New Evidence #3 – Arriving in Jackson County

We are “guessing” James, John, and Nathan moved to Jackson County, FL about a year before they paid taxes in 1820 – but we don’t know that for a fact.  Are there any other records that might prove when they moved to Florida?

In reviewing this and other early homestead entries, almost all of them claim they moved to Florida around 1820-1821.  That seems a little strange – surly some of them “cheated” and moved into Florida when it was still a Spanish Territory!  Only the following reported something other than 1820 or 1821 as the date they settled:

Jackson County Settlers Before 18201

Name

Number of
Cultivated Acres

Date of
Settlement

John Ward

not given

not given

William Blunt

4 or ---

not given

John Hopson

not given

not given

Nathan Ward

5 or 6

not given

Allis Wood

not given

not given

William Piles

4 or ---

not given

William McDonald

3 or 4

not given

Adam Kimbrough

not given

not given

Heirs of John Givin

6 or 7

1819

John Jones

18 or ---

not given

George Sharp

8 or 10

not given

John Gruerra

2 or ---

1819

David Durgan

1 or --

not given

Heirs of Sam Story

not given

not given


An article by Sidney Walter Martin sums up the problem nicely:

“When Spain delivered Florida to the United States in 1821, one of the most perplexing problems which faced the federal government was the settlement of the land question in the newly acquired territory. Large areas of land in Florida had been granted to individual Spanish subjects by their King before the transfer of the territory to the United States; therefore those claimants who held legal title to their lands, granted before January 24, 1818, were allowed to hold possession of their property.  Luis de Onis, who represented the Spanish government in the negotiating of the treaty of cession, contended that all grants made by the Spanish King up to the writing of the treaty should be valid, while John Quincy Adams, the American Secretary of State, contended that no grants made after 1802 should be held valid.  After much discussion the compromise date of January 24, 1818, was agreed upon by the two negotiators.

“A person claiming lands granted before the above mentioned date [1/24/1818] was required to file his claim with a specially appointed board of commissioners either in St. Augustine or Pensacola.  The Pensacola board was organized and ready for work by July 13, 1822, but the St. Augustine commission did not begin to operate until April 1823. …

“Congress had hoped that the work of the commissioners finished within two or three years, so that the private lands could be distinguished from the public lands and sale of the latter might begin. But it was not until 1827 that the work was virtually completed the two boards were abolished. The abolition of the boards mean, however, that no more claims would be received. Certain land receivers of the public land offices in St. Augustine and Tallahassee were authorized to receive claims and make necessary settlements.”2

And there you have it – anyone who claimed to be living in Florida PRIOR TO JANUARY 24, 1818 had to have a Spanish Land Grant in order to keep their land.  Anyone who was “squatting” on the land prior to that date would have to claim they took up residence after that date in order to qualify for the Donation Act.

Based on this information, it is doubtful we will find any government records providing a better estimate of when John, James, Nathan Ward and others actually became residents in Florida.



FOOTNOTES

1 Randall J. Stanley, History of Jackson County  (Marianna, Florida: Jackson County Historical Society, 1950),  16-17.

2 Sidney Walther Martin, "The Public Domain in Territorial Florida," Journal of Southern History 10 (May 1944); digital images, ITHAKA, JSTOR (http://jstor.org : accessed Jan 8, 2020) 174-175.