New York Books - Rensselaer County
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New York - Rensselaer County

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A Resourceful People: A Pictorial History of Rensselaer County, New York
Cast in Stone: Selected Albany, Rensselaer, and Saratoga County New York Burials
Kinship Publishing
Immigrant Son: Refusing to Grow Up

Harry Chinchinian
Worker City, Company Town: Iron and Cotton-Worker Protest in Troy and Cohoes, New York, 1855-84
Daniel J. Walkowitz
Ornamental Ironwork: Two Centuries of Craftsmanship in Albany and Troy
Diana S. Waite
Reminiscences of Troy, From its Settlement in 1790 to 1807 . . .
John Woodworth
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Other County Resources

Books on County Genealogy and History

Albany and Eastern New York Genealogy

History of Rensselaer Co. Cities and Towns

Indian History of the County

Map of Rensselaer Co. (1895)

Official NY State Website

Official Rensselaer Co. Website

Rensselaer Co. GenWeb Project

Rensselaer County Historical Society

Troy Visitors Center

On February 7, 1791, a subdivision of the original Albany County was made and given the name of one of the famous families of the New York state, Rensselaer. Located where the Adirondacks and the Berkshires meet, combining the beauty of both, without the ruggedness of either, at the great cross routes of New York, nature combined to make the region the seat of a great center of commerce and trade. It is the central county along the eastern border of the state. The western boundary rests on the Hudson River for a distance of nearly thirty-five miles. Back from the fertile valley of the river extends a much broken plateau with masses of verdure clad hills, numerous lakes, with the finest of agricultural area interspersed. Its area is about 663 square miles and its population, according to the census of 1920, was 113,129. It was the seventh most populous civil division of New York, while the value of its agricultural and industrial products ranks it even higher.

The Hudson was the route by which the explorer arrived, and a constantly used highway since. Man made another of these waterways to and from the west in the Barge Canal; its outlet being in this county. The Indian had his trails from the north and east through Rensselaer; their place is taken by the best of modern railroads and highways.

There is nothing surprising in the fact that possibly in no part of the United States did settlement begin so promptly after discovery. Some of Hudson's crew, won by the natural advantages of this region, persuaded Hollanders to send a vessel to trade the Dutch products for the Indians' possessions and furs. In 1610 a vessel came; in 1614 a license was granted to fur traders to make four trips in three years; and in that same year Hendrick Christiaensen removed the debris from the ruins of a French fort on Castle Island, erected in 1540, and established there a trading post. In five years from its discovery, and six years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, there was a settlement where grew the future Albany. In 1623, French Protestants in Amsterdam, known as Walloons, were ready to set sail for Virginia, but persuaded by the Dutch West India Company, they came to New York and eighteen families made their way up the Hudson and located in part on the land opposite Castle Island, forming the first settlement in Rensselaer County.

The greater part of the county was included in the patent of Killian Van Rensselaer, given November 19, 1629. The first purchase of the land from the Indians was completed on July 27, 1630. Van Rensselaer was a wealthy diamond and pearl dealer, and used his wealth in the endeavor to build for himself in the new country an almost feudal estate over which he would be the Lord Proprietor. The lands were settled only under lease, upon the same rules of tenure in force at Albany and other parts of the Hudson territory, and led to the same difficulties in the collection of rents.

The settlement of the county did not proceed without the hardships and dangers which troubled all the outlying districts of the State. In the French and Indian wars the northern part of the county was repeatedly ravaged and the pioneers driven from their homes. The Battle of Bennington, or Walloomsac, as it should be named, was fought in Rensselaer, and led to the defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga. In the Civil War the first troops from the north to tread the soil of Virginia were from this county, and it is said that no community, in proportion to its population, sent so many of its youth in the World War as did Troy, the principal city of Rensselaer.

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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