional schedules created in addition to the ones that list the person’s name, age, birthplace, etc. (the population schedules). In 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880, there was also an Agricultural Schedule taken. (The states that had an 1885 special federal census had a agricultural schedule, too.)

Unlike the Population Schedule, which gives us lots of biographical detail, the Agricultural Schedules focus on the farm. How many acres was it? How much was it worth? What did they raise? It’s a fascinating glimpse into the lives of our farmer ancestors (of which I have a wagonload).

About That Hemp

The Agricultural Schedules didn’t ask just about corn, wheat, and cotton. It asked about all sorts of different crops, including hemp:

  • In 1850, it separated “dew rotted” and “water rotted” into different categories
  • In 1860, it differentiated between “dew rotted,” “water rotted,” and “other prepared” hemp
  • In 1870, all hemp was listed together
  • In 1880, all hemp was listed together and the number of acres devoted to it was also listed

Michael Weaver, Hemp Grower

Michael Weaver lived in Washington Township, Licking County, Ohio in 1850. The 1850 census (the Population Schedule) lists him as a farmer. What that schedule doesn’t tell us is that he was the largest hemp grower in Licking County.

When we look at the Agricultural Schedule for 1850, we find out that Michael had livestock; he grew wheat, corn, and oats; he produced wool and butter; and he had 40 tons of dew rotted hemp.

Michael Weaver (line 9), 1850 Agricultural Schedule, Washington Township, Licking County, Ohio. Image from

Michael Weaver (line 9), 1850 Agricultural Schedule, Washington Township, Licking County, Ohio. Image from (Click to enlarge.)

The Implications of This

This could possibly get some family members more interested in their family history. Imagine the look on some faces when you casually drop in conversation that great-grandpa grew tons of hemp…

For full effect, let that statement sink in before you go on to explain that hemp was used for making ropes and paper and that great-grandpa probably wasn’t a stoner.

Finding and Using Agricultural Schedules

Some of the Agricultural Schedules have been digitized and put online. Some are on Ancestry in their collection “Selected U.S. Federal Census Non-Population Schedules, 1850-1880.” Be sure to read the collection’s description to get the list of states included! Also, use the browse feature on the right-hand side to see if the Agriculture Schedule for that state is included. (For example, the only non-population schedules in this collection for Pennsylvania are the Social Statistics Schedules.) These are indexed.

FamilySearch has digitized images for Illinois and Iowa. Both of these are currently un-indexed. However, people are listed in the same order they are in the population schedules. My suggestion is to find your person first in the “regular” census, then it’s a matter of browsing that same township in the Agricultural Schedule.

If the state you’re interested in isn’t online yet, don’t despair. Many of these schedules are on microfilm. Check with the state historical society, state, archive, and state library to see if they have a copy. If you happen to be planning a trip to the Allen County Public Library, they have many of them on microfilm. (Take a look at their Microtext Catalog under the “Census Records” and then select “Agriculture” as the type.)

The 1850 through 1870 schedules span two pages. Be sure to look at the second page! 

I haven’t found any hemp growers in my family (yet), but I marvel at the detail in these schedules. Have you found anything neat in the Agricultural Schedules?