Thursday, October 21, 2010

Free Land in Florida

I wrote this blog entry for the Price and Associates blog but I also wanted to share it here because it pertains to Southern States research.

Recently while exploring the roots of a Spaniard who came to the southern United States in the early 1800s I came across a way for settlers to get land that I was unfamiliar with. The “Armed Occupation Act” established in 1842 by the United States Congress. Its main purpose was to help get parts of Eastern Florida settled. It was like a homestead grant in that you had to prove that you were a resident of the state of Florida for at least five years. The settler was required to clear and cultivate at least five acres of the land in the first year and build a house to live in. The owner and his heirs were then required to live there for at least five years. The area to be settled was “south of the line dividing townships numbers nine and ten south, and east of the base line.” All who applied could get a quarter section of land, or 160 acres.

As with a homestead grant you had to provide documents proving that you had met the requirements. These affidavits and letters are kept at the National Archives in Record Group 49. As of this writing I am eagerly awaiting copies of these documents in order to learn more about the Spaniard I mentioned previously.

Copies of the permits are filmed and can be found both at the Florida State Archives and at the Family History Library in Salt Lake. The records are called Armed Occupation Act Settlers Records. If you have ancestors who may have lived in Florida you may want to consider checking them out.

Source - A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875
Statutes at Large, 27th Congress, 2nd Session

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