New York Books - Essex County
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New York - Essex County

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The Sticks: A Profile of Essex County, New York
OBITUARIES 1999, Clinton, Franklin & Essex County . . .
Clyde M. Rabideau
Fort Ticonderoga (. . .Famous Forts Throughout American History)
Charles W. Maynard
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Books on County Genealogy and History

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Essex Co. Postal History

Map of Essex County (1895)p Other Essex Co. Links

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Sometimes called "The Tyrol of America," Essex is the most mountainous county in New York. With an area of 1,836 square miles, the second largest in the State, an average elevation of 3,000 feet, the highest in the State, it is a remarkable combination of lofty peaks, deep ravines, glorious lakes and streams which make it the mecca of thousands of lovers of nature's grandeur. Mount Marcy, 5,467 feet, the highest summit in the Adirondacks, Lakes Placid, Schroon, as well as parts of Champlain and George, together with a hundred other bodies of water; Wilmington Notch, Rainbow Falls and Ausable Chasm, where the stream of that name forces its tempestuous way in a long series of falls and cascades through a ravine a hundred feet deep, all are within the boundaries of this county.

Essex lies on the western bank of Lake Champlain about a hundred miles from Albany. Much of it is located in the Adirondack Park. Its dimensions are fifty by forty miles. Its history may begin with the coming of Champlain with his companions and Indians in I609; but as a county starts on March 1, 1799 when it was formed from Clinton County. Permanent colonization was delayed by the wars between the English and the French, with the added difficulties brought about by the confliction of grants of land made by the two governments. Champlain had been given sovereignty over the territory as a reward of discovery; a patent under the date 1758, also covered this district. With the passing of the French dominion came a proclamation by the King of England, October 7, 1763, empowering the colonial governors to issue grants within their domain. These covering the same lands already granted by the French, threw doubt on all the titles for land, and in the period of adjustment, many threw their properties on the market at prices not in accord with their values. William Gilliland shrewdly took advantage of these conditions, bought several thousand acres in Essex and Clinton counties, and upon them established the first planned colony, 1765, Willsborough. To the south near the outlet of Lake George, another New York merchant, Samuel Deall, was founding the town known as Ticonderoga. With the end of the Revolution, a current of emigration set in that speedily peopled the desirable lands. In 1790 Platt Rogers maintained a ferry at Basin Harbor and received great tracts of land. In 1792 Judge Hatch located at Brookfield, town of Essex. A small colony was at Westport; Elizabethtown already was started. In 1797 the present town of Schroon was founded, and even before this date, the better parts of Jay, Lewis, and Keene were occupied by settlers.

In 1799 came the organizing of the county with Elizabethtown as the seat of justice, and the territory divided embracing four towns-Crown Point, formed 1780; Elizabethtown, 1798; Willsborough formed 1788, both from Crown Point; and Jay from Willsborough in 1798.

The colonists at first produced only the things needful to themselves, agriculture being the main industry, but there soon followed the need for roads, saw and gristmills. These were gradually provided, and as early as 1801 plans were laid to begin iron making from the ores brought from the Vermont hills. For the first ten years little was known of the presence of iron in their own State. Anchors and boat irons were made in Willsborough in 1801; shortly, later W. D. Ross had a rolling mill on the Boquet; in 1809 Archibald McIntyre started the Elba Iron Works at West Elba. By 18Z5 the iron industry had grown to quite respectable proportions. Ore beds were opened in various parts of the county and metal working became, in later years, the principal manufacturing interest in Essex.

Meanwhile, since 1800, the lumber business had begun to be pursued on a large scale. Boats of size were sailing the lakes. The first steamboat plied the waters of Champlain in 181O. A canal had been projected and built between 1818 and 1823 connecting the lake with the Hudson. Railroads came much later, 1871, and these only paralleled the Lake Champlain shore.

The county seat of Essex was first located at the town of the same name, and from 1799 to 1807 the courts were held there. In the latter year a commission appointed by the Legislature designated Elizabethtown as the future shiretown. New buildings were erected at the great cost of $2,500 in 1811. These were destroyed by fire shortly after, were rebuilt and again burned, 1823, and again rebuilt in 1843. The repeated burning of the county buildings destroyed many valuable records. It also led to the passing of a law which still is in force, empowering the "Court of Common Pleas" to designate any place in town for the holding of court.

Source: James Sullivan, Ed. History of New York State 1523-1927. Published: 1927

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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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