Florida Courthouse Fires

 

The destruction of courthouses greatly affects genealogists in every way. 

Not only are these historic structures torn from our lives, so are the records they housed: 
marriage, wills, probate, land records, and others. Once destroyed they are lost forever. 

Even if they have been placed on mirco-film, computers and film burn too. The most 
heartbreaking side of this is the fact that many of our courthouses are destroyed at the 
hands of arsonist. However, not all records were lost.


Baker County - courthouse, constructed in 1888, was lost to fire. 

Bradford County - The original Lake Butler 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 - Record Loss, unknown causes 

Calhoun County - Record Loss, unknown causes 

Clay County - Court was held in McRae House which burned in 1872 and with it most of 
the county's judicial records. 

Columbia County - 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 - Record Loss (Court) 

Duval County - was burned during the Civil War, burned in 1901. Extent of record loss 
unknown. 

Franklin County - destroyed by fire in 1887 

Gadsden County - burned in 1849, supposedly an act of arson by a Forbes family slave. 

Hamilton County - may have been destroyed by a tornado prior to 1836. Courthouse was 
destroyed by fire in 1929 and rebuilt in 1932. 

Hernando County - destroyed by fire in 1877 

Hillsborough County - 

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 - The first Madison 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 - The first Orange County Courthouse, a two-story hewn-log affair, was burned 
in 1868.  Most of the books and records were destroyed.  

Santa Rosa County - Record Loss (Marriage & Probate) 

Wakulla County - Record Loss (Marriage & Probate) 

Walton County - Record Loss (Marriage & Probate) 

Washington County - Record Loss 



 

 

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