Please Note: During the year 1779, the number of Indian incursions into the region that had been created as Bedford County increased. Certain of the tax assessment returns bear the notations "absant" or "not in county" after the names of many residents, implying that those residents had fled eastward to escape the Indians ~ at least at the time of the collecting of the taxes. Despite that fact, most of the tax assessment returns for the county's townships are in existence.
Describing the situation in Bedford County is the following letter from the Board for Bedford County to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, dated 16 February, 1779.
To the Honourable the Representatives of the Freemen of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in General Assembly met:
The Petition of the Board of commissioners, Assessors & Assistant Assessors of Bedford county, Humbly Sheweth:
That the Petitioners have met in order to Lay the Taxes directed by Law to be paid by this county, but the situation of the greatest part of the county is such that Humanity forbids them to levy the same, and induces them to apply to the Honourable House for relief, and to represent That for eighteen months past the frontier Inhabitants have almost entirely been deprived of the fruits of their labour by the incursions of the Indians. Many of them are gone entirely out of the County, and when that part of the Petitioners whose duty it is to take the Returns of Property, went to the once chearful abodes of Humble Industry & content, the Inhabitant had fled to preserve his life, and nothing presented to their view but forlorn inhabitations and untilled fields, (in several of which the grave of the former owner, murdered by the Indians, was to be seen); and to levy Taxes off those would be adding distress to the afflicted and taking from the Poor that which he has not to give. That part of the Inhabitants who remained collected into forts - some formed into companies and Ranged along the Frontiers in order to afford some small Protection to the rest, who, at the hazzard of their lives, ventured out to save their scanty harvest and to prepare another; but they were so often driven in that it was little they could do. The Panic occasioned by one incursion was scarcely over till they were alarmed afresh by another. Many were deprived of sowing & planting, & not a few were prevented from reaping that which they had put in; In consequence of which, Famine stares us in the face. There is not Bread enough amongst us to sustain the Inhabitants till Harvest, & were it to be had for Money, which it is not, many of the Poorer sort have not wherewithal to purchase it. The great Plenty of money that is circulating in other parts of the Country is to them no relief, because their Savage Foe has prevented them from having anything to sell to acquire Money; and many of them have undergone such a variety of hardship & distress, and suffered such loss that they are realy objects of compassion, & if the Times would permit their situation would strongly Plead for Public assistance, to save the helpless families of those who have perished by the sword, and those who have been deprived of Providing Bread for their Families, from suffering by Famine. The few who have been permitted to remain at their Habitations, and reap the fruits of their industry, will chearfully pay their part of the Taxes, according to their circumstances; but should the whole Quota laid on this County be levied off them, it is so large and their numbers so few that they would be reduced to beggary by it. We, therefore, intreat the interposition of the Honourable House, and that they would grant such an exemption in the Premisses as to their Wisdom shall seem meet, & the Petitioners as in duty bound shall Pray, &c.
James Martin, Sam'I Davidson, commissioners. Allen Rose, David Jones, Gideon Ritchey, John Canan, Wm. Goff, County Assessors. Henry Abram, Hugh Robinson, James Little, Absalom Gray, Tho's Crossan, Robert Moore, Township Assessors.
During certain years there might be more than one copy of the return for the tax assessment. The returns were sometimes written out prior to the tax collector making his rounds, copying the previous year's return (assuming that the families that were there the previous year, would still be there this year). Then, when the tax collector made his rounds, he would add names in for the settlers who had moved into the region since the previous year, or cross out the names for residents who had left the region. If more than one return is in existence, the return from which the Pennsylvania Archives were transcribed will be included on the primary pages of the township, with the additional returns shown on an auxiliary page.