Florida County records differ widely from county to county in either quality not to mention quantity. Some happen to have been carefully preserved while others have been substantially abused and uncared for. Many Florida records have merely vanished. For genealogists performing research in Florida there’s no valuable replace for an on-site research of county courthouse records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia
The office of the clerk of the courts in each county typically holds the marriage records for that county. County health departments typically hold original death and birth certificates. The LDS church has put many of the court records on microfilm and made them available at the FHL. Researchers can order copies, as needed. Most counties have also published “official records” online. Although none have published records for dates later than January 1, 1990. Those records consist of Deeds, Marriage Certificates, Judgments, Liens, Probate Documents. Indexes to documents from earlier dates are available for some county records. Copies of records can be purchased online.
Among the records useful to the genealogist and usually held by the county courthouses are original marriage and divorce records. Probate court records include wills, administrations, bonds, inventories and appraisements, and guardianships. Land grants, homesteads, deeds, mortgages, and similar or related records are found in earlier individual books, but for a number of years in most jurisdictions such records have been combined into “Official Record” books. Recorded plat books, civil and criminal court dockets (case schedules) minutes, order books, naturalizations, incorporations, incompetencies, soldier and sailor discharge records, Confederate oaths of allegiance, delayed birth certificates, and marks and brands are all generally useful as well.
See also a list of links to county and county seat government run websites.
Interactive Map of Florida Counties Formation
Florida Extinct Counties
Florida seems to have counties that no longer are in existence. They were organized by the state, provincial, or territorial government. Many of these counties were created and disbanded during the Nineteenth century; county borders have modified very little since 1900 in the great most of states. These counties should be considered when doing genealogy and family tree research. Pay close attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was eliminated or merged with a different county.
- Benton County: Renamed from Hernando Co on 6 Mar 1844 and renamed Hernando Co on 24 Dec 1850; Benton County maps from Exploring Florida website (47 Maps)
- Dade County: County renamed to Miami-Dade Co on 13 Nov 1997
- Fayette County: Formed in 1832, Abolished in 1834, Territory annexed to Jackson County
- Mosquito County: Mosquito County as formed in 1824 and renamed Orange County in 1845
- New River County: Formed in 1858, Renamed Bradford County in 1861
- St. Lucie County: Formed in 1844, Renamed Brevard County in 1855
Florida Counties with Burned CourthousesThe destruction to Florida courthouses tremendously has a impact on family historians in almost every way. Not only are these historic structures ripped from all of our lifetimes, so are the documents they stored: marriage, wills, probate, land records, as well as others. Once destroyed they’re gone forever. Despite the fact that they happen to have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn as well. The most tragic aspect of this is the reason that nearly all of our courthouses are destroyed as a result of arsonist. Although, not all records were lost. A number of Florida counties have endured a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.
- Baker County Courthouse, constructed in 1888, was lost to fire.
- Bradford County Courthouse was burned in 1865, reportedly to destroy a murder indictment along with all other county records. A second courthouse burned in 1875,
- Brevard County Courthouse had a Record Loss, unknown causes
- Calhoun County Courthouse had a Record Loss, unknown causes
- Clay County Courthouse – Court was held in McRae House which burned in 1872 and with it most of the county’s judicial records.
- Columbia County Courthouse – Numerous prior courthouses, most if not all constructed from logs, fell victim to arsonists in 1848, 1860, 1867, and 1874. Most early records were destroyed.
- Dade County Courthouse – Record Loss (Court)
- Duval County Courthouse was burned during the Civil War, burned in 1901. Extent of reocrd loss unknown.
- Franklin County Courthouse destroyed by fire in 1887
- Gadsden County Courthouse burned in 1849, supposedly an act of arson by a Forbes family slave.
- Hamilton County Courthouse may have been destroyed by a tornado prior to 1836. Courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1929 and rebuilt in 1932.
- Hernando County Courthouse destroyed by fire in 1877
- Hillsborough County Courthouse, a small log cabin, was burned by Indians during the Second Seminole War
- Holmes County Courthouse at Cerro Gordo also burned at least once in the 1870’s. Westville Courthouse burned in 1902, and most early county records perished with it.
- Jackson County Courthouse was destroyed by fire on November 30, 1848. All records were destroyed
- Lafayette County Courthouse caught fire on New Year’s Eve, 1892, apparently the result of a drunken prank.
- Madison County Courthouse burned in 1876 and was replaced by one built in 1880 of brick. This building burned as well, in 1912, and was replaced in 1913 by the present courthouse
- Orange County Courthouse, a two-story hewn-log affair, was burned in 1868. Most of the books and records were destroyed.
- Santa Rosa County Courthouse – Record Loss (Marriage & Probate)
- Wakulla County Courthouse – Record Loss (Marriage & Probate)
- Walton County Courthouse – Record Loss (Marriage & Probate)
- Washington County Courthouse – Record Loss