New York Books - Niagara County
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New York - Niagara County

Click on these titles to check out books on this county.
A History of Niagara County, New York
Robert D. Kostoff
Protecting Niagara: A History of the Niagara County Sheriff's Office
Christopher, J. Carlin
Imagining Niagara: The Meaning and Making of Niagara Falls
Patrick V. McGreevy
In the Mad Water: Two Centuries of Adventure and Lunacy at Niagara Falls

T. W. Kriner
The New Niagara: Tourism, Technology, and the Landscape of Niagara Falls, 1776-1917

William Irwin
Niagara: A History of the Falls

Pierre Berton
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Other County Resources

Books on County Genealogy and History

Lockport (county seat) Website

Map of Niagara Co. (1895)

More Niagara County Resource Links

Niagara Co. Genealogical Society

Niagara Co. Historical Society

Niagara Falls Vacation Guide

Official Niagara Co. Website

Official NY State Website

Usually the history of a county is largely only of local interest, but Niagara has much that is worthy of attention by the State, and even nations. Its location in the extreme northwest corner of New York makes its western boundary line the dividing one between this country and Canada. The Niagara River, separating two nations, while only 36 miles long, is the site of one of the most wonderful natural spectacles of the earth, and at one time was the site of the greatest hydro-electrical power developments in the world. Here, too, it was that the French and English fought for the control of the western continent, and only along the frontier of Niagara County was there a continuous warfare waged throughout the War of 1812. And it was said, in the days of World War I that "if the Kaiser had owned Niagara, he could have won that war."

Niagara was established as a county from Genesee, including the present Erie County, March 11, 1808, with the county seat at Buffalo. As now constituted, it was formed April 2, 1821, when Erie County became a separate entity. Much that is of historic interest occurred before even the latter date. Six years after the settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, and the same length of time after Hudson discovered the river that bears his name, two years later than the erection of a few huts on the island of Manhattan, and five years before the Pilgrim Fathers landed on Plymouth Rock, the first white man, Etienne Brule, came to the Niagara region. He had been sent there to gain the aid of certain Indians against the Iroquois. He did not see the Falls, however; even the priest who came into this country in 1626, and the Jesuit Fathers who followed in 1640, failed to find the natural wonder. Many of the French had learned of the great Falls from the Indians, and their position mapped as early as 1612 from these descriptions, but it was not until he who was to be the most frequent of Niagara's visitors of the olden time, La Salle, arrived in 1669 that this spectacle can be said to have been "discovered." This same Robert Cavalier de La Salle, in 1678, built the "Griffon," the first vessel to sail the "unsalted sea" of Erie, and become the "Father of our Lake Commerce."

Whoever discovered Niagara Falls, it seems to be established that Father Hennepin was the first to describe them in 1678, and for 250 years others have attempted to do this adequately, with only fair success. From the industrial point of view, here is a water power of from five to seven and a half millions of horse power per year, three quarters of which is on the Canadian side. Only a small portion of this might is utilized by the industrial plants on both sides of the river, but there is fear that still greater diversions of the water may, in the end, ruin the falls as a spectacle, but these seem unfounded. Secretary Hoover, however, in September, 1925, drew attention to the danger of the erosion of the softer stone, causing breaks in the surface rock, which might seriously impair its beauty.

Use was made of the falls nearly 200 years ago, and then abandoned for a century. There really was very little power utilized until 1895, when a power plant started furnishing electric power to a large reduction company. This latter company is now a maker of aluminum with three tremendous plants by the Falls, and is credited with being the greatest power user in the world. Since 1895 Niagara Falls has become the electro-chemical center of the United States, and this is but one of the many interests surrounding this district. A mere list of the products of this center would fill pages, and the part it played in supplying essential materials during the World War emphasized its importance not only to the United States, but to the world at large.

The county is more than the site of a great natural wonder, and the industrial center around it. Niagara, with an area of more than 300,000 acres, the most of which is arable, is one of the leading agricultural sections in the State, and as a fruit growing section is famous. There are probably few districts of like size with so many bearing apple trees, and for more than a half century it has been the leading apple producing county in the East. Peaches are grown in quantity in nearly all parts of the county, and most of the small fruits are produced in commercial quantities. As high as 3,000 carloads of produce have been shipped in one season; one station, Barker, shipping 1,700. The Niagara grape and peach originated in the county.

The division of Genesee County in 1808, known as Niagara County, was a comparatively unsettled wilderness up to a few years previous to that date. In 1799, a gentleman well acquainted with this part of the State, wrote a friend that "for sixty-five miles east of the Niagara River the country was a wilderness, there being a station at Big Plains to care for the chance visitor on his way to the Falls." "There are two or three huts and one framed house at Buffalo and two or three at Lewiston." The Indian title to the land had been extinguished, but the British still held Fort Niagara. Lewiston was founded in 1798, but existed mostly on paper for a number of years. Not until 1802 were the first American permanent settlements made in this region.

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

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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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