The U.S. Census began in 1790 and has been done every ten years since this beginning. The "Name of head of family"; the "number of free white males of 16 years and up, including heads"; "free white males under 16"; "free white females, including heads"; "all other free persons"; and the "number of slaves" were all listed.
There was a booklet published by the U.S. Government Printing Office in 1909 that lists all the surnames and their variations which were represented by at least 100 white persons in the U.S. in 1790. Listed are approximately 5700 surnames plus variations of the spellings, average size of each family, total number of heads of families, total number of all other members, and a breakdown of the number of families per state. My research notes show that a copy of this booklet was available from "The Researcher's Bookshelf, Division of Heritage Quest, Orting, WA. [I do not know if this reference is still available, but would make a valuable research tool.]
A listing for the surname JONES is as follows:
Total of "Heads of Family" = 2,561
Average size of family = 5.6
All other members = 11,739
Heads of families for each state:
North Carolina = 558
Virginia = 345
Pennsylvania = 289
Massachusetts = 287
Maryland = 239
New York = 210
South Carolina = 190
Connecticut = 173
New Hampshire = 104
Maine = 87
Vermont = 59
Rhode Island = 20
So there you have it. The JONES surname in the 1790 U.S. Census! North Carolina and Virginia seemed to collect the most. [35%] Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York had roughly the same. Poor Rhode Island missed out. At any rate, if you carried the JONES surname, you had a good chance of being from North Carolina or Virginia in the 1790 census.
This research was first published in The Jones Genealogist, Vol. XVIII, No. 2, July/August, 2006.