By 1864 parts of coastal Florida, Georgia and South Carolina were under Union control. During that time a census was taken in the Jacksonville, Fernandina and St. Augustine areas. Members from several area genealogical societies found and transcribed the census records which was then published by the Florida State Genealogical Society.
From the forward to “Census” Department of the South November, 1864
One of the forgotten legacies of this era was a special census of eastern Florida conducted on the orders of Federal military authorities. Its motivation is to this day unclear, but it seems likely to have been part of the work done to help register voters under Lincoln’s “10%” reconstruction plan. African-Americans living in the region were also enumerated despite the fact that they did not yet have the legal right to vote. The number, age and gender of all “contrabands” would be of great interest to Union military men who were always on the lookout for new recruits for the growing number of United States Colored Troops regiments being formed. Thus, this special census data opens a unique window on Florida’s Civil War population that has heretofore been closed.
You will find a copy of this census at St. Johns County’s Southeast Branch Library. A search for “Census” Department of the South, November 1864 in WorldCat.org will tell you which other libraries have a copy. A print copy can also be purchased at Amazon. Cost is $35.00.
If you have ancestors living in the areas covered by this census, we will be happy to do lookups for you. Use the comment box below this post to make your request.