Fernandina, Florida, July 2d, 1875.
The great difficulty experienced by the Florida Land and Immigration Company and all the former
Bond-holders of the Florida Railroad Company, in finding purchasers for the wild lands of Florida,
conveyed to them in 1867 and '71 by James T. Soutteer and John McRae, Trustees, added to the continued and
rapidly accruing taxes, which must always be provided for, have caused me to induce the Land Company
referred to place its 359,000 acres of land with the Southern Land and Immigration Agency (the Land
Department of the "South") of New York, to be sold by the Agency through means of "floats" or land warrants, at a
price to net 60 cents per acre.
This is regarded by myself and other parties, experienced in working off unprofitable lands, as the
most simple and effective method of disposing of and settling up said lands; and from the encouragement I
have received from my New York Agency, I am persuaded that the ease with which the land floats can
be handled and utilized, must make them more popular with the thousands throughout the North, West and
in Europe, than any other land scheme now before the public. These floats are to be handsomely lithographed
and accompanied by a large and expensive map, showing a 30 mile belt of country, for 155 miles, from
the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico.
When sold in New York, the holders of these floats (who will be entitled to reduced rates of passage
&c., by Steamships to this point and by rail into the interior of the State,) will have the privilege of
locating their floats on any 40 acre parcel of land, subject to entry, they desire-the money for same (60 cents an
acre) being held on deposit in Banking House of Duncan, Sherman & Co., New York, subject to my order
for benefit of the Florida Land and Immigration Company, who issue the floats. Should, however, the
intending settler locate upon land owned by any of the former bond holders, whom I represent, then
satisfactory arrangements have been made with said Company, to waive its right to the entry and allow the sale to
enure to the owner of the lands thus selected. In this case, a deduction of one cent, per acre will be made, to
pay pro rata cost of floats and provide for the special State tax on sales.
This occurs to me as a most excellent arrangement for all the individual owners of land on line of
the Railway, who have for years been burthoned with an "elephant" in the shape of widely scattered and
unsaleable [sic] pine lands. The whole undertaking-the cost and responsibility of the issue of the land floats, the
getting up of expensive maps and other preliminary expenses, are all undertaken, under my direction, by
the Florida Land and Immigration Company, who have consented to an arrangement, as before stated, by
which all sales of their floats enure to the benefit of other land owners, should the holders thereof prefer lands
other than the large areas it has to sell.
Thus you assume no responsibility or expense, other than the one cent per acre referred to after sales
are made. Commissions to myself and negotiators in New York, to come from a margin (if any can be
made) about the 60 cent limit.
This seems, at last, to be a solution of the vexed question, so often asked by many, "what can you
do with my Florida lands." Now to enable me to perfect my arrangements, at once, it will be necessary
for all parties in interest to give their written consent to the method suggested by me of effecting sales of
part, and thus enhancing value of remaining lands, so that I can undertake and consummate the
negotiation-understandingly and without delay. 'Tis desirable that sales be made this Summer so that provision can
be more readily made for the taxes of 1875, payable in November next, and to get the enterprise so well
organized and under head-way, as to make certain more rapid sales the coming Fall and Winter.
Be pleased, therefore, to let me hear from you immediately upon receipt of this, giving your consent
to the sale of the lands you own or represent; and I would also be pleased to have an expression of your
views, or any suggestions you may think well to make, touching the plan adopted by me for effectually
working off the lands in question.
Sam'L A. Swann
Land Com'r Fla., L & I. Co., and General Land Agt.
State Library of Florida: Florida Collection, BR0033