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Colonial Land Grants
Florida was a disputed possession of England, France, and Spain in turn until it finally became a possession of the United States in 1821. A board of land commissioners for West Florida was established in 1822 and for East Florida in 1823 to process claims to lands previously granted by other nations. These documents, as well as land ancestries and homestead records, are at the Florida State Archives.
Spanish Land Grant Archives, 1764-1844. The State Archives of Florida have placed copies of The Spanish Land Grants online. (Also on FHL films1020288-95.) These are written in Spanish and English. Some are indexed.
Many of these are transcribed in Spanish Land Grants in Florida: Briefed Translations from the Archives of the Board of Commissioners, Five Volumes. (Tallahassee, Florida: Historical Records Survey, 1940-1941); FHL book 975.9 R2hs; FHL films 897334-35 or FHL films1020203-4).
A helpful publication is Phillip W. McMullin, Grassroots of America (Salt Lake City, Utah: Gendex Corporation, 1972); FHL book 973 R2ag index; FHL fiche 6051323. This publication indexes claims to U.S. land which are transcribed in the American State Papers (on microfilm at the Family History Library).
Federal Land Grants
Florida eventually became a public domain state. The first general land office was established at Tallahassee in 1825. Original patents and copies of tract books and township plats are located at the:
Bureau of Land Management - Eastern States
7450 Boston Boulevard
Springfield, Virginia 22153-3121
The Bureau of Land Management has an online index to land patents in Florida. The patent search usually provides a digital image of the original patent.
The National Archives has donation and land entry case files and an index to pre-1908 patentees who did not file private claims.
The Bureau of Land Management has digital images of the original survey plats for Florida. The original survey created land boundaries and marked them for the first time.
The West Florida Index Reconstructed Tract Books, by Duke Vickrey, is searchable by name or by county. It gives name, county, township, range, and section. The index covers all Florida counties west of the Tallahassee Meridian including parts of Leon and Wakulla counties.
County Land Records
After land was transferred to private ownership, subsequent transactions were recorded by the clerk of the circuit court, who was the county recorder. In some counties land records were recorded by a county court or a county judge.
The Family History Library has land records from many Florida counties. These include deeds, homesteads, mortgages, plat books, order books, and tract books. For example, the Family History Library has 51 microfilms of Orange County deeds (1843-90), and deed indexes (early-1937).
Florida Research Outline. Salt Lake City, Utah: Intellectual Reserve Inc., Family History Department, 1998, 2001. NOTE: All of the information from the original research outline has been imported into this Wiki site and is being updated as time permits.