The Jefferson County Freedmen's Contracts

Series Description

Miscellaneous court records, 1828-1955.

Series Number:

.L 346


Florida. Circuit Court (2nd Circuit : Jefferson County)

Title / Date:

Miscellaneous court records, 1828-1955.


11.75 cubic ft.

Biographical / Historical:

When Florida became a state in 1845, the General Assembly established the Circuit Court system.  The Circuit Courts assumed the duties of the Superior Courts of the territory, and any cases which were pending in the Superior Courts were transferred to the Circuit Court.  Jefferson County, established in 1827 in north Florida, was originally part of the Middle Circuit.  It later became part of the 2nd Judicial Circuit.

The Circuit Courts originally had exclusive jurisdiction in all cases in equity; in all cases at law not heard by inferior courts; in all cases involving the legality of any tax, assessment, or toll; in all actions involving the titles or boundaries of real estate; and in all criminal cases not heard by inferior courts.  The Circuit Court also had final appellate jurisdiction in all civil and criminal cases arising in the County Court; and appellate jurisdiction of matters arising before County Judges pertaining to probate, estates, or interests of minors.

Jefferson County was created from the eastern portion of Leon County on January 6, 1827 by an act of the Legislative Council. Jefferson's northwest boundary with Leon County and its northeast boundary with Madison County changed slightly several times throughout the 1800s.  The Clerk of the Circuit Court in each county serves as the official custodian of not only circuit court records, but also other court records such as deed, marriage, and probate records.


This series consists of a variety of court records maintained by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County.  Some of the records originated in the Circuit Court; for others the court of origin is unclear. 

The majority of the records in the series fall into one of the following categories: account records, bills, and promissory notes; affidavits; bonds; court case files; commitment records; coroner's inquests; deeds and mortgages; dockets; election records; freedmen's contracts; juror and witness records; naturalization records; oaths; petitions; probate records; property records; subpoenas; tax records; warrants; or writs.  A few other miscellaneous records are also included in the series, such as appointments, Board of County Commissioner's records, bridge and road construction records, correspondence, decrees, records of estrays, licenses, records of marks and brands, orders, plats, slave sale records, and summons. For a complete list of record types included in the series, see the box list.

The Archives also holds several other record series of Jefferson County, including: L42 Superior Court case files; L46 School Board records; L48 19th century county records (includes those of several counties; L57 Marriage records; L58 Probate records; L59 Deed records; L232 County Court case files; L233 Circuit Court case files; L234 Justice of the Peace Court records; L306 Chancery records; and L307 Soldiers and sailors discharge records.

This series also includes files of probate records relating to the Bellamy family of Jefferson County, early settlers of territorial Florida.  The records relate to the estates of John Bellamy (or Bellame, died 1845) and two of his sons, Abram (1800-1839, also called Abraham) and William (1802-1846).  Members of the large Bellamy family were leaders in the political and social life of territorial Florida, serving as Territorial Legislators and active in the founding of the city of Jacksonville.

Ownership / Custodial History:

These records were maintained by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, however, for many of the records (particularly court case files), the identity of the creating court or agency is unclear.  In addition, these records were filed separately (for unknown reasons) from the various other records with which they were accessioned (records which became series L42 Superior Court case files, L232 County court case files, L233 Circuit Court case files, and L234 Justice of the Peace Court case files).


The Jefferson County Freedmen's Contracts comprise one section of this broader series of county records. The other sections have not yet been digitized by Florida Memory.