Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Florida Territory Research and the Missouri Records

Florida Territory vs. Louisiana Purchase
Recently I showed the above map marked Florida Territory to show the complexity of where to go to unearth our Missouri  ancestors' documents.  A question from the floor was a common one, “Why does that map say Florida Territory?”  I didn’t quite grasp the meaning of the question and time was limited, but I explained that this was just a historical map to outline the complexity of Missouri when doing early genealogical research.  Later it was brought to my attention that most have forgotten the Florida territory and inadvertently lump it in with the Louisiana Purchase. Ah…this can be confusing and can inhibit the researcher from locating early ancestral documents.

From the Beginning
Missouri was the 24th state:10 Aug 1821.  Florida was the 27th state:3 Mar 1845. The Louisiana Purchase was in 1803, forty-two years before Florida became a state.  So Florida was NOT part of the Louisiana purchase. The Florida territory was ceded to the USA in 1819 by the Spanish even though colonization began in 1565 on the Florida peninsula – St Augustine.  Five million dollars of claims against Spain were assumed by the U. S. thanks to Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and the Florida Purchase Treaty.  U. S. occupation began in 1821 and Florida became a U. S. territory in 1822.  Boundary disputes were relentless, but in 1845, Florida was admitted in the Union as a slave state.

Perhaps the confusion is that the Missouri Territory was known as the Louisiana Territory until 1812. The U.S. surrendered a great portion of the Missouri Territory to Spain in exchange for Spanish Florida. Or perhaps the confusion is due to the fact that The Floridas included West Florida and extended to the Mississippi and included New Orleans. The Louisiana Territory was to the west. Both were owned by Spain. Yes, it is all confusing.

Louisiana Purchase
From the Louisiana Purchase fifteen states were created: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming.

Where are the Records?
To research the Florida Territory, turn to Spanish Land Grants. Spanish Land Grants can be located on the State Library and Archives of Florida, the Florida Memory webpage and at the Library of Congress, World Digital Library. These grants were “land claims filed by Florida settlers from the 1821 transfer of the Florida territory to the U.S.  These grants cover 1783 to 1845, from the “Second” Spanish Period to the Territorial Period. Here, the researchers can find deeds, wills, correspondence, and more. 

1-2-3 What to Expect?
  1. Genealogical Information 
    Family names and ages, place of residents and more can be found in the Spanish Land Claims

  2. Land PlatThese documents help us unscramble family units and follow deeds and probates to connect family kinship.
  3. Land Claims - Some of these land claims are already translated.  Be sure to check the World Digital Library at the Library of Congress.  The claims read like a book.  They provide history of not only the land, but the families, migration information, and often provide place of origin. 
    Land Claim Gaudry
Other Resources
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) houses the following resources that may not yet be digitized:
·       Territorial Papers of the United States Senate, 1789–1873: Florida, 1806–1845
·       State Department Territorial Papers, Florida, 1777–1824: (RG59)
·       Territorial Papers (TP) of the United States: The Territory of Florida, 1821–1845.
·       Textural Records, RG233, House of Representatives Territorial Papers Collection: Colorado, Dakota, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Iowa 1810-1872.  For Florida Territory, NARA Box 84-85 TP Box 278.

Researchers will also find eleven rolls of microfilm (M-116) that cover the State Department (RG59) Territorial Papers, Florida, 1777-1824 held at the National Archives, Atlanta.

So when researching early ancestors of this region, be sure to review the easily accessible Florida Territorial papers.  And know that you may wish to extend your research to the Louisiana Purchase and the Missouri Territory records. 

Be Historically Correct 
Kathleen Brandt
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