Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Florida Townships & Ranges

In Florida the legal property description is based on a rectangular grid  (6-miles by 6-miles) of townships and ranges with a meridian (center-point) passing through Tallahassee.  Each township and range is subdivided into 36 square mile subdivisions (1-mile by 1-mile) termed sections.  The sections get further divided into aliquots.

There is a better explanation on a website called Section, Township & Range, at genealogy.about.com/cs/land/a/public_lands.htm.  There is another good explanation on Wikipedia as Public Land Survey System at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Land_Survey_System

I have two "simple" online ways to local these coordinates.  One is to use the Official DOT County Maps of Florida, at www.dot.state.fl.us/surveyingandmapping/countymap.shtm.  You can view and download the maps as pdf-files (the border have T[township] and R[range] with the sections in boxes on the map.)  The other (less simple) involves using Google Earth downloading a kml-file and executing it to apply the township-range-sections to the Google Earth map.  The kml-file is available from Earthpoint at www.earthpoint.us/Townships.aspx.  When you open this webpage, simply click the box labeled: View on Google Earth in the BML Township, Range and Section section.  The kml-file will be downloaded, you don't have to register.  Open your free copy of Google Earth, then find EarthPointTownships.kml in your downloads and double click on the file to temporarily install it on your Google Earth.  It is an intensive program and will slow down Google Earth so turn it off for other projects.

The Thomas Register for Florida, a large book in the Reference Section of your larger public Florida library will contain a township and range map as well.

Okay it isn't real simple, but it ain't rocket science either.  With a handle on the legal description of a piece of land, you will be able to find it on a map and likely on the road in front of it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Land

At the recent Los Floridanos meeting in St. Augustine, someone was asking about how some family member got such large tracks of land.
There are several ways these pieces of land were obtained in Florida.
Land Grants, 

  • The Armed Occupation Act, 
  • Military Land Bounties, and 
  • Buying the land from the Government Land Office
  • Second-hand Railroad land

Are the most common methods in Florida.

Most of the files on the Spanish Land Grants are available through the Florida State Archives.  The physical copies remain in Tallahassee, but the State provides images of these files online at: Florida Memory – Spanish Land Grants, www.floridamemory.com/collections/spanishlandgrants/.  
Prior to the sale of Florida to the U.S. government, the King of Spain gave land grants to many individuals.  After Florida became part of the U.S.A., the U.S. Supreme Court had to decide whether the land grants were valid which created a good paper-trail.  The original land grants were in Spanish, but for the court were translated.  That is why you will find both languages in the documents.  Only some of the West Florida (the Panhandle) land grants are missing.  At the website you will find images of each folder and it's contents that you can print or save as a digital color jpg-file (if you right-click your mouse when the cursor is over the image, you will find a selection of features.)  Since the legal proceedings were lengthy, the title of the land grant may have been passed to heirs or sold for cash.

An online tool for finding the other types of land acquisition from the U.S. government is the Bureau of Land Management’s Government Land Office Records, www.glorecords.blm.gov . Look over the information page, but click the words Search Documents next to the house symbol on the green bar down from the top.  You should be on the Search Page with the defaults of “Search by Document Type” and “Patents” selected.  You will need to select Florida for a location for your initial search leave the county unselected.  Next in the names area type the last or surname (if more than one spelling is possible you will need to repeat the search for each), for the initial search don’t enter first or middle names.  The click Search Patents on the orange-brown line near the bottom of the page.  To see a record, click the leading image or accession number.  If you need to shorten your list, add first names or a current county.  It is an informative database for you to find land records and some history.  DO NOT BUY CERTIFIED COPIES, you can print and download images for free.

The State of Florida maintains a similar looking website that you may find useful called the Land Document Search, .  It is free.

In the 1840s the U.S. government passed the Armed Occupation Act of 1842.  A Florida resident could claim 160 acres of land by settling on land South of Newnansville and Palatka and also away from other regular settlements and outposts, register with the General Land Office (GLO), farm 5 at least of the acres, built a house.  This put the settler on the Indian Frontier and he needed to be prepared for conflict.

Military Land Bounties were granted to the soldiers after wars.  The size of the bounty was sometimes determined by the soldier’s rank.  And sometimes the bounty could be transferred to an heir.  In Florida the veteran could apply for a military warrant that could be applied to acquiring a government owned land.  The veteran had the option of selling the warrant.  Typical military warrants in Florida were for the Seminole Wars and Mexican War.

Buying land from the government is the largest category whether it is homestead land (cheap with strings) or outright (more expensive without as many strings) some land is dry and some still submerged.  And there are second-hand land deals.  The railroads were often given large tracks of land adjoining the railway, these were many times sold (the Florida Land Document Search catches many of these transactions.)

This posting is already too long.  I will write another discussing Townships, Ranges, and Section soon.

Please comment, if I explained poorly or got it wrong.  Or if you have more tips for us.  

The software omits anonymous comments so leave us your link.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Celebrating the Historic Heritage
 of Beatriz de Piedra & Franscisco Xavier Sanchez

Starting Wednesday the Underground Railroad Conference begins in Saint Augustine (http://www.oah.org/programs/nps/2012ugrr/index.html) Wednesday, with reenactments of life at Fort Mose on Saturday and celebrations continuing Sunday. (http://www.floridastateparks.org/fortmose/events.cfm?viewevent=7501#7501)

These matter particularly to Los Floridanos because until the English evacuation of the 1770s, when Spain was forced to trade Florida for Havana, the Spanish colony was populated by more people of color than white skinned residents. And these were the Flordianos who spoke Spanish and populated our homeland.

Beatriz Stone (de Piedra), however, came from Charleston when she arrived at Fort Mose, the first free black settlement in America. Mostly its residents were fleeing slavery in the English Colonies or were Spanish soldiers assigned from Cuba. But Beatriz wasn't ever a slave. She had been born free thanks to her Huguenot father John Stone of Charleston and her mother, Regina, who held slave status. (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~crackerbarrel/1John.html)

Together, Beatriz and Franscisco had a large family during the time of English rule. A wise businesswoman, she ran the trading post while he build a wide agricultural empire. Their oldest son was among the first settlers of Amelia Island.

Come learn more at the Underground Railroad conference, or at least join the free weekend festivities at Fort Mose (http://www.floridastateparks.org/fortmose/) this weekend. Hope to see you there!

Rev. Dee Graham, Bradenton, Florida

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Alexander Boneparte Sanchez Jr's daughter

This is a picture of George Washington Polk and Rella Sanchez. These are my great-grandparents. Rella is the 4th child of Alexander Sanchez Jr. and Julia Sheffield. She was buried in Springhead Cemetary in Polk County, Florida. Rella and George had 9 children and lived in the Plant City area. She looks a lot like her mother Julia Sheffield in the picture. If you look real close you will see that Rella is holding a baby in her arms. I didn't see this at first, but believe from what I have heard from others that this baby is Allie (Polk) Weeks and the little boy is George "Clayton" Polk.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Francisco's First Family -- Beatrice de Piedra & Fort Mose

Some of the most exciting times in the life of young Franscisco may have been as a young adult. Left behind in his native la Florida by his familia, the teenager fended for himself as the English took over his homeland. Amidst this, as he struggled and grew and found his way to material success, he also found a partner for his journey -- young Beatrice Stone. A native of Charleston, the young mixed-race woman was transported to Fort Mose by her uncle so that she could continue to live free as her father intended.

The prominent historian who has written extensively about Jane Landers, Francisco's first love and the mother of half of his children, will present at the upcoming Underground Railroad conference in Saint Augustine this June 20-23.

Underground Railroad Conference

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Alums relish Manatee High Centennial Celebration under the stars - Local - BradentonHerald.com

Alums relish Manatee High Centennial Celebration under the stars - Local - BradentonHerald.com

Florida Pioneer Dies After 103 New Year's Days

          In his final weeks of life, Lamar Graham received a standing ovation as the oldest living graduate of Manatee High School at its Centennial Celebration, cruised the Manatee Civic Center in his wheelchair for the Ham Fest (Amateur Radio Convention) and chatted on his i-Phone in the middle of his 102nd birthday party. Even though he next had to tackle pneumonia, he made it through to see his 103rd Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
            That’s the kind of genetics he inherited as a Floridano, a member of Florida’s founding Sanchez family and a relative of the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon. He learned about his ancestry when he and his late wife Edith began their retirement trek of searching for lost relatives and consequently wrote the book Double Cousins in 1987.
               An active Manatee County volunteer with the Red Cross during hurricanes with the Manatee Amateur Radio Club, at the time of his death Graham could also claim “longest term  member” status at the Kirby Steward American Legion post and Bradenton’s First United Methodist Church , which he joined in 1927.  He completed school at both Ballard Elementary and Manatee High School when the  original buildings were new, and even began grade school here at what is now the Manatee County School Board building on Manatee Avenue.
            He caddied for department store founder Robert Beall Sr. on the old Bradenton Golf Course (site of McKechnie Field) and witnessed Armistice Day (end of WWI) as a celebration erupted near the downtown courthouse.  His first radio was a hand-built crystal one yet he ended his working life sending out transmissions for WEDU-TV, Channel 3, in Riverview.
Lamar Timmerman Graham, age 102, of Bradenton, died Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, in Pinellas Park, Florida at Suncoast Hospice Woodside.
Survivors include his daughter, the Rev. Dee Graham of Bradenton and Saint Petersburg; his grandson Asaph Graham of Seminole; his granddaughters Austin Graham and Charlotte Quandt, and his great grandchildren, Anthony Quandt Judd and Lila Shelby, all of Saint Petersburg. His nieces and nephews include nieces Joanne Graham Dick of Bradenton, Bonnie Graham Ricker of Michigan, Delia Graham Cirino of Van Nuys, CA; Tonia Graham Hemminger, Joe Graham, Marion Graham Luquette and Chuck Graham, all of Ellenton; Richard Graham of Tallahassee, Van Graham of Colorado, Thomas Graham of Saint Augustine, Peggy Jones Russell of North Carolina and Pat Jones Goodwill of Tampa.
Recognized as a member of a “Florida Pioneer Family” by the Florida Genealogical Society and as a descendent of Ponce de Leon of Spain, Graham leaves behind numerous other relatives who he and his wife discovered while researching the story of his ancestors from Spanish Florida.  The unique relationship between the Sanchez and Perez family, as well as the Sheffield’s who married into the family, inspired the title of their 1990 book, Double Cousins.
In addition to being a Floridano, a member of Florida’s first European families, Graham has been a resident of Bradenton, FL, since 1922. He was born in Fitzgerald, GA, on Dec. 8, 1909 to Thomas Sentell and Marion Amorett Sheffield Graham, and outlived all three of his brothers, Joseph, Thomas and Elmer. He spent much of his early childhood on the rice farm of his grandparents, Joseph Sealy and Andelia Sanchez Sheffield, in Wimauma, FL.
As a child he attended Ballard Elementary School on its first day, Biltmore Elementary when it was housed in the historic Davis Building (now rebuilt on its site in Manatee High School.  Later he went to Bradenton High, which, by the time he graduated in 1931, had been renamed Manatee County High School. He played on the baseball team.
In 1935 he married Edith Lucille Jones (class of 1932), who was the daughter of former Bradenton Mayor Asaph R and Edith Maria Day Jones. She predeceased him in 2009.
Prior to WWII, Graham served in the US Navy, where he worked as a civilian for the military and studied radio and telecommunications at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. He returned to Bradenton to take over the Bradenton Credit Bureau, founded by his father.  At the age of 35 he was drafted into WWII, where he served in the Army Air Force as a Staff Sergeant working in flight communications.
After he returned from the war, Graham sought government employment and worked as a postal clerk for the Bradenton Post Office for more than 20 years, retiring at age 65 and returning to his first love, communications. After earning his commercial radio license, he worked for Lampkin Laboratory in Bradenton, and then finished his career working for WEDU-TV, Channel 3.
Still active locally until his death, Graham (W4FKR) belonged to the Manatee Amateur Radio Club, the Manatee County Historical Society, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, First United Methodist Church of Bradenton, the local chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, and the Quarter Century Wireless Association. Through his amateur radio work with the Red Cross during hurricanes and other disasters, he continued to be honored annually as a Manatee County Volunteer.  In 2011, he was honored with a lifetime membership in the Kirby Stewart American Legion Post, where he was the longest standing member.

A graveside service will be held Saturday, Jan. 14, in Manasota Memorial Park in Oneco at 11 a.m., including military honors. A reception will follow nearby for family and friends. Those who wish to give a memorial donation are encouraged to consider the local organizations that mattered most to him.