New York Books - Greene County
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New York - Greene County

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History of Greene County
J. G. Beers
The Greene County: A History

Field Horne
The Diary of Henry Edgar Whittelsey, Storekeeper, 1835-1836
Henry Edgar Whittelsey
Farm, Shop, Landing: The Rise of a Market Society in the Hudson Valley, 1780-1860
Martin Bruegel
A Summer World: The Attempt to Build a Jewish Eden in the Catskills
Stefan Kanfer
In Catskill Country: Collected Essays on Mountain History, Life and Love

Alf Evers
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Books on County Genealogy and History

Greene Co. GenWeb Project

Greene Co. Historical Society

Map of Greene Co. (1895)

Mountain Top Historical Society

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Formed from Albany and Ulster Counties on March 25, 1800, Greene County comprises the most of that famous mountain resort area, known as the Catskills. It is on the west bank of the Hudson, about thirty miles south of Albany, and has an area of 686 square miles. The relatively low bank of the river rises through a set of hills with an abrupt ascent to the mountains. Here the Catskills reach heights of 3,000 to nearly 4,000 feet above the sea level, and on their east and north sides are almost precipitous and cliff-like in their descents. The western slopes are more gentle in their rolling uplands, and it is in this part of the county that agriculture has attained some importance. Much of the soil is so rocky that when Horace Greeley was addressing the farmers of the county, and was interrupted with a question as to what one could do on land in which a plow could not be used, he answered simply, "Raise sheep."

The mountains have clefts through which the streams make their ways, known as "cloves," many of them having cliffs a thousand feet high, with a swirling brook or creek racing its way down the mountainside in splendid cascades. These "cloves" were the original roads of the Indians through the Onteoras, the "Mountains of the Sky," as they called the Catskills. And it was through these same gaps that the pioneers of the region made their way. Today the various cloves are one of the most interesting features of the mountains, and the attraction to thousands who every summer flock to the hills.

Besides agriculture, which in Greene takes the form of hay, milk, fruit, and vegetable growing, there are few industries. Probably there is no county in the state that has had more disruptions of its industrial life. Before the opening of the Erie Canal, a great part of the commerce of the western part of the state poured through Greene. The old Indian trails became the thoroughfares by which the products of the region reaching even to Lake Erie were brought to the Hudson. Catskill village was not only a great grain market, but the flour mills at the falls of the Catskill Creek were the most important in New York. Canals and railroads confined the trade of Greene County to those living in it. When new methods of tanning were put into use, just after the War of 1812 tanners bought great tracts of hemlock in the Catskills and built extensive leather making plants. It is said that Greene County made more leather in the few years before 1835 than was produced by all the rest of the State. But the trees were destroyed and when the needed bark was no longer to be gotten, tanning moved into adjoining counties or went West. The busy, well-populated villages of that day dwindled in size almost as rapidly as they grew. Only the influx of tourists and summer visitors of recent times have kept many of the hamlets from utterly disappearing. One great benefit came from the tanning and lumbering operations of the early days. The land denuded of its forest growth was to a greater extent than usual put under cultivation, so that even where the soil has been abandoned to a second growth of trees, the new forests are the better for the period of farming.

When the region now enclosed by the boundaries of Greene County had its first settler is not surely known. Areas of its surface were bought by the Dutchmen from the Indians from time to time, but there was little effort on their part to people the tracts. A statement by Jonathan W. Hasbrouk says that Brandt Van Schechtenhorst purchased from an Indian squaw chief a piece of land at Katskill April 19, 1649, and shortly after induced families to locate on it. There are evidences that there were a number of residents of the county, principally Dutch, before the Revolution, but that disturbance also disturbed them, and there seems to have been a general exodus at that time. The "Hardenburgh Patent," granted by Queen Anne in 1708, covered almost all of the county west of the mountains, and litigation over its lines did much to retard immigration into the region. Stephen Day, of Connecticut, secured a large tract of the Hardenburgh land at some early date, which led to the coming of quite a group from this State, who in a measure took the place of the displaced Dutch.

Lack of the means of traveling about the region naturally held the growth of the district in check. Fortunately there were enough private individuals with faith enough in the section to form companies and build roads, or "turnpikes," and it was the private turnpike, rather than the State road, that opened up this hilly area. The Susquehanna, Little Delaware, Coxsackie, and a dozen others, were all put into commission in the third of a century following the year 1811. Stage routes were established, and one of these, started by Erastus Beach, in 1823, was the first to make it easy for the tourist to enter the Catskills. Of railroads there have always been plenty in Greene-upon paper-but the actual length of tracks in the county is probably not seventy-five miles.

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