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State of Florida Genealogy

The State of Florida was organized as territory on March 30, 1821 and entered the union as the 27th state on March 3, 1845. It has 67 Counties.

The State of Florida is bordered by Georgia and Alabama (north, northwest). It has a land area of 65,758 square miles making it the 22nd largest state. The 2010 population was 18,801,310 and the largest cities (2010) are Jacksonville, 821,784; Miami, 399,457; Tampa, 335,709; St. Petersburg, 244,769; Orlando, 238,300; Hialeah, 224,669; Tallahassee, 181,376; Fort Lauderdale, 165,521; Port Saint Lucie, 164,603; Pembroke Pines, 154,750. The capital is Tallahassee and the official state website is

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Florida History

The State of Floridai was first seen by the Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon. He called the region La Florida, roughly translated as Land of the Flowers, when he visited it in 1513. It is thought that he chose this name because he was impressed by the many colorful flowers of the region and because he sighted it on Easter, which is called Pascua Florida in Spanish. The State Nickname is " The Sunshine State ". The State Motto is " In God we trust ".

Florida is the most southeastern U.S. state. It shares several borders with the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The Florida panhandle is a low strip of land in the northwest section of the state. Much of the rest of the state is a low peninsula, which is why it is known as the "Peninsula State." The terrain of the state consists of marshes, swamps, forests, lakes, and some rolling hills. It also contains both urban regions and farm areas. It became the 27th state on March 3, 1845.

Then, in the late 1800s, many people came to the state as a result of development schemes. That led to continuous population growth until today. From 1950 to 1970, in fact, there was a 145% population increase in Florida. The population increased by 43.4% over the following decade and by 32.7% in the decade after that. People coming to the state from other places made up most of that growth, rather than new people being born in the state. Most of the people who moved to Florida during that time were retirees. Florida is well-known for being a popular state to retire to. Some people coming to the state were also Cuban refugees. Some also came to the area from other states to participate in various growing industries in Florida.

For most of its recent history, the state of Florida has relied heavily on tourism. It used to be a place where people in northern states would vacation in the winter. However, people from all over the country and the world now come to vacation in Florida at all times of year. That is thanks in large part to its coastal resort cities and its many theme parks. In fact, most of the population of the state lives in or around Orlando, Tampa, or Daytona Beach. However, Jacksonville is the state's most populous city, and Miami is also quite busy. Nevertheless, none of those cities are the state's capitol. The capitol is actually Tallahassee.

According to the Honorable John Randolph of Roanoke, Virginia, who served as a United States Representative from Virginia in 1821, Florida was "a land of swamps, of quagmires, of frogs and alligators and mosquitoes." He said that no man would want to immigrate to that area. However, a census of Florida taken in 2000 showed it to have the fourth highest population of any state in the country. So, John Randolph was clearly wrong.

In 1513, Juan Ponce de Leon landed in Eastertide, Florida. That was 94 years before Jamestown, Virginia was settled by the British. All of what is now Florida, as well as parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, soon became known as Spanish Florida.

Fort Caroline, which was near what is now Jacksonville, was settled by French Huguenots in 1564. The following year, the Spanish founded St. Augustine and Fort Caroline was destroyed. St. Augustine was the first permanent American settlement created by Europeans. More fighting between the French and Spanish took place, but the French soon gave up the Florida peninsula. England, however, continued to try to take control of the area at various points.

In fact, England and Spain fought over the territory throughout the 1600s. The Spaniards began to colonize the entire region in order to ward off the English. San Marcos de Apalache, which later became St. Marks, became a large Spanish settlement in the 1680s. The late 1600s, Spain began to fortify St. Augustine. In 1698, they also resettled the Pensacola area. Both of those moves were in an effort to ward off the British and Native Americans that were siding with the British, as well as to ward off the French, who were trying to move into Florida from the west. The British raided the area several times in both 1702 and 1703. The French eventually took over Pensacola, but not until 1720 and only for a short time. Then they gave it back to Spain and helped Spain to ward off English invaders.

A treaty was signed in 1748. However, ten years later France and England were at war with each other again. Spain was afraid that France would lose, which would be bad for Spain's colonial interests. So, they sided with France in 1761. Nevertheless, the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763 put an end to the Seven Years War. At that point, Florida and England obtained bits of Florida, while Spain received Havana, Cuba, which had been captured.

The area from the Apalachicola River to the Atlantic was called British east Florida, while the area from the Apalachicola to the Mississippi River was called British West Florida. Royal Botanist John Bartram and a Surveyor named General William Gerard de Brahm were sent to the area to give out land grants, bounties, and other incentives in an attempt to get people to settle the area. Throughout the American Revolution, both areas remained on the British side. So, several Tory refugees came to St. Augustine from the Carolinas and Georgia.

Spain captured Pensacola from the British in 1781. Two years later, the Bahama Islands were traded for the two Floridas. Throughout the 10 years following the Revolutionary War, there were several border disputes between America and Spain. Then, the Pinckney Treaty of 195 established West Florida's northern boundary as the 31st parallel. That same treaty gave about one third of what are now Mississippi and Alabama to the United States.

During the war of 1812, Spain did not specifically attack the United States, but they did side with British forces. In 1814, Andrew Jackson took control of Spanish Pensacola, which had been abandoned. That helped to convince Spain that it wasn't reasonable to try to hold an overseas colony when another nation was trying to acquire that land. The 1821 Adams-Onis Treaty stated that West and East Florida would be given to the U.S. by Spain in order to cover about five million dollars in claims against Spain by citizens of the United States.

That same year, a territorial governor was assigned to the area by Congress, and Congress also created a legislative council consisting of 13 members and a system of territorial courts in Florida. On July 21, 1821, the first two Florida counties were founded. By the time the 1830 territorial census was taken, there were 34,730 people living in Florida. That was 3 years prior to the death of Roanoake's Honorable John Randolph. The population of Florida was 66,500 when it became a state 15 years after that.

The Second Seminole War began in December of 1835 when two companies of soldiers and Francis Langhorne Dade, an Army Major, were massacred. That war lasted for 7 years. 1,500 soldiers died in it and it cost over $20 million. The third Seminole War took place from 1855 to 1858. More than 3,800 runaway slaves, free African Americans, and Native Americans were moved to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) by the time that war ended.

The Armed Occupation Act of 1842 encouraged people immigrating to the area to use weapons to defend their land against Indian raids. If the immigrants managed to keep their land for 5 years, they were able to keep it. The only requirements were that they build a home on their land and cultivate it. On March 3, 1845, Florida became the last of the colonies on the Atlantic coast to become a state. Up to that point, the people of Florida had, at various times, lived under the governments of the United States, Spain, Great Britain, and France.

Florida's county boundaries changed a lot during the following three time periods:

In 1821 when Spain relinquished the area to the United States.
After 1900, when a railroad came to Florida's east coast.
After the post-World War I "Land Boom."

In 1925, the last four Florida counties were formed. For the following 5 years, extremely hot summers, extremely cold winters, and several hurricanes caused several financial problems for Florida residents. It amounted to a depression, which took a long time to improve. Nevertheless, by the year 2000 more than 15.9 million people were living in the state.

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