Dutchess County New York Genealogy and History
County seat: Poughkeepsie
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Dutchess County History
Prior to Anglo-Dutch settlement, what is today Dutchess County was a leading center for the native Wappinger peoples. They had their council-fire at what is now present-day Fishkill Hook, and also held gatherings along the Danskammer. On November 1, 1683, the Province of New York established its first twelve counties, with Dutchess County being one of them. Its boundaries at that time included the present Putnam County, and a small portion of the present Columbia County (the towns of Clermont and Germantown). The county was named for Mary of Modena, Duchess of York, second wife of James, Duke of York (later James II, King of England). Dutchess is an archaic form of the word duchess.
The Province of New York and the Connecticut Colony negotiated an agreement on November 28, 1683, establishing their border as 20 miles (32 km) east of the Hudson River, north to Massachusetts. The 61,660 acres (249.5 km2) east of the Byram River making up the Connecticut Panhandle were granted to Connecticut, in recognition of the wishes of the residents. In exchange, Rye was granted to New York, along with a 1.81-mile (2.91 km) wide strip of land running north from Ridgefield to Massachusetts alongside the New York counties of Westchester, Putnam then Dutchess, known as "The Oblong". The eastern half of the stub of land in northeast Dutchess County containing Rudd Pond and Taconic State Park is the northernmost extension of The Oblong.
Until 1713, Dutchess was administered by Ulster County. On October 23, 1713 Queen Anne gave permission for Dutchess County to elect its own officers from among their own population including a Supervisor, Tax Collector, Tax Assessor and Treasurer. In 2013, Dutchess County celebrated its 300th anniversary of democracy based upon a legislative resolution sponsored by County Legislator Michael Kelsey from Salt Point. In 1812, Putnam County was detached from Dutchess.
From 1683 to 1715 most of the settlers in Dutchess County were Dutch. Many of these moved in from Albany and Ulster Counties. They settled along the Fishkill River and in the areas that are now Poughkeepsie and Rhinebeck.
From 1715 to 1730 most of the new settlers in Dutchess county were Germans. From 1730 until 1775 New Englanders were the main new settlers in Dutchess County.
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Genealogy Research in Dutchess County, New York
Dutchess County Clerk
22 Market Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Phone: (845) 486-2120
- Columbia County - north
- Berkshire County, Massachusetts - northeast
- Litchfield County, Connecticut - east
- Fairfield County, Connecticut - southeast
- Putnam County - south
- Orange County - southwest
- Ulster County - west