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- The Spanish Land Grants were claims filed to prove ownership of land after the transfer, in 1821, of the territory of Florida to the United States. Starting in 1790, Spain offered land grants to encourage settlement in the sparsely populated and vulnerable Florida colony. When the United States assumed control of the territory, it agreed to honor any valid land grants. Residents had to prove the validity of their grants through documentation and testimonials in dossiers filed with the U.S. government. Claims either were confirmed (found to be valid) or unconfirmed (found invalid) by government land commissions, federal courts, or the U.S. Congress. To accurately describe the nature of the land and the date it was granted, the dossiers contained surveys and plots, copies of royal grants, testimonials, correspondence, deeds, wills, and translations of Spanish documents. The dossiers provide much information about the settlement and development of Florida during the Second Spanish Period (1783-1821) and the Territorial Period (1821-45). These papers relate to the claims of John B. Gaudry, a Spanish nobleman who established a plantation near present-day De Leon Springs after receiving a grant in 1807. They include a color illustration of the plantation depicting forest, lakes, swamps, an Indian path, and the border of the plantation along the St. Johns River, as well as a survey, complete with annotations, of the more than 2,917 acres of land claimed by Gaudry.
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