History & Facts of Florida Counties

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.

Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders. Florida divided into 67 counties. Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders.

Florida Counties

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.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Alachua December 29, 1824 Duval and Saint Johns counties Gainesville
Baker February 8, 1861 New River County Macclenny
Bay April 24, 1913 Calhoun and Washington counties Panama City
Bradford December 21, 1858 Columbia County Starke
Brevard January 6, 1844 Mosquito County Titusville
Broward April 30, 1915 Dade and Palm Beach counties Fort Lauderdale
Calhoun January 26, 1838 Franklin, Jackson and Washington counties Blountstown
Charlotte April 23, 1921 DeSoto County Punta Gorda
Citrus June 2, 1887 Hernando County Inverness
Clay December 31, 1858 Duval County Green Cove Springs
Collier May 8, 1923 Lee County Naples
Columbia February 4, 1832 Alachua County Lake City
DeSoto May 19, 1887 Manatee County Arcadia
Dixie April 25, 1921 Lafayette County Cross City
Duval August 12, 1822 Saint Johns County Jacksonville
Escambia July 21, 1821 One of the two original counties of Florida Pensacola
Flagler April 28, 1917 St. Johns and Volusia counties Bunnell
Franklin February 8, 1832 Gadsden and Washington counties Apalachicola
Gadsden June 24, 1823 Jackson County Quincy
Gilchrist December 4, 1925 Alachua County Trenton
Glades April 23, 1921 DeSoto County Moore Haven
Gulf June 6, 1925 Calhoun County Port St. Joe
Hamilton December 26, 1827 Jefferson County Jasper
Hardee April 23, 1921 DeSoto County Wauchula
Hendry May 11, 1923 Lee County La Belle
Hernando February 24, 1843 Alachua County Brooksville
Highlands April 23, 1921 DeSoto County Sebring
Hillsborough January 25, 1834 Alachua County and unorganized territory Tampa
Holmes January 8, 1848 Jackson and Walton counties Bonifay
Indian River May 30, 1925 St. Lucie County Vero Beach
Jackson August 12, 1822 Escambia County Marianna
Jefferson January 6, 1827 Leon County Monticello
Lafayette December 23, 1856 Madison County Mayo
Lake May 13, 1887 Orange and Sumter counties Tavares
Lee May 13, 1887 Monroe County Fort Myers
Leon December 29, 1824 Gadsden County Tallahassee
Levy March 10, 1845 Alachua County Bronson
Liberty December 15, 1855 Gadsden County Bristol
Madison December 26, 1827 Jefferson County Madison
Manatee January 9, 1855 Hillsborough County Bradenton
Marion March 14, 1844 Alachua and Mosquito counties Ocala
Martin May 30, 1925 Saint Lucie and Palm Beach counties Stuart
Miami-Dade January 18, 1836 Monroe County Miami
Monroe July 3, 1823 St. Johns County Key West
Nassau December 29, 1824 Duval County Fernandina Beach
Okaloosa June 3, 1915 Santa Rosa and Walton counties Crestview
Okeechobee May 8, 1917 Osceola, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties Okeechobee
Orange December 29, 1824 St. Johns County Orlando
Osceola May 12, 1887 Brevard and Orange counties Kissimmee
Palm Beach April 30, 1909 Miami-Dade County West Palm Beach
Pasco June 2, 1887 Hernando County Dade City
Pinellas May 23, 1911 Hillsborough County Clearwater
Polk February 8, 1861 Brevard and Hillsborough counties Bartow
Putnam January 13, 1849 Alachua and St. Johns counties Palatka
Saint Johns July 21, 1821 One of the two original counties Saint Augustine
Saint Lucie May 24, 1905 Brevard County Fort Pierce
Santa Rosa February 18, 1842 Escambia County Milton
Sarasota May 14, 1921 Manatee County Sarasota
Seminole April 25, 1913 Orange County Sanford
Sumter January 8, 1853 Marion County Bushnell
Suwannee December 21, 1858 Columbia County Live Oak
Taylor December 23, 1856 Madison County Perry
Union May 20, 1921 Bradford County Lake Butler
Volusia December 29, 1854 Orange County DeLand
Wakulla March 11, 1843 Leon County Crawfordville
Walton December 29, 1824 Escambia and Jackson counties DeFuniak Springs
Washington December 9, 1825 Jackson and Walton counties Chipley

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.

Florida Counties with Burned Courthouses

The 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
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