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The history of Madison County prior to its erection has been recounted under the chapter dealing with Chenango county, with which it was joined. The Madison region was relatively free from early Indian difficulties, for the aborigines received the first settlers as friends with whom they were glad to share their hunting grounds and lowland fields. Not until persuaded by white men that they were being mistreated did they join the former in raids upon their erstwhile friends. There was little attempt to settle this district until Revolutionary times and the Indian lands were then purchased by the authorities of the State, distributed to the soldiers, or sold to speculators who induced many to migrate and develop large areas which had hitherto been neglected or unknown.

Madison was a part of the great reserved Indian domain extending from its eastern boundaries indefinitely west. One of the first results of peace with England was the extinction of the Indian title to this great area. The county is on parts of three tracts surveyed from 1775 to 1795, known as the Military Tract, the Tuscarora Purchase and the Gore, a strip overlooked in the laying out of the lines of the first two. There are, of course, many minor divisions and patents in Madison to which even today land titles are traced.

Chenango County, set off from Herkimer and Tioga counties in 1798, included Madison, which became a separate division March 21, 1806. The latter was enlarged thirty years later by the annexation of part of the town of Stockbridge Iying east of Oneida Creek. It took its title from President James Madison. On its formation there were only five civil divisions: Brookfield, Cazenovia, DeRuyter, Hamilton and Sullivan towns. From the territory of these five have nine others been erected, five during the year following the organization of the county. The names and 1920 population of these towns are: Brookfield, 2,092; Cazenovia, 3,343; DeRuyter, 1,141; Eaton, 2,223; Fenner, 780; Georgetown, 854; Hamilton, 3,354; Lebanon, 940; Lenox, 5,536; Lincoln, 821; Madison, 1,629; Nelson, 1,099; Smithfield, 767; Stockbridge, 1,413; and Sullivan, 3,002.

The county is one of the central ones of the State, bounded on the north by Oneida County; on the east by Oneida and Otsego; on the south by Chenango; and on the west by Onondaga and Cortland counties. It has an area of 650 square miles and a population in 1920 of 39,535, being one of the few rural counties which has not lost population to any extent in the last fifty years. It has a great variety of surface from the swamp lands near Lake Oneida on the north to the rich vales in the south. The central part is on the water shed of many of the streams, some going north to the lake, while the others make their way to the Susquehanna. The land is not mountainous but generally elevated. The principal stream of Madison is the Chittenango, which not only flows through a region of marked beauty, but has hydraulic possibilities which have never been fully utilized, although the site of many ancient mills. In one of its, reaches of eight miles it descends 740 feet, one of the falls being 134 feet. Besides Oneida Lake, the county has a gem in Cazenovia, or as it is sometimes called, Owahgena Lake, which has become one of the best known summer resorts of the county.

The variety of surface has made for a variety of uses made of the land. The heavy forests of the pioneer days have well nigh disappeared, but in their place have come large cultivated areas producing most of the staples possible to the central section of New York. The grains, hay and milk now lead among the products, but this has, from the first, proven its fitness for apple growing which has taken a new lease on life during the last twenty-five years. Hops used to be a banner crop, but was finding the competition of the far west severe and was on the wane before the Volstead law gave it the fatal blow. Cheese and butter making was the main industry of Madison until it proved more profitable to ship the milk in the natural state or turn it over to condenseries. Change has taken place in the agricultural methods and crops, and it is well for the visitor to remember, when he is passing through some beautiful section, and sees what to him are waste fields, ruined mills and neglected farms, that it is due to no fault of the region, but rather to the advance or change which is inherent in any business which is vital and grows.

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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