New York Books - Chemung County
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New York - Chemung County

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Chemung County: An Illustrated History
Amy H. Wilson, Peg Gallagher
Elmira and Chemung Valley Trolleys in the Southern Tier
William Reed Gordon
The Business of Captivity in the Chemung Valley: Elmira and Its Civil War Prison
Michael P. Gray
Death Camp of the North: The Elmira Civil War Prison Camp

Michael Horigan
Seymour Dexter, Union Army: Journal and Letters . . . Volunteer Regiment of Elmira . . .
Seymour Dexter, Carl A. Morrell
Picture Postcard History of New York: Elmira, Carning and Vicinity

Alfred N. Weiner
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Books on county genealogy and history

Chemung Co. GenWeb Project

Chemung Valley History Museum

Elmira History

Map of Chemung Co. (1895)

National Soaring Museum

National Warplane Museum

Official Chemung Co. Website

Official NY State Website

Chemung county, New York, was formed from the western portion of Tioga county, by an act of the legislature March 29, 1836.

At that time it consisted of the townships of Big Flats, Catlin, Catharine, Cayuta, Chemung, Dix, Elmira, Erin, Southport and Veteran. In the year 1854, Schuyler county was formed, and the townships of Dix and Catharine taken from Chemung.

Since that time, as will more fully appear in the histories of the townships, the remaining townships have been divided, so that the townships are now Ashland, Baldwin, Big Flats, Catlin, Chemung, Elmira, Erin, Hose Heads, Southport, Van Etten and Veteran.

The county of Chemung is bounded on the north by the counties of Schuyler and Tompkins, on the east by Tioga county, N.Y., on the south by the Pennsylvania state line, and on the west by Steuben. The Chemung river enters the county from the west, in the town of Big Flats, about eight miles north of the Pennsylvania state line, and running easterly and southeasterly through Big Flats enters to town of Elmira, and passes through the center of the city of Elmira, thence southerly through the town of Southport, and along the eastern line of Ashland, enters and runs through the town of Chemung, and passes out of the county and state, into Bradford county Pennsylvania.

The valley through which this river runs is one of the most fertile, productive and beautiful in the state of New York. It was originally inhabiter by Indians of the six nations, who occupied its productive lands, planted cornfields and set out orchards, erected their rude huts or habitations along the banks of the Chemung and its tributaries, spending their time in cultivating the soil, hunting and fishing, or making war upon weaker tribes, and the white men of the south and east.

Settlements were made by white men in the county of Chemung soon after the close of the revolutionary war. Who the first settler was in the county is a question which has recently been discussed. Some claiming that William Wynkoop, William Buck, Daniel McDowell, Joseph Bennett, Thomas Burt, Enoch Warren and Enoch Warren, Jr., were the first settlers, and others holding to the long conceded claim that Col. John Hendy was the first white man who erected a cabin, planted and harvested a crop within the present limits of the county of Chemung. We have not the space to enter into an argument upon this subject, contenting ourselves with the reflection that a few brief months of priority in the settlement of the county will not add to or detract from the courage, hardihood, enterprise and manly spirit of the early pioneer.

It was a daring and heroic act, to enter the territory at the time that either Col. John Hendy or Mr. Wynkoop and his associates did, so soon after the destructive raid and incursion of Gen. Sullivan and his army in 1779, and so soon after the treaty of peace in the year 1783, between the American Colonies and Great Britain, and while the rival claims of the Indians, the states of Massachusetts and New York were yet pending, covering a territory immediately upon the western limits of the county, and particularly so, when it will be recollected that the valley of the Chemung leading into the valley of the Wyoming was the gateway or pass, that for years had been so watchfully and zealously guarded by the Indians of the six nations.

For ninety years the Penns of Pennsylvania had been gradually crowding the Indians northward, from the lower Delaware, Schuylkill and Lehigh, on to the lower Susquehanna and Juniata, and from the Juniata and lower Susquehanna to the upper waters of the latter river, the west and north branches. For forty years Northumberland, the Kingdom of Shikellemy, was guarded and watched by that Indian soveriegn; but in 1768 he retired to the Tiadaghton (Pine Creek), and in 1784 the state of Pennsylvania by treaty retired the Indians from the Tiadaghton and Tioga Point, the latter their great stronghold, and it was therefore under all the circumstances narrated, a daring and dangerous undertaking for white men to settle in the valley of the Chemung. All honor then to these early pioneers, who laid in foundation for the present happiness and prosperity of the inhabitants of Chemung county. Do not let a few months or years of priority in settlement detract from the honor and glory which should be awarded to the early settlers.

The county of Chemung is unsurpassed by any inland county in the state in railroad facilities. The New York Lake Erie and Western; The Northern Central; The Lehigh Valley; The Tioga, Elmira and State Line; The Delaware Lackawanna and Western, and the Utica, Ithaca and Elmira Railroads center in Elmira, and reach out east, west, north and south through the county. Agriculture receives great care and attention from its inhabitants, wheat, corn, oats, potatoes, barley, tobacco, meat cattle, and orchard and garden products are grown in abundance. The raising of fine horses, meat cattle and sheep also is carried on profitably.

The first Circuit Court held in Chemung county after its organization was held May 16, 1836. Hon. Robert Monell presiding with associates, Hon. Joseph L. Darling; Jacob Westlake and Guy Hulett. Elijah Sexton, of Veteran, was foreman of the first grand jury.

The first Court of Common Pleas was held commencing July 12, 1836. Hon. Joseph L. Darling presiding. Associates, Jacob Westlake, James Hughson, Guy Hulett and Simeon L. Rood.

The first proceedings in the Surrogate's Court was had June 3, 1836. Lyman Covel, Surrogate.

The first board of Supervisors for the county of Chemung, convened at Spencer, in Tioga co., April 2, 1836, at the house of H. Miller. Members present, Samuel Minier, of Big Flats; Timothy Wheat, of Catlin; Jacob Swartwood of Cayuta; John G. Henry of Catharine; Green Bennitt of Dix; John W. Wisner of Elmira; Albert A. Beckwith, of Southport; Asahel Hulett of Veteran. John W. Wisner of Elmira was chosen chairman; Robert C. Hammill clerk.

County Clerks office was erected in the year 1836-7. Commissioners to build the office were Lyman Covell, Charles Orwin, Elijah Sexton, who reported the building completed Nov. 14, 1837. Present court house was erected in 1862. Cost $20,458.34. Commissioners of construction, Hon. Hiram Gray, Hon. Ariel S. Thurston, Anson O. Ely, Esq.

The present county jail, erected in 1872, cost $56,926.16.

At a special meeting of the supervisors of the county of Chemung held Oct. 21, 1836. It was voted to direct the superintendents of the poor to purchase a farm at a cost of not exceeding $3,000. From this beginning has arisen the county poor house and farm of Chemung county. It is situated at Breesport, six miles east of the village of Horseheads.

The Chemung canal and feeder was completed in 1833.

The New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad was chartered April 24, 1832. Completed to Elmira in 1848. The Elmira and Williamsport R. R. now under the management of the Northern Central R. R., completed to Elmira, in 1854. The Elmira and Jefferson R. R., now under the control of the Northern Central R. R., completed in 1849. The Lehigh Valley R. R., completed to Waverly, January 1st, 1868, and they commenced running trains over the N. Y. L. E. & W., R. R. Co.'s track to Elmira, in 1870. Utica, Ithaca and Elmira Railroad was completed in 1875. The Tioga & Elmira State Line R. R., completed and opened in Nov. 1876. Delaware, Lackawanna & Western R. R., completed in 1883.

Chemung county Medical Society, organized May 3, 1836. Physicians present, Lemuel Hudson, Asa R. Howell, Nelsen D. Gardiner, John Payne, Erastus L. Hart, Nelson Winton, Thesus Brooks, Horace Seaman, H. M. Graves, W. E. Boothe, F. Demorest, Uriah Smith, Z. H. Monroe. They met at the house of E. Jones. Dr. Lemuel Hudson was chosen chairman Dr. Howell, Secretary, and a committee consisting of Doctors Paine, Hart, Demorest, Winton and Howell on constitution and By-Laws. Homeopathic Medical Society of Chemung county organized Feb. 5, 1861. Present, Drs. P. W. Gray, N. R. Seeley, T. B. Sellen, H. S. Benedict, E. H. Whippey, J. L. Corbin. Eclectic Medical Society of the Southern Tier organized July 10, 1874. Chemung County Bible Society organized in 1828. In January 1839 Simeon Benjamin was elected president.

Chemung county Teachers Association organized in 1850.

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Click on the links below for book titles and history specific to that county.

From what or whom did the name of each county originate? Click here to find out.

County Date
Parent County County
Albany 1683 original county Albany
Allegany 1806 Genesee Belmont
Bronx 1914 New York Bronx
Broome 1806 Tioga Binghamton
Cattaraugus 1808 Genesee Little Valley
Cayuga 1799 Onondaga Auburn
Charlotte 1772 Albany renamed Washington in 1784
Chautauqua 1808 Genesee Mayville
Chemung 1798 Tioga Elmira
Chenango 1798 Herkimer, Tioga Norwich
Clinton 1788 Washington Plattsburgh
Columbia 1786 Albany Hudson
Cortland 1808 Onondoga Cortland
Delaware 1797 Ulster, Otsego Delhi
Dutchess 1683 original county Poughkeepsie
Erie 1821 Niagara Buffalo
Essex 1799 Clinton Elizabethtown
Franklin 1808 Clinton Malone
Fulton 1838 Montgomery Johnstown
Genesee 1802 Ontario Batavia
Greene 1800 Ulster, Albany Catskill
Hamilton 1816 Montgomery Lake Pleasant
Herkimer 1791 Montgomery Herkimer
Jefferson 1805 Oneida Watertown
1683 Original county Brooklyn
Lewis 1805 Oneida Lowville
Livingston 1821 Genesee, Ontario Geneseo
Madison 1806 Chenango Wampsville
Monroe 1821 Genesee, Ontario Rochester
Montgomery 1772 Albany (as Tryon to 1784) Fonda
Nassau 1899 Queens Mineola
New York City
1683 Original county New York
Niagara 1808 Genesee Lockport
Oneida 1798 Herkimer Utica
Onondaga 1794 Herkimer Syracuse
Ontario 1789 Montgomery Canandaigua
Orange 1683 Original county Goshen
Orleans 1824 Genesee Albion
Oswego 1816 Oneida, Onondaga Oswego, Pulaski
Otsego 1791 Montgomery Cooperstown
Putnam 1812 Dutchess Carmel
Queens 1683 Original county Jamaica
Rensselaer 1791 Albany Troy
Staten Island
1683 Original county St. George
Rockland 1798 Orange New City
St. Lawrence 1802 Clinton, Herkimer, Montgomery Canton
Saratoga 1791 Albany Ballston Spa
Schenectady 1809 Albany Schenectady
Schoharie 1795 Albany, Ostego Schoharie
Schuyler 1854 Tompkins, Steuben, Chemung Watkins Glen
Seneca 1804 Cayuga Ovid, Waterloo
Steuben 1796 Ontario Bath
Suffolk 1683 Original county Riverhead
Sullivan 1809 Ulster Monticello
Tioga 1791 Montgomery Owego
Tompkins 1817 Cayuga, Seneca Ithaca
Tryon 1772 Albany (renamed Montgomery 1784)
Ulster 1683 Original county Kingston
Warren 1813 Washington Lake George
Washington 1772 Albany (see Charlotte) Hudson Falls
Wayne 1823 Ontario, Seneca Lyons
Westchester 1683 Original county White Plains
Wyoming 1841 Genesee Warsaw
Yates 1823 Ontario, Steuben Penn Yan

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