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The French founded St. Louis, but it was soon ruled by Spain for approximately thirty years. Spain owned this region until Napoleon and France regained control in 1802. Then Napoleon sold the land west of the Mississippi River to the United States in 1803, thus the Louisiana Purchase.
The Spanish records were retained and moved to Havana, Cuba, and finally moved to Seville, Spain. Those records are available on microfilm at the Clayton Library in Houston, Texas. The records are not currently available at any other U.S. library.
An outline of the early Spanish land grants is shown on early St. Louis maps. The Spanish granted property to numerous early citizens; however, the Board of Land Commissioners reversed about seventy percent of these transactions in the early 1800s. The early St. Louis records are in French, Spanish, and English; however, many of the deeds have been translated into English.
Billon, Frederic Louis. Annals of St. Louis in Its Early Days Under the French and Spanish Dominations. 1886. Reprint, Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, Inc., 1997.
Billon, Frederic Louis. Annals of St. Louis in Its Territorial Days, from 1804 to 1821: Being a Continuation of the Author’s Previous Work, the Annals of the French and Spanish Period. St. Louis: Frederick Billon, 1888.
Houck, Louis. The Spanish Regime in Missouri, 2 volumes. Chicago: R. R. Donnelley & Sons, 1909.
Smith, Clifford Neal. Spanish and British Land Grants in Mississippi Territory, 1750–1784. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004.
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