New York County Resources
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Since 1919 New York has had a system of local historians who are appointed to collect and preserve old records. While each county, town, and village should have a historian, not all vacancies are always filled, and of those that are, the knowledge and helpfulness in answering inquiries varies. In most cases it is best to start with the county historian, whose office may contain original or transcribed county, church, cemetery, newspaper, and other material, and in some cases, specialized indexes to these and other types of records. See Directory of New York State County and Municipal Historians (n.p., 1991), available for $20 from Directory, RFD #2, Box 228, Bath, NY 14810. A list of county historians can be found at www.tier.net/~aphnys/cohistorians.html.
Publication of town records is not widespread, with the exception of those for Queens (including Nassau), Suffolk, and Westchester counties. Various items from town records have been presented in Tree Talks (see Periodicals). See also Harold R. Nestler, A Bibliography of New York State Communities: Counties, Towns, Villages (Port Washington, N.Y.: Ira J. Friedman, 1968).
Some New York counties have set up record centers or archives such as are found in Broome, Cayuga, Montgomery, Ontario, Rockland, Ulster, Warren, Washington, Westchester, and other counties. While most initial inquiries about records should be made with the county clerk and county Surrogate’s clerk, the information sought might actually now be housed in a county records center/archives. This practice will doubtless continue in New York, especially for older records.
All the counties in New York, past and present, are listed below. The first column indicates the map coordinates. The name of the county and the mailing address of the county clerk, who is in charge of deeds, mortgages, copies of marriage records (1908–ca. 1935), divorces, court records, state censuses, and other records, is in the second column. The year the county was created follows and, where applicable, the parent county or counties from which it was formed. The date the earliest deed was recorded is in the fourth column. County deeds and mortgages not found with the county clerk are also indicated here. The last column shows the date of the earliest county Surrogate Court record, followed by the mailing address of the county Surrogate’s clerk, if not the same as that of the county clerk. Some counties have copies or abstracts of earlier deeds and wills from parent counties.
It should be kept in mind that the names of the parent county or counties are those from which the new county was first formed in the year indicated. Many changes took place later, at which times whole towns or parts of them were annexed to or from the newer county. For example, Yates County was created in 1823 from part of Ontario County; the following year, two towns were added to Yates from Steuben County. For the specifics of other changes, consult gazetteers, county directories, and county histories.
|Map||County||County Address||Date Formed||Parent County(ies)||Deeds||Surrogate's Court|
|Q15||Albany||16 Eagle St., Rm. 128, Albany 12207-1019||1683||original||1656||1787, 16 Eagle St., Albany 12207-1019|
|C4||Allegany||7 Court St., Belmont 14813-1039||1806||Genesee||1807||1807|
|H2||Bronx||851 Grand Concourse , Rm. 118, Bronx 10451-2937||1914||New York (Westchester)||1914*||1914, 851 Grand Concourse, Rm. 317|
|* At the City Register’s Office, 1932 Arthur Ave., Rm 301, Bronx 10457|
|S11||Broome||44 Hawley St./P.O. Box 2062, Binghamton 13902-2062||1806||Tioga||1806||1806, P.O. Box 1766, Binghamton 13901-1766|
|C3||Cattaraugus||303 Court St., Little Valley 14755-1028||1808||Genesee||1817||1817|
|Cattaraugus had no county government until 1817. Its records were first kept in Buffalo, but they were destroyed in 1813 when the British burned the courthouse. In 1812 Cattaraugus was annexed to Allegany County, and from 1814—17 county records for the eastern towns of Olean and Ischua were kept in Belmont and for the western town of Perry, in Buffalo.|
|Q10||Cayuga||160 Genesee St., Auburn 13021||1799||Onondaga||1799||1799, 153 Genesee St., Auburn 13021-3471|
|C1||Chautauqua||1 N. Erie St./P.O. Box 170, Mayville 14757-0170||1808||Genesee||1811||1811, 3 N. Erie St., Mayville 14757|
|Chautauqua was attached to Niagara County until 1811, but records kept in Buffalo were burned by the British in 1813.|
|S10||Chemung||210 Lake St. , P.O. Box 588, Elmira 14902-0588||1836||Tioga||1836||1836, 224 Lake St. , P.O. Box 588, Elmira 14902-0588|
|R12||Chenango||5 Court St., Norwich 13815||1798||Herkimer/Tioga||1798||1798|
|L16||Clinton||137 Margaret St., Plattsburgh 12901-2933||1788||Washington||1788||1790|
|R16||Columbia||560 Warren St., Hudson 12534||1786||Albany||1786||1787, 401 Union St., Hudson 12534|
|Located in Maine, this county was transferred to Massachusetts in 1686, but no longer exists in name. See Collections of the Maine Historical Society, first series, vol. 5 (1857).|
|Q11||Columbia||560 Warren St., Hudson 12534||1786||Albany||1786||1787, 401 Union St., Hudson 12534|