Those interested in Bertie County genealogy probably already know about this, but it was new to me:
From 1850 to 1900 the US Census included a separate census devoted to a summary of agricultural and mechanical producers. If your ancestor owned a farm they may well be listed in these censuses, which for some reason do not seem to be indexed on ancestry.com or elsewhere. There is some information here: http://www.census.gov/history/pdf/agcensusschedules.pdf
I found them on microfilm at the Joyner Library at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC.
These censuses contain information like: number of acres owned (improved & unimproved), livestock owned (broken down by type), crops produced (broken down by type), and so forth. They give a picture of life then and allow you to compare your ancestor's activities with those nearby.
How can we get ancestry.com or familysearch.org to index these?