New York Books - Otsego County
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Map of Otsego Co. (1895)

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Official Otsego Co. Website

Otsego Co. GenWeb Project

Otsego County is situated on the highlands at the headwaters of the Susquehanna River to the southeast of the center of the State. Its surface presents a great variety of hills, fertile valleys, hurrying streams and lovely lakes. Of the latter, Otsego is not only the largest, being eight miles long, but one known to a nation through the Leatherstocking tales of James Fenimore Cooper. The whole county is full of interest, historical and fictional; its highland beauty and salubrious climate can be enjoyed in half a hundred summer resorts. Dairying has been brought to a perfection not found often; and the multiplication of railroads and, in more recent years, of hard surfaced highways has made it accessible to all.

Three years after Henry Hudson came to Albany, eight years before the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth, two Dutch explorers came up the Mohawk from Albany, crossed the hills to Lake Otsego, and went down the valley of the Susquehanna. They were the first white men to visit this region. They filed a map of their travels at Amsterdam, Hoiland, where it was found only a few years ago. There may have been, must have been, travelers and traders who came into this country in the years before any attempt was made at settlement. But it was not until 1769 that surveyors came to establish lines of the grants made by the State to individuals. In 1768 such a grant had been made by George Clark, Lieutenant-Governor of the State, to John Lindsay, Jacob Roseboom, Lenelet Gansevoort, and Sybrant VanSchaick. This was at Cherry Valley, where the first of the pioneers of the county had located in 1739. As late as 1762 there were only 12 families in this settlement, but at the beginning of the Revolution, the number of settlers had risen to 300. In November, 1776, this Cherry Valley settlement was attacked by the Indians, causing the death of 48, and in 1780 a second massacre made the few remaining inhabitants flee, leaving the place deserted until after the end of the war.

These and other Indian attacks led to a punitive expedition by Sullivan in 1779. General Clinton, with 1,800 men, was to join him with the troops he had brought to Otsego Lake. Desiring to descend the Susquehanna in boats, and finding the river too low to be navigated, he dammed the lake, arranging his boats along the shores. When the lake had risen three feet, he tore out the dam and, on the escaping flood, sailed directly into the Indian country. The Indians, astonished at the sudden lowering of the river, and even more amazed by its sudden rise, upon whose crest came the white man's fleet, regarded it as a sign that the Great Spirit had gone to the aid of the enemy, and fled precipitately before the forces of the invader. The county, with its dozen remaining families in 1776, was a deserted wilderness within the next year or two.

The disasters, and the coming of the soldiery to avenge the disasters, proved to be a blessing in the end, for by these events was the country brought to the attention of hundreds to whom it was a terra incognita. Not only did the pioneers of the area return to their former homes, but they were joined by some of the thousands of the New Englanders and others who joined the great hegira that started shortly after the close of the Revolution.

By 1791 the region felt that it should have a separate government from Montgomery County and a more convenient place to which it might go on the county's business. In 1791 the county of Otsego was set up and Cooperstown, on Lake Otsego, was named as the shire village. Only two towns were organized at that time; Otsego, Iying to the west of the lake and the Susquehanna, and Cherry Valley as the remaining section. Before the end of the century eleven more civil divisions had been made, and during the next 54 years the number was brought up to 24.

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

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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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