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New York - Lewis County

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A History of Lewis County
Franklin Benjamin Hough
North to the St. Lawrence Marnie Reed Crowell
Castorland: French Refugees in the Western Adirondacks, 1793-1814
Edith Pilcher
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COUNTY HISTORY (As published in 1860)

Other County Resources

Books on County Genealogy and History

Adirondack Museum

Lewis Co. GenWeb Project

Lewis Co. Historical Society

Map of Lewis Co. (1895)

Official Lewis Co. Website

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This county was formed from Oneida, March 28, 1805, and named in honor of Governor Morgan Lewis. Slight changes were made in the boundary on the erection of Pinckney, in 1808, and of Wilna, in 1813. It lies mostly within the valley of Black River, north of the center of the State. It is centrally distant 116 mi. from Albany, and contains 1,288 sq. mi. Its surface consists of the broad intervales which extend along the course of Black River, and uplands which rise upon the east and west. The eastern half rises gradually to the eastern border of the county, where it attains an elevation of about 1400 feet above tide. This part of the county forms a portion of the great wilderness of Northern N. Y. The surface in many places is broken by low ridges or isolated masses of naked gneiss. The streams generally flow over rocky beds, and in places through wild ravines. The soil is a light, yellow, sandy loam and unprofitable for cultivation. In the eastern forests are great numbers of picturesque lakes, many of which are scarcely known except to hunters and fishermen. The streams flowing from the plateau are generally rapid, furnishing an abundance of water power. (The water of these streams is discolored by organic matter, manganese, and iron, and imparts to Black River the color which has given it its name.) Magnetic iron ore has been found interstratified with gneiss and red specular ore on the northeasterm border of the county, and along the margins of the streams is an abundance of iron sand. At the junction of the gneiss and white limestone in Diana are a great number of interesting minerals. (Zircom, sphene, tabular spar, pyroxene, nuttallite, blue calcite, bright crystallized iron pyrities, Rensselaerite, and coccolite are found near Natural Bridge.)

The western side rises from the valley of Black River by a series of terraces to near the center of the western half of the county, whence it spreads out toward Lake Ontario. These terraces are occasionally broken by oblique valleys from the northwest. The summit is 1500 to 1700 feet above tide. The intervale along the river, and the banks which immediately border upon it, are underlaid by Black River limestone. Next above this, in an irregular terrace, rises the Trenton limestone, 300 feet thick in the northern part of the county and gradually diminishing toward the south. This limestone is very compact and strongly resists the action of the elements. In many places it presents the face of steep declivities approaching the perpendicular, and the streams from the western plateau generally flow over this formation in a single perpendicular fall. This rock underlies an extremely fertile and nearly level tract of 1 to 3 mi. wide. Above it, on the west, the strata of the Utica slate and Lorraine shales rise about 500 feet higher, and from the summit the surface spreads out into a nearly level region, with its waters flowing both toward the east and west. (The highest part of the range is said to be on Lot 50, in High Market, and is 1700 feet above tide. On a clear day the hills of Madison County can be seen from this place.) This range in Lewis County is known as Tug Hill. The soil in the limestone region is sometimes thin, but is everywhere productive. Near the foot of Tug Hill is a strip of stiff clay a few rods wide, extending the whole length of the county, and marked by a line of springs and swamps. The soil upon the slate is deep and well adapted to grazing, but, from its great elevation, it is liable to late and early frosts. Upon the summit of the slate table lands are extensive swamps, which give rise to streams flowing into Black River, Lake Ontario, Oneida Lake, and the Mohawk. Drift deposits are scattered promiscuously, and sometimes lie at a great depth, more particularly upon the northerly sides of the oblique valleys before mentioned.

The streams which rise on the summit of Tug Hill in many places flow through ancient beaver meadows, and upon the brow of the hill they have invariably worn deep ravines into the slates, and shales, in some instances 3 or 4 mi. in length and 100 to 300 feet deep. Chimney Point and Whetstone Gulf, in Martinsburgh, are localities of this kind. There are but few ravines in the limestone terraces, though the Deer River Falls, near Copenhagen, are in a gorge worn in this rock. A think layer of Potsdam sandstone rests immediately upon the gneiss in Martinsburgh. Waterlime of excellent quality has been made from the lower strata of Black River limestone, and veins of lead ore have been worked in the upper part of the Trenton limestone in Martinsburgh and Lowville. (About the year 1828 a silver mine was announced as discovered near Lowville; and in 1837 a lead mine was somewhat extensively wrought 1 mi. northwest of Martinsburgh Village, and several tons of lead were made at a great loss. More recently a company of speculators have bought the premises; but work has not been resumed, and probably will not be. Black oxyd of manganese has been found in swamps upon the summit of Tug Hill in the southwest part of Martinsburgh.) The outline of the hills readily indicates the character of the underlying rocks. (In the primary region the upheavals retain their original forms without change; the limestone terraces rise by steep slopes to their level summit; and the slate and shale hills exhibit the yielding character of the rocks which compose them, by their rounded outline and the gorges which every spring torrent has worn upon their sides.)

The southwest part of the county is drained by Fish Creek and its branches, and the headwaters of the Mohawk. Salmon River rises upon the western border, and the Oswegatchie and Indian (Called by the Indians O-jeŽquack, Nut River) Rivers take their rise in the northeast. The principal tributaries of Black River are Moose (Indian name Te-kaŽhun-di-anŽdo, clearing and opening) and Beaver Rivers (Indian name Ne-ba-saŽne, crossing on a stick of timber), Otter (Indian name Da-ween-net, the otter), Independence, and Fish Creeks, and Fall Brook, on the east; and Sugar River, Mill, Houses, and Whetstone Creeks, Roaring Brook, Lowville Creek, and Deer River (Indian name Ga-neŽga-toŽdo, corn pounder) upon the west. Several mineral springs are found within the county. (The largest of these arises from the limestone in Lowville, near the line of Harrisburgh. Others rise from the slate upon Tug Hill. All of them emit sulphuretted hydrogen gas, and some have been used for medicinal purposes.) Spring grains are readily cultivated; but this county is particularly adapted to pasturage, dairying forming the principal pursuit of the people. Droughts seldom occur; but the uplands are noted for their deep snows. Within a few years, several extensive establishments have been erected upon Black, Moose, Beaver, and Deer Rivers, for the manufacture of leather, paper, lumber, and articles of wood. Two furnaces for the manufacture of iron from the ore are located near the northern border.

The county seat is located at Martinsburgh. A wooden courthouse and jail were built here in 1810-11, upon a site given by Gen. Martin. (The county seat was located by the same commissioners that were appointed for Jefferson County Benj. Van Vleeck, Daniel Kelly, and Jonathan Collins, by act of 1811, were appointed to superintend the completion of these buildings. The first county officers were Daniel Kelly, First Judge; Jonathan Collins, Judah Barnes, and Solomon King, Judges; Lewis Graves and Asa Brayton, Asst. Justices; Asa Lord, Coroner; Chillus Doty, Sheriff; Richard Coxe, Clerk; and Isaac W. Bostwick, Surrogate.) The present clerk's office was erected by citizens of Martinsburgh in 1847. Active efforts were made at an early day, and renewed in 1852, to obtain the removal of the county seat to Lowville, and a fine edifice was built at the place for the courts, in the hope of securing their removal. The county poorhouse is located upon a farm of 59 acres 1 mi. west of Lowville. The average number of inmates is about 90. The institution is well managed in regard to economy, neatness, and the health of the inmates. The only internal improvement in the county is the Black River Canal, connecting Black River below Lyons Falls with the Erie Canal at Rome. (The Black River & Utica R. R., now finished to Boonville, will probably be extended through the Black River Valley.) From Lyons Falls the river is navigated to Carthage, a distance of 42-1/2 mi., by small steamers. Three newspapers are now published in the county:

    The Black River Gazette was established at Martinsburgh, March 10, 1807, by James B. Robbins, and was removed to Watertown the following year. This was the first paper published in the State north of Utica.
    The Lewis Co. Sentinel was started at Martinsburgh, Oct. 12, 1824, by Charles Nichols, and continued 1 year.
    The Martinsburgh Sentinel was commenced in 1828 by ___Pearson, and continued until March, 1830.
    The Lewis County Republican was established at Martinsburgh, in 1831 or '32, by James Wheeler, who sold it to Daniel S. Bailey, its present publisher, in 1837. It was removed to Lowville in 1844, but has since been returned to Martinsburgh.
    The Lewis Co. Gazette was started at Lowville, in the spring of 1821, by Lewis G.
    Hoffman, and continued 2 years. The Black River Gazette was issued at Lowville, Oct. 19, 1825, by Wm. L.
    Easton. It was sold in 1830 to J. M. Farr, by whom it was continued a year or more.
    The Lewis Democrat was started at Lowville, March 25, 1834, by Le Grand Byington, and continued 1 year.
    The Northern Journal was commenced at Lowville, Feb. 14, 1838, by A. W. Clark. It has frequently changed owners, and is now published by Henry A. Phillips.
    The Lewis County Banner was started at Lowville, Sept. 3, 1856, by N. B. Sylvester, and is now published by Henry Allgoever.
    The Lewis Co. Democrat was commenced Sept. 23, 1856, at Turin, by H. R. Labe. It was removed to Martinsburgh in 1849 and discontinued a few weeks after.
    The Dollar Weekly Northern Blade was started at Constableville in 1854. It was changed to
    The News Register in April, 1857, by Merrill & Cook, its publishers, and was afterward removed to Carthage.

This county is entirely within Macomb's Purchase, and includes a part of GreatTract No. IV, most of the Chassanis Purchase, Watson's West Tract, the Brantingham Tract, and a small part of John Brown's Tract, on the eastern side of the river; and 4 of the "Eleven Towns, 5 of the Thirteen Towns of the Boylston Tract, Constable's Five Towns, and Inman's Triangle on the west.

This tract was bought by the Antwerp Company, and embraced an area of 450,950 acres. (See Jeff. Co.)
This tract was purchased by Pierre Chassanis in 1792, and was supposed to contain 600,00 acres. Upon a survey being made, it was found that the tract fell far short of this; and a new agreement was made, April 2, 1793, for 210,00 acres. A narrow strip of this tract extended along the eastern side of the river to High Falls. The settlers of this tract were principally refugees of the French Revolution. Many of them were wealthy, titled, and highly educated, and, in consequence, were poorly fitted for the hardships of pioneer life. Large sums of money were expended to render the settlement successful, but the settlers soon after returned to France and the enterprise was abandoned. Rudolph Tillier was the first agent; and in 1800 he was superseded by Gouverneur Morris, who appointed Richard Coxe his agent. The first buildings were erected near the present residence of Francis Seger.
James Watson purchased 61,433 acres, in 2 tracts, connected by a narrow isthmus. The eastern tract is mostly in Herkimer County
So called from Thomas H. Brantingham, of the city of Philadelphia, who at one time held the title. It is mostly in Greig, and contains 74,400 acres.
This tract, which is popularly regarded as the whole northern wilderness of New York, included 210,000 acres sold by Constable to John Julius Augerstein, and afterward conveyed to John Brown, of Providence, R. I. It was divided into 8 townships, as follows:

1. Industry
2. Enterprise
3. Perseverance
4. Unanimity
5. Frugality
6. Sobriety
7. Economy
8. Regularity

It has been said that all of these social virtues are needed for the settlement of this region. The first 4 townships are partly in Lewis County. Numbers 5, 9, 10 and 11, -- now Denmark, Pinckney, Harrisburgh, and Lowville.
Named from Thos. Boylston, of Boston, who held the title a few days. Nos. 3, 4, 8, 9 and 13, now Montague, Osceola, and parts of Martinsburgh and High Market, are in Lewis County. The whole tract included 817,155 acres.
These towns were Xenophon, Flora, Lucretia, Pomona, and Porcia, and now form parts of Lewis, High Market, and Martinsburgh and the whole of Turin and West Turin.
Leyden as it existed before Lewis was erected. It included 26,250 acres, forming a perfect triangle.

The first settlers came from New England and settled at Leyden in 1794. The fame of the "Black River country spread through Mass. and Conn., and within the next ten years the country between Tug Hill and the river rapidly filled up with a laborious, intelligent, and enterprising population. A romantic project of settlement formed by refugees of the French Revolution, in which Arcadian dreams of rural felicity were to be realized, was abandoned after a short experience of the real hardships of pioneer life. Except an expensive but ineffectual attempt by Brown to settle his tract, toward the close of the last century, little improvement was made east of the river until about 1820; and this section has at present time less than one-fourth of the population, and a still less proportion of the wealth, of the county. A systematic effort at settlement of the extreme western part was first made in 1840-46, under Seymour Green and Diodate Pease, agents of the Pierrepont estate. Much of this region is still a wilderness.



CROGHAN -- was formed from Watson and Diana, April 5, 1841, and a part of New Bremen was taken off in 1848. It lies east of Black River, in the northern part of the county. The surface has an inclination toward the west and north, and in the central and eastern parts it is broken and hilly. Oswegatchie and Indian Rivers rise in the town and flow northerly into Diana; and Beaver River forms a portion of its southern boundary. In the eastern part of the town are several lakes. The soil is light and sandy, and along the river intervales it is moderately fertile. The town is thinly settled along Black and Beaver Rivers, but in the north and east it is still a wilderness. Croghan, (p.o.,) on Beaver River, and Naumburg, (p.o.,) in the western part of the town, are small villages. Indian River, (p.o.,) north of the center of the town, and Belfort, on Beaver River, are hamlets. Settlement commenced before 1830, under P. S. Stewart, agent for Le Ray. Many of the settlers are French and Germans. There are 5 churches in town.

Named in honor of Col. Geo. Croghan. It is locally pronounced "CroŽgan;" its proper pronunciation is "Crawn."
Locally known as the "Prussian Settlement."
Evan. Asso. or Germ. Meth., Ref. Prot. D, M. E., and 2 R. C.

DENMARK -- was formed from Harrisburgh, April 3, 1807. It lies west of Black River, on the northern border of the county. Its surface descends to Black River on the east by a succession of irregular terraces. Deer River flows through the town, and upon its course are several falls, affording an abundant water power. The High Falls, one mi. below Copenhagen, descend 160 feet, at an angle of about 80o, and are celebrated for their picturesque beauty. Kings Fall, 2 mi. below, has a descent of about 40 feet. The eastern part of the town is covered with deep deposits of drift. Near the mouth of Deer River are extensive flats; and Black River is bordered by a cedar swamp. The soil is very fertile. Copenhagen, (p.v.,) on Deer River, in the western part, contains 3 churches and several manufactories. Pop. 505. Denmark, (p.v.,) in the eastern part, contains about 50 houses; and Deer River, (p.v.,) on the river of the same name, 2 mi. from its mouth, 35. The first settlement was made in 1800, by Jesse Blodget. The census reports 6 churches in town.

This town embraces Township No. 6 (illegible), or Mantua, of the Eleven Towns.
Originally called "Mungers Mills," from Nathan Munger, one of the early settlers.
About 1830 the manufacture of cordage was commenced here on an extensive scale; but it has recently been abandoned.
Abel French was the first settler at this place, and it was originally known as "Frenchs Mills."
Among the early settlers were Freedom Wright, Major J. Crary, Robert Howe, Asa Pierce, Ichabod Parsons, Lewis Graves, Jonathan Barker, J. Rich, and Andrew Mills.
Bap., organized in 1810, Cong., M. E., Univ., and 2 Union.

DIANA -- was formed from Watson, April 16, 1830, and a part of Croghan was taken off in 1841. This is the extreme northeast town in the county. Its surface is level, or gently rolling. In the eastern part are 2 isolated hills, 300 to 500 feet above the surrounding surface. The principal streams are Oswegatchie and Indian Rivers and their branches. Bonaparte and Indian Lakes, in the northern part, and Cranberry, Legiers, and Sweets Lakes, in the east, are the principal bodies of water. The greater part of this town is yet a wilderness. The soil is light and sandy. Iron ore is found in the northern and eastern parts, and coarse, crystalline marble, of a sky-blue tint, on the banks of Indian River, near Natural Bridge. Sterlingbush, (p.v.,) in the western part, contains 15 houses; and Harrisville 12. Blanchards Settlement (Diana Center p.o.) is in the southern part. Diana is a p.o., and Alpina is a hamlet. There are 2 churches in town, (Bap. and M.E.,) but no church edifice.

Bonaparte Lake was so called in honor of Joseph Bonaparte, who built a log house upon its banks, for the accommodation of himself and friends while upon hunting and fishing excursions, during his stay at his summer residence at Natural Bridge.
Formerly called "Louisburg." It owes its origin to an iron furnace built here in 1833.
An iron furnace was built here in 1847 by Suchard & Farvager, Swiss capitalists, and the place has grown up around it.

GREIG -- was formed from Watson, April 5, 1828, as "Brantingham." Its name was changed Feb. 20, 1832. It is the southeast corner town of the county. Its surface is rolling in the west, but it is broken, rocky, and in some places hilly, in the east. The principal streams all tributaries of Black River, are Moose River, Otter, Stony, and Fish Creeks, and Cole and Fall Brooks. The scenery along Moose River is celebrated for its wildness and beauty. The greater part of the town is yet a wilderness. In the eastern part are several small lakes, which constitute some of the favorite resorts of fishermen. The soil is principally a light, sandy loam. Iron ore and ocher are found, and near Brantingham Lake is a sulphur spring. Lumber, leather, and paper are made, and on Otter Creek is an extensive match box factory. Lyonsdale, on Moose River, 3 mi. from its mouth, and Greig and Brantingham, near Black River, are post offices. In 1796 the French, under Rodolph Tillier, settled on the Chassanis Tract, near Black River, below the High Falls. The only church in town (Presb.) was formed in 1807.

Named from the late John Greig, of Canandaigua, who owned large tracts of land in the town.
The first settlement was made in this place by Caleb Lyon, in 1819. He died in 1835, the year before his long cherished project of a State canal to the Black River was authorized by law. His son, Caleb Lyon of Lyonsdale, has at this place a Gothic villa, located in the midst of picturesque scenery and adorned with elegant collections of art.
See previous comments in County Portion.

HARRISBURGH -- was formed from Lowville, Champion, (Jefferson County) and Mexico, (Oswego County,) Feb. 22, 1803. Denmark was taken off in 1807, and a part of Pinckney in 1808. It lies upon the slate hills and limestone terraces northwest of the center of the county. Its general inclination is toward the northeast, its southwest corner being 300 to 500 feet above Black River. Its surface is generally rolling, but on the southwest it is moderately hilly. Deer River and its tributaries are the principal streams. The soil is generally a rich loam largely intermixed with disintegrated limestone and slate. Harrisburgh, in the northeast part, and South Harrisburgh, in the south, are post offices. Settlement commenced a short time previous to the War of 1812. The first religious services were conducted by Elder Amasa Dodge, a Free Will Baptist minister. There are 4 churches in town.

Named from Richard Harrison, of N. Y., one of the early proprietors. The town embraces No. 10, or Platina, of the Eleven Towns.
Among the early settlers were John and Silas Bush, Amos Buck, Geo. Stoddard, and Thomas and Gilbert Merrills.
Bap., Free Will Bap., M. E., and R. C.

HIGH MARKET -- was formed from West Turin, Nov. 11, 1852. It lies upon the elevated slate region west of Black River, a little south of the center of the county. Its general inclination is toward the southeast. Its surface is rolling in the south, but broken and moderately hilly in the north and west. Its streams are Fish Creek and its branches, the principal of which are Big and Little Alder Creeks. The soil is a loam mixed with disintegrated slate, and is best adapted to pasturage. High Market (p.o.) is in the southeast part of the town. Most of the town is still unsettled. Among the first settlers were Alfred Hovey, L. Fairchild, John Felshaw, Sol. Wells, and Benj. Martin. A large proportion of the people are of Irish nativity. There are no churches in town.

This town embraces Township No. 9, or Penelope, of the Boylston Tract, and parts of Nos. 2 and 3, or Flora and Lucretia, of Constable's Towns.
S. C. Thompson kept the first store and inn and built the first gristmill; and James McVicker erected the first sawmill. The first school was taught by Ada Higby.
They settled in town soon after the suspension of the public works in 1842.

LEWIS -- was formed from West Turin and Leyden, Nov. 11, 1852. It lies upon the elevated plateau in the southern angle of the county. Its surface is generally rolling, but in the western part it is broken and hilly. Its entire surface is 700 to 1200 feet above the valley of Black River. The principal streams are Fish Creek, the western branch of the Mohawk, and the western branch of Salmon River. Most of the town is yet an uninhabited wilderness. The soil is generally a sandy loam, moderately fertile and best adapted to grazing. Owing to the elevation of the town, spring is late, autumn early, and snows deep. West Leyden, (p.v.,) situated on the headwaters of the Mohawk, in the eastern part of the town, contains about 20 houses. Settlement was commenced about 1800; but the present inhabitants of the town are mostly new comers, of German nativity. The first church (Presb.) was organized in 1826. There are now 4 churches in town.

1Named from the county
2Among the earliest settlers were John Barnes, Medad Dewey, Joel Jenks, Matthew Porter, C. and J. Putnam, and Augustus Kent.
3Presb., Bap., M. E., and R. C.

LEYDEN1 -- was formed from Steuben, (Oneida County) March 20, 1797. Brownville (Jefferson County) was taken off in 1802, Boonville (Oneida County) in 1805, a part of Wilna (Jefferson County) in 1813, Watson in 1821, and a part of Lewis in 1852. It lies on the west bank of Black River, upon the southern border of the county. Its inclination is toward the eastern, the western border being about 500 feet above the river. Its surface is undulating. Its principal streams are Sugar River and Moose Creek.2 The soil is a fertile loam mixed with disintegrated slate and limestone. Port Leyden, (p.v.,) on Black River, has a population of 192. Talcottville, (Leyden p.o,) in the center of the town, of 50; and Leyden Hill, in the northern part, of 40. Settlement began in 1794,3 under the owners of the Triangle. A Cong. church was formed at a very early period, by Rev. ___Ely, and a Bap. church in 1798. There are now 6 churches in town.4

1This town, with that part of Lewis which was set off from it, forms the tract known as "Inman's Triangle."
2Upon Sugar River is a beautiful cascade of about 60 feet fall in the space of 200 feet; and upon Black River, a little below Port Leyden, are a series of rapids, known as "The Narrows," where the banks are so contracted that a person can jump across the stream during the dry season.
3Among the first settlers were Wm. Topping, Bela Butterfield, Brainard and David Miller, Hezekiah Talcott, Asa Lord, Wm. Bingham, Theo. Olmstead, ___Adams, Allen Auger, J. Hinman, L. Hart, and Benj. Starr. The first birth was that of Jonathan Topping, in 1794; and the first death, that of Calvin Miller, March 22, 1797. The second mill in the county was built at Port Leyden, about 1800, by Eber Kelsey and Peter W. Aldrich.
4 2 Cong., Bap., M. E., Calv. Meth., Univ.

LOWVILLE1 -- was formed from Mexico, (Oswego County) March 14, 1800, and a part of Harrisburgh was taken off in 1803. It lies upon the west bank of Black River, a little north of the center of the county. Its western border is about 400 feet above the river. Its surface is gently rolling. A wide intervale, the northern part of which is swampy, extends along the course of the river. The soil is a deep, fertile loam intermixed with disintegrated limestone.2 A mineral spring is found near the northern border of the town. Lowville, (p.v.,) incorp. under the act of 1847,3 is situated near the southern border of the town. It contains 5 churches, an academy,4 2 printing offices, and a bank. Pop. 908. West Lowville, (p.o.,) in the western part of the town, Stows Square, about 3 mi. north of Lowville, and Smiths Landing, on Black River, are hamlets. Settlement was commenced about 1797, under Silas Stow, agent for N. Low, and the town was rapidly filled with immigrants from New England.5 The first church (M. E.) was founded in 1804. There are now 6 churches in town.6

1This town embraces No. 11 of the Eleven Towns. It was named from Nicholas Low, of N. Y., the early pioneer.
2In the Trenton limestone are veins of the sulphurets of lead and iron, intermixed with calcite and fluor spar.
3The charter was confirmed Feb. 27, 1858. In 1852-53 active efforts were made to secure the location of the county seat in this village; and a fine brick building, now used as a town hall, was erected in anticipation of its removal.
4The Lowville Academy has from the first maintained a high rank. Its 50th anniversary was celebrated July 22, 1858.
5Among the early settlers were Jonathan Rogers, Ehud Stephens, Moses Waters, A. Wilcox, B. Hillihan (?), Daniel Kelley, Isaac Perry, J. H. and S. Leonard, John Schull, Wm. Darrow, Jas. Bailey, John Bush, A. F. and J. Snell, David and Benj. Rice, and Ebenezer Hills. The first birth was that of Harriet Stephens. The first inn was kept by Capt. Rogers, and the first store by Fortunatus Eager. The first mill was built by D. Kelley.
62 Bap., Cong., Friends, M. E., and Prot. E.

MARTINSBURGH1 -- was formed from Turin, Feb. 22, 1803, and a part of Turin was annexed in 1819. It lies upon the west bank of Black River, near the center of the county. It has an easterly inclination, its western border being nearly 1000 feet above the river valley. Its surface is rolling, with a wide, level intervale bordering upon the river. The principal streams are Martins and Whetstone Creeks.2 The soil is a deep, fertile loam, except along the river, where it is sandy. Near the head of Whetstone Gulf is a sulphur spring. Martinsburgh (p.v.) is situated on Martins Creek, near the center of the town. It contains the county buildings, 3 churches, and a newspaper office. Pop. 2l0. West Martinsburgh, (p.v.,) in the northern part of the town, has a pop. of 164. Glensdale, (p.o.,) in the southeast part, is a hamlet of about 12 dwellings. Settlement was begun by Gen. Walter Martin, at Martinsburgh, in 1801.3 The first church (Presb.) was organized in 1804, by Rev. Elijah Norton. There are 7 churches in town.4

1This town embraces Township No. 4, or Cornells, of the Boylston Tract, and Porcia and a part of Lucretia, of Constable's Towns.
2Maritins Creek was formerly called Roaring Brook." At Chimney Point, near the center of the town, this stream has worn a channel through the shale and Utica slate, for 2 mi., to the depth of 200 to 250 feet. This remarkable chasm above the "Chimney" is tortuous, with precipitous sides, and in many places is so narrow that the stream occupies the entire space between the ledges. Whetstone Gulf, upon Whetstone Creek, in the southern part of the town, is a similar ravine.
3Among the first settlers were Elijah Baldwin, Mrs. Richard Arthur and sons, Reuben Pitcher and sons, N. Cheney, Eli Rogers, Ebud Stephens, N. Alexander, Stephen Searle, Joseph Sheldon, Chillus Doty, A. Conkey, D. Ashley, S. Gowdy, C. and D. Shumway, and J. and O. Moore. W. Martin built the first mills, and in 1807 a paper mill.
4 2 M. E., 2 Union, Bap., Presb., and Second Advent.

MONTAGUE1 (Mon-ta-guŽ) -- was formed from West Turin, Nov. 14, 1850. It lies near the center of the western border of the county. Its inclination is toward the northwest, and its elevation is 1200 to 1600 ft. above tide. Its surface is generally rolling, but in some places it is broken and hilly. It is watered by numerous small streams, flowing into Deer River. The northern branch of Salmon River flows through the southwest corner. Upon lot 22, in the northwest part, is a sulphur spring. The soil is a moderately fertile, sandy and gravelly loam. Gardners Corners (Montague p.o.) is in the northern part of the town. Settlement commenced in 1846, under the agency of Diadate Pease, agent of the Pierrepont estate. There are 2 churches in town; M. E. and Bap.

1This town embraces Township No. 3, or Shakespeare, of the Boylston Tract. It was named from the daughter of H. B. Pierrepont, the proprietor.

NEW BREMEN -- was formed from Watson and Croghan, March 31, 1848. It lies upon the eastern bank of Black River, north of the center of the county Its surface is level in the west, but rolling, broken, and rocky in the east. It is watered by several tributaries of Black River, the largest of which is Beaver River, on the northern boundary. The eastern part is sparsely settled. The soil is a light, sandy loam. Dayansville1 (New Bremen p.o.) is in the western part of the town. Pop. 200. Settlement was commenced in 1798, by Samuel Illingworth and some French families.2 In the western part is a settlement of Germans, and in the north one of French. There are 4 churches in town.3

1This place was laid out in 1826, by Charles Dayan.
2Several of the French company located at the head of navigation on Beaver River, where they designed to build a city. A sawmill was built, a half-dozen houses were erected, and the place received the name of "Custorville." Jacob Obosier (?) and Rodolph Tillier were engaged in this project.
3Bap., M. E., Evan., Luth., and R. C.

OSCEOLA1 -- was formed from West Turin, Feb. 28, 1844. It lies upon the high region in the southwest corner of the county. Its general inclination is toward the southwest. Its surface is undulating, and the highest points are 1500 to 1600 ft. above tide. The streams are branches of Fish Creek and Salmon River. The soil is a moderately fertile, sandy loam. Nearly all the town is yet a wilderness. Osceola is a p.o. in the southern part. Settlement was commenced about 1838, by Seymour Green, agent for Pierrepont. There are 2 churches in town, M. E. and Ind.

1This town embraces Townships 13 and 8, or Rurabella nd Hybia, of the Boyslton Tract. It was named from the celebrated Seminole chief.

PINCKNEY1 -- was formed from Harrisburgh and "Harrison," (now Rodman, Jefferson County) February 12, 1808. It lies upon the highlands in the northwest corner of the county, and has an average elevation of 1300 ft. above tide. It forms the watershed between Deer River and Sandy Creek, the head branches of which constitute the principal streams. A series of swamps extend along the eastern border. In the town are several mineral springs, one of which has acquired considerable local notoriety for its medicinal qualities. The soil is a light, slaty loam upon the hills, and a deep black laom in the valleys. Pinckney, New Boston, Barnes Corners, and Cronks Corners are post offices. Settlement was commenced in 1804, under Abel French, agent of Mr. Henderson.2 The first church (Bap.) was formed in 1810. There are now 4 churches in town.3

1By the act organizing this town, Township No. 9, or Handel, of the Eleven Towns, was annexed to Lewis County. The town was named in honor of Charles C. Pinckney, a statesman of S. C.
2Among the early settlers were F. Penington, Phineas Woolworth, N. E. Moody, Stephen Hart, James Hunt, and Stephen Armstrong. French was succeeded in 1805 by Jesse Hopkins, and he by L. W. Bostwick, a few years after. Owing to its great elevation, the town is liable to deep snows, and, in consequence, its settlement was retarded until a recent date. Since the introduction of dairying, it has become an important town for the production of the staple products of the county, -- butter and cheese.
32 M. E., Bap. and R. C.

TURIN -- was formed from Mexico, (Oswego County) March 14, 1800. Martinsburgh was taken off in 1803, another portion was annexed to Martinsburgh in 1819, and West Turin was taken off in 1830. It lies upon the west bank of Black River, south of the center of the county. Its western boundary is 800 to 1000 ft. above the river, giving to the town an easterly inclination. The surface is level, except near the western border, where it ascends to the slate hills, and in the east, where it descends to the river intervale. The soil is generally a deep, fertile loam mixed with disintegrated slate and limestone. Turin, (p.v.,) situated in the southern part, contains 3 churches and several manufactories.1 Pop. 438. Houseville,2 (p.v.,) in the northern part, has a pop. of 90. The first settlement was made about 1797, by Nathaniel Shaler, of Middletown, agent of Wm. Constable and part owner, and the town was rapidly settled by immigrants from New England.3 The first church (Presb.) was organized Sept. 19, 1802, by Rev. John Taylor. There are six churches in town.4

1There are 3 gristmills upon Mill Creek, near Turin, and a woolen factory 1 mi. below the village.
2Names from its founder, Eleazer House.
3Among the early settlers were Enoch Johnson, Zaocheus (?) and John Higby, Levi, Elijah, Justus, and Reuben Woolworth, Thos. Kilham, Ezra Clapp, C. Williston, Eleazer House, Z. Bush, and W. and G. Shepherd. The first birth was that of Cynthia Clapp; and the first marriage, that of Levi Collins and Mary Bush.
4 3 M. E., 2 Presb., and O. S. Bap.

WATSON1 -- was formed from Leyden, March 30, 1821. "Brantingham" (now Greig) was taken off in 1828, Diana in 1830, a part of Croghan in 1841, and a part of New Bremen in 1848. It lies upon the eastern bank of Black River, and extends from near the center of the county to its eastern border. Its surface is level or gently rolling in the western part, but in the central and eastern parts it is more hilly and broken. It is watered by Beaver River, Independence Creek, and several smaller branches of Black River. The central and eastern parts are yet covered with unbroken forests; and a large tract upon the extreme eastern border constitutes a portion of the far famed "John Brown's Tract." In the recesses of these forests are numerous beautiful lakes that are scarcely known except to hunters. Chases Lake, on the southern border, is noted for its beautiful scenery and is much visited by tourists. The soil is light and sandy. Watson,2 (p.o.,) situated on Black River, in the western part of the town, is a hamlet. The early settlers located along the river, and settlements were not made in the interior until about 1815.3 The first church (M. E.) was organized in 1820. There are 3 churches and 1 church edifice (M. E.) in town.4

1Named from James Watson, of N. Y., former proprietor.
2Among the first settlers were Eliphalet Edmonds, Isaac and Jabes Puffer, Jonathan Bishop, David Durfy, Ozem (?) Bush, J. Beach, and R. Stone.
3A bridge was built across the river near this place in 1828. It has recently been rebuilt at the joint expense of the State and town.
4Bap., Seventh Day Bap., and M. E.

WEST TURIN -- was formed from Turin, March 25, 1830. Osceola was taken off in 1844, Montague in 1850, and High Market and a part of Lewis in 1852. It lies upon the west bank of Black River, south of the center of the county. Its inclination is toward the east, its surface rising by successive terraces from the intervale of Black River to the hills 800 feet above. Its streams are Sugar River, which flows easterly through near the center of the town, and numerous smaller creeks and brooks. Lyons Falls, upon Black River, plunge over a ledge of gneiss rock 63 feet in height, at an angle of about 60o.1 These falls form an excellent water power but little used. The soil is a deep, fertile loam upon the river valley, and a slaty loam upon the western hills. Constableville2 (p.v.) is satuated upon Sugar River, at the foot of the Slate Hills, near the center of the town. Pop. 472. Collinsville,3 (p.v.,) in the eastern part of the town, contains 2 churches and a population of about 200. Lyons Falls, 4 (p.o.,) on Black River, is a hamlet. The first settlement was made at Constableville, in 1796, by Nathaniel Shaler.5 There are 9 churches in town.6

1Formerly called, "High Falls." The rock has been but slightly worn; but the iron which enters into its composition has gradually dissolved, and the precipitous banks at and below the falls are so colored by it that they seem to have been painted by art; hence they are called the "Pictured Rocks."
2Named from Wm. Constable, son of the original proprietor.
3Names from Homer Collins.
4Named from Caleb Lyon, first resident and proprietor of the Brantingham Tract.
5Among the early settlers were Jas. and Seth Miller, E. Crofoot, W. Hubbard, John Ives, Levi Hough, H. Scranton, Willard Allen, Horatio G. Hough, J. Rockwell, and Jonathan Collins. Ex Bishop L. S. Ives is a son of Levi Ives, formerly of this town.
6Union, 3 R. C., 2 M. E., and Prot. E.

NOTE: Charts, which appeared in the Towns Portion, have not been reproduced here. Those charts consist of statistical data: Acreage of land, valuations in 1858, population, number of schools, live stock, and agriculutral products.

Source: J. H. French. Gazetteer of the State of New York. Syracuse: R. Pearsall Smith, 1860.

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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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