1790 Census -- First Census of the United States

NOTE: No individual enumeration; head only

State: North Carolina

The 1790 census, the first ever in the new country of America, instructed the marshals to identify, by age brackets, free white males sixteen years of age or older and those under sixteen. It was designed to determine the country’s industrial and military capabilities. Additionally, the first census was to count the number of free white females; all other free persons regardless of race or gender; and slaves. A twenty-dollar fine*, to be split between the marshals’ assistants and the government, would be levied against anyone who refused to answer the enumerator’s questions.

actual 1790 NC census form - click on image for full page
North Carolina-Surry County: Mary, about 10 years old, is enumerated in her father Samuel Passwaters’* home in the next county north of Rowan, also in the Western part of NC. There are 1 adult male, three boys under 16 (including Zael, age 12), and four women (including Mary). It would appear that Mary might have 3 brothers and 2 sisters, but no records for any other Passwaters have been found; these entries could also be other relatives or even non-relatives. This is the only Passwater family on the 1790 census (the Delaware enumeration was lost).

It is known that the Samuel Passwater family has been living in NC for at least 10 years; the children of both of Samuel's children (Mary and Zael) all listed on their 1880 census that their Passwater parent was born in NC. Mary and Zael are known to have been born circa 1780. Samuel's father is unknown, but thought to be the William Passwater who married Hannah Pezaza in Charleston, SC in 1740, and perhaps also the same William Passwater of Virginia mentioned in George Washington's letters of 1755 and 1756 -- these are the only records found outside of Delaware for Passwaters. There is no record of the Passwaters being in Orange, NC circa 1780, as has been found listed by other genealogist; it is thought this notation may have been confused with Zael Passwater's wife's birthplace.

actual 1790 NC census form - click on image for full page
North Carolina-Rowan County: Andrew is about 15, probably the oldest boy in Jonathan (“John”) Madden’s family which was comprised of 1 adult male, 4 boys under 16, and three women. This suggests that Andrew has 3 younger brothers, and perhaps two sisters as of 1790 (although the women could be aunts or grandmothers too). John bought land along Hunting Creek in 1790 and 1794 and sold some in 1795—it was this sale record that mentioned his wife’s name was Mary.

There was a Rowan County will for (Jonathan’s father) Andrew Maiden: "25 Oct 1772—Wife Ellenor to have 1/3 part and remainder to be equally divided among the children: Hannah, John, Andrew, Larons and James Maden." No records have been found for daughter Hannah or son Andrew. It is assumed Andrew died young, maybe in the Revolutionary War, Larons married Alander Clarck in Rowan in 1781—perhaps he is living with his inlaws on this census.

North Carolina-Iredell County: James Maddin (a household with one adult male and one female), John’s brother, also bought land along Hunting Creek in 1786, 1787 and 1790 and sold in 1792, 1793 and 1795. The 1792 record states the land is adjacent to John Maden’s land (must be near the county line).

The only other Maiden families in North Carolina on the 1790 census are: Catharine Maden in Caswell, George Madden in Orange, and Danl Maddin in Rutherford. Several documents confirm our Maiden family in Iredell and not Orange in this time period: this census data, the land record entries for both John Maiden and James Maiden mentioned above (they both bought and sold land along Hunting Creek in 1786-1795—the deed book covered 1788-1797), and additionally, Andrew Maden (our Andrew’s grandfather) was listed on a 1768 Rowan tax list. Neither Jonathan nor James nor any of their closest neighbors had slaves, although in the three counties (Rowan, Mecklenburg and Iredell), there were 3288 boys under 16, 3827 men over 16, 6864 women, 97 free non-whites and 1742 slaves.

* In today’s dollars, $20 in 1790 would be worth $400 (CPI-adjusted). In old-fashioned script, “ss” was written similar to a “fs” and can look like a “p”.

For documentation on the census data (collection procedures, errors, availability, etc) refer to documentation.