Tax assessments exist for the region that would become Bedford County as early as the year 1754 when the township of Ayr was formed within Cumberland County. EuroAmericans continued to move into the lands to the west, which had not yet been purchased from the Indian tribes. By 1767, so many EuroAmericans had settled in the region through which the Appalachian Mountains stretched, to the west of the 1754 Purchase line, that it was deemed necessary by the Proprietaries to purchase the additional settled lands from the Indians. Established as part of Cumberland County, these new lands were separated into six townships: Barree, Bedford, Brothers Valley, Colerain, Cumberland Valley and Dublin. In the year 1771, the region encompassed by these six townships and a portion of Ayr was placed under its own jurisdiction with the erection of Bedford County out of Cumberland. In this group of webpages will be found scanned images of the original, i.e. authentic, tax assessment returns for the townships that came under the jurisdiction of Bedford County.
Please note that the western extent of the EuroAmerican settlements did not end within the western boundaries of present day Somerset and Cambria Counties. As more and more settlers moved beyond the Appalachian Mountain Range, the need for additional township jurisdictions became apparent. Between 1771 and 1773 the new county of Bedford encompassed the region which would, in the year 1773, be erected as Westmoreland County out of Bedford. For a period of two years that additional region would be divided into the townships of Armstrong, Fairfield, Hempfield, Mount Pleasant, Pitt, Rosstraver, Springhill, Tullileaugue, and Tyrone. The published Pennsylvania Archives includes returns for the tax assessments of those townships for the year 1773 within Bedford County ~ although it is a bit deceiving, because during that very same year, they would be split off to form the new county of Westmoreland.
It should be noted that despite the fact that Bedford County was erected in 1771, the earliest year for which a tax assessment return exists in that county, that could be scanned and reproduced as an image, is 1772.
Returns for each and every year do not exist. During certain years, when the Indian incursions into the EuroAmerican settlements were taking place, the tax assessments were simply not taken; the danger was too great for the tax collector.
In 1897, the returns of tax assessments from Bedford, Huntingdon, Westmoreland, Fayette, Allegheny and Washington Counties maintained in the archives of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were published in Volume XXII of the Third Series of the Pennsylvania Archives. Beginning in the 1830s, a concerted effort was made to publish transcripts of the various documents which had been gathered together pertaining to the history of the Commonwealth. Those documents, comprising the archives of Pennsylvania, included tax assessment returns from Bedford County. It often surprises people to discover that there might exist more than one copy of any particular township's tax assessment return for any particular year. But the fact of the matter is that there might exist two or three copies. One copy would have been written out before the tax collector went out to physically collect the taxes. That copy might have the names arranged in an order according to the layout of the roads and the homesteads situated along those roads. Another copy would then be made when the tax collector had completed his rounds; such copy being a corrected version without names being crossed out, and with any new-found residents having been added. In most cases, the second copy would have the names arranged in better alphabetical order. A third copy might then be written out, being a simple copy of the second version, and the one which would be used the following year by the tax assessor to create that next year's return. Because multiple copies of each year's return were made and stored at the Bedford County Court House, it was possible for copies of each return to be submitted to the archives, while leaving copies at Bedford. A look at the published Pennsylvania Archives reveals that the 1772 return was apparently missed, and transcripts of the Bedford County returns start with the year of 1773.
It is also very important to note that over the years, certain tax assessment returns might have been removed from the storage vault in the basement of the Bedford County Court House, whether intentional or not, and never returned. The returns included in these webpages are the only ones which were in existence in the Bedford County Court House in the 1980s when I was granted permission to photocopy them.
Click on the icons below to access scanned images of the original tax assessment returns and additional information on the tax assessments.
Tax Assessments Of The 1700s
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Maps Revealing The Formation
Of The Townships
Bedford County Tax For The Year 1772
Bedford County Tax For The Year 1773
Bedford County Tax For The Year 1774
Bedford County Tax For The Year 1775
Bedford County Tax For The Year 1776
No Returns Are Available
For The Year 1777
Bedford County Tax For The Year 1778
Bedford County Tax For The Year 1779
In Progress: Bedford County Tax
For The Years 1780, 1781, 1782 & 1783