Cortland County New York Genealogy and History
County seat: Cortland
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Cortland County History
Located in the glaciated Appalachian Plateau area of Central New York, midway between Syracuse and Binghamton, this predominantly rural county is the southeastern gateway to the Finger Lakes Region. Scattered archaeological evidence indicates the Iroquois also known as the Haudenosaunee controlled the area beginning about AD 1500.
What was to become Cortland County remained within Indian territory until the American Revolution. It became part of the Military Tract, when, in 1781, more than 1╝ million acres (5,100 km▓) were set aside by the State's Legislature to compensate two regiments formed to protect the State's western section from the English and their Iroquois allies, at the close of the Revolution. To encourage settlement in the upstate isolated wilderness, the State constructed a road from Oxford through Cortland County to Cayuga Lake in 1792-94. This, and construction of privately financed roads, were the major impetus to settlement.
When counties were established in New York in 1683, the present Cortland County was part of Albany County, which encompassed the northern part of New York and all of the present State of Vermont, as well as indeterminate territory to west. On March 12, 1772, present day Cortland County became part of Tryon County, named for William Tryon, colonial governor of New York. In 1784, following the peace treaty that ended the American Revolutionary War, the name of the county was changed to honor General Richard Montgomery, who had captured several places in Canada and died attempting to capture the city of Quebec, thus replacing the name of the locally unpopular British governor. Present day Cortland County became part of Herkimer County in 1791, then became a part of Onondaga County when it split from Herkimer in 1794. Cortland County was formed by the splitting of Onondaga County in 1808.
Settlement of the county
Eastern New Yorkers and New Englanders, wanting new land to farm, welcomed the opening of this frontier. The first white settlement in the county was made in 1791 by Amos Todd, Joseph Beebe and Rhoda Todd Beebe, emigrants from Connecticut who paddled up the Tioughnioga River from Windsor, to live near the head of navigation in the Town of Homer. Following them came a flood of settlers who, in 1808, petitioned the State Legislature for county status. Thus, Cortland County was created from the southern half of Onondaga County as part of the Boston Ten Towns on April 8, 1808, and was named in honor of the Pierre Van Cortlandt family - Pierre, Sr. having been the first lieutenant governor of the state.
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Genealogy Research in Cortland County, New York
Cortland County Clerk
46 Greenbush Street, Suite 105
Cortland, N.Y. 13045
Phone: (607) 753-5021
- Onondaga County - north
- Madison County - northeast
- Chenango County - east
- Broome County - south
- Tompkins County - west
- Tioga County - southwest
- Cayuga County - northwest