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.

Posted: December 16, 2015.

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