If you are trying to research your current house, the best place to start is the Property Appraisers website. The website has a lot of information to get you started included the legal to the property, Parcel ID, age of the structure and under Sales, the last few owners. Note, 1931 is just a date to start their data base not an owner date. The next step is to search the Clerk of the Court website for the documents for your property; much can be done back to 1978 at home. Before that date you will need to pay us a visit at the Library. Have you noticed that you are working your way backward from a known fact to an unknown one?
Are you interested in a title search of your property or are you just interested in the house? If you are interested in a land, it will require you to trace the property back through all the previous owners by deeds until you find the owner that corresponds with the date of the house. You can then look at the tax rolls to see when the value of the property increased; this usually indicates that a structure has been built. Land can be taken back to the original deed from the Federal Government or to the State of Florida; it can take some time to get back that far.
If you are just interested in your house you can search the city directories, the Sanborn Fire maps, the 1940 tax roll for the Town of Manatee, the 1941 tax roll for the City of Bradenton and the county tax rolls. Plats of the subdivisions will give you some idea when the land started to develop. Almost all the plats are available on our website. There are some very old plats that are recorded in the deed books. Unfortunately, the early directories and Sanborn Fire Maps only cover the three cities in Manatee County: Palmetto, Bradenton and the town of Manatee now East Bradenton.
If you are looking for land that you ancestor owned it is easier to start with the deed books, the tax roll and an estimate of when they were in Manatee County. There are several indexes that cover the land sales for the county from 1855 to current available in the Library. Your ancestor may have received their land from the Bureau of Land Management as a Cash Sale, Armed Occupation Act or under the Homestead Act or from the State of Florida sometimes call the Florida Internal Improvement Fund. Copies of these land transactions would usually be recorded with the local Clerk’s Office by the buyer of the property.
A very important thing to remember when searching for an older piece of land is to determine, are you in the right county courthouse. A good example is Trabue. Trabue was platted in 1885, at that time it was part of Manatee County, all the land purchases that went into the formation of the plat, the plat and any lot sales until May 19 1887 are recorded in the Manatee County Deed Record Books. In 1887 Trabue became part of Desoto County and all the documents generated from that date until 1921 will be in Desoto County. Trabue became part of Charlotte County on April 12, 1921; all documents from that date to current will be in Charlotte County. Trabue is now known as Punta Gorda.