Florida Land and Property

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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. The Family History Library has microfilm copies of some of the archive's files, including:

Spanish Land Grant Archives, 1764-1844. (Family History Library microfilms 1020288-95.) 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; Family History Library book 975.9 R2hs; Family History Library microfilms 897334-35 or 1020203-4).

Land Claims, 1824-1828, confirmed and unconfirmed. (Family History Library microfilms 1020205-17 and 1020284-87.)

A helpful publication is Phillip W. McMullin, Grassroots of America (Salt Lake City, Utah: Gendex Corporation, 1972; Family History Library book 973 R2ag index; Family History Library microfiche 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
Phone: 703-440-1600

The Bureau of Land Management has an online index to land patents in Florida at [1] 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 at [2] The original survey creates land boundaries and marks them for the first time.

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).