New York Books - Oswego County
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New York - Oswego County

Click on these titles to check out books on this county.
Landmarks of Oswego County
Judith Wellman, Ed.
North to the St. Lawrence
Marnie Reed Crowell
Oswego: Its People and Events
Anthony M. Slosek
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Other County Resources

Books on County Genealogy and History

City of Oswego
(County Seat)

Map of Oswego Co. (1895)

Official NY State Website

Official Oswego Co. Website

Oswego Co. GenWeb Project

Oswego Co. Underground Railroad

Safe Haven Jewish Refugees (1944)

"Oswego" means pouring out place, or the place where the St. Lawrence River pours out into Lake Ontario.

More than three centuries ago Samuel Champlain, with an army of Indians, came to the section which is now Oswego County and battled with the Six Nations, only to be routed. In 1654 Le Moyne, Jesuit priest, with fifty men, visited this same territory, and stayed for some years. Count Frontenac made it his military base in his fights with the Indians from 1690 to 1697. Such was the record of the French.

English traders located in the area in 1722, and two years later, planned, with the approval of Governor Burnet, to build a fort. This project, despite the remonstrances of the French, was carried out in 1727. The trading post became the center of control for the region; with permanent settlers, additional fortifications, it soon became a town of note. Its name was that of the river around which it was built, Oswego, from the Indian Oshwakee, "the flowing out of the waters."

When there was an agitation for a new county, and one was erected from Oneida and Onondaga on March 1, 1816, no more appropriate title for it could be found than that of the river and the main village. Strife came over the location of the shiretown, and the committee appointed to decide on the place begged the question by naming two county seats, Oswego and Pulaski. The county, with a population of only six or seven thousand, felt too poor to erect two courthouses, so for 45 years the business of the county was carried on in private houses, alternating, three years to each place.

Between the erection of the fort by the lake and the erection of the county, war had troubled the region. The increasing friction with the French caused preparations to be made for the conflict which must come. A massive fort (Ontario) was built on the east side of the Oswego River and another (Fort George) on the opposite heights. Vessels, the first built by the English, were launched on Lake Ontario the same year, 1755. With the next year hostilities opened. In August of 1756 General Montcalm captured the two forts, with 1,700 prisoners, and the whole area was razed, leaving Oswego a desolation.

During the Revolution there was much passing to and fro through the county, with some desperate engagements. It is a noteworthy fact that the last military movement of the Revolution was an attempt, by troops sent by General Washington, to retake the forts on Lake Ontario. Fort Ontario was the last frontier post to be surrendered by the English, July 15, 1796. This event was celebrated by the city of Oswego in 1896. The fort was partly torn down in 1903 and two years later replaced by a more modern structure.

The years succeeding the end of the Revolution saw the adjustment of land titles. With the Indian, French and English grants and sales, no title was worth much. Realizing that, after all, the Indian had the first and real right to the territory, in 1784 a treaty made with the "Six Nations" secured to them their possessions. Four years later a commission was appointed to purchase from the tribes their lands. Most of the county was ceded except small areas. In 1782 a tract running along the Oswego River was set aside for soldier bounties, and was so quickly snapped up by the New York soldiers entitled to it, that two days after issuing an advertisement for the claimants to appear, the commissioner distributed the land, July 5, 1790. The above is the account of the origin of the "Military tract" which comprised all the land west of the Oswego River.

Colonization began quickly after this distribution. The first white settler in the county was Oliver Stevens, who located at Fort Brewerton in 1789, and kept a tavern for the reception of the passing trader. At the close of the eighteenth century, there were many settlements scattered through the area. The principal ones were those at Redfield, Constantia, Mexico; a few folk resided at Oswego, and Union.

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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