If there are any records older than two hundred years available, you can bet they are tax records. Tax records, and land records, are some of the oldest records that genealogists can find in the United States.
That is true for Elk Lick Township in Bedford county, Pennsylvania, now in Somerset county. I was fortunate to find Elk Lick Township tax records for the years 1788, 1789, 1791, 1792, and 1793 at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Now these tax records are available online at Family Search.Pennsylvania. Bedford county. "1791 Elk Lick Township." Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center, Fort Wayne, Indiana n.p.. Call number 974.081B39TAE
I have many ancestors that bought land and paid taxes in Elk Lick Township. Surnames include Beachy, Hershberger, Livingood, Maust, Forney, Schrock, and Seese.
What good is it to know how much one paid in taxes? It may not be as important to know the tax paid as it is to know where your ancestor owned land and when. We follow our ancestors through the census every ten years, but if we can't find them in the census or it is 1890 then you can use tax lists to know their whereabouts in between the census years. In this case, before the every name census year(1850).
Was the county your ancestor owned land in a burned county? Some states required tax records sent to the state level. The example above shows the payment for state and county taxes. Other burned counties would ask tax payers to show proof of the tax paid. The govenment wants to make sure they got, or get, their money. No one wants to pay taxes twice. Hopefully, your ancestors saved their receipts.
What is the earliest tax record and where that you found for an ancestor?