Here is an over-simplification of the way the tax digest for a county was made. The Georgia Legislature established the rules and made the county tax collector responsible for enforcement. The holder of taxable property was required to make returns on a set schedule listing the property in some detail. The tax collector then verified that all taxable property had been reported, and if it was not the person responsible would suffer very heavy penalties.
If a person lived in one county and owned property in another, he was required to include it on the returns for the county of residence. Once the returns were in, the digest was made and the taxable amount set. Then a tax bill was sent to the property owner that included a very detailed amount, including the amount for polls. If a person did not pay the taxes then he would be in default and could expect a visit from the sheriff. Names of defaulters are included at the end of the digest.
All white males 21 - 60 (that varied over time) were required to pay the poll tax. Exemptions due to age are generally noted on the digest. John should show up on the digest if he owned taxable property or he was a defaulter. Regardless of how he came by the property there is always the possibility of the buyer failing to record the event. One thing you must watch for is timing. It could be recorded years after the purchase. No big deal if it happened. The transaction would still show under the buyers name on the grantee index and the index shows the deed book number/letter and page.
The big problem with using these old digests is
readability. Many are virtually impossible to read.
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