Historical Facts of New York Counties

New York County records can vary vastly from county to county in both quality and also quantity. Some have already been carefully maintained while others have been substantially misused and uncared for. A number of New York records have merely vanished. For genealogists performing research in New York there’s no effective substitute to have an on-site research of county court house records. For Definitions of all court terms see the Genealogy Encyclopedia

New York is divided into 62  counties. Each county serves as the local level of government within its borders. The original twelve counties were created immediately after the British takeover of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, although two of these counties have since been abolished. Five of New York’s counties are coterminous with the five boroughs of New York City and do not have functioning county governments, except for a few borough officials. New York City is considered the county seat of these five counties: New York County (Manhattan), Kings County (Brooklyn), Bronx County (The Bronx), Richmond County (Staten Island), and Queens County (Queens).  New York State Government is located in Albany.

New York Counties

Some New York counties have set up record centers or archives such as are found in Broome, Cayuga, Montgomery, Ontario, 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 county pages in New York listed below contain the name of the county and the mailing address of the county clerk, who is in charge of deeds, mortgages, marriages (1908–35), divorces, court records, state censuses, and other records is listed, the year the county was created, where applicable, the parent county or counties from which it was formed, the date the earliest deed was recorded is also listed. County deeds and mortgages not found with the county clerk are also indicated here. 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.

The links in the table below link to county and city government offices and is limited to government-maintained websites. If you know of a New York county that has an official government web site but is not linked, or if the link is in error, please contact us so we may edit our database.

County Date Formed Parent County County Seat
Albany November 01, 1683 Original County created in the New York colony Albany
Allegany April 07, 1806 Genesee County Belmont
Bronx 1914 New York County New York City
Broome March 28, 1806 Tioga County Binghamton
Cattaraugus March 11, 1808 Genesee County Little Valley
Cayuga March 08, 1799 Onondaga County Auburn
Chautauqua March 11, 1808 Genesee County Mayville
Chemung March 29, 1836 Tioga County Elmira
Chenango March 15, 1798 Tioga and Herkimer Counties Norwich
Clinton March 07, 1788 Washington County Plattsburgh
Columbia April 04, 1786 Albany County Hudson
Cortland April 08, 1808 Onondaga County Cortland
Delaware March 10, 1797 Otsego and Ulster Counties Delhi
Dutchess November 01, 1683 Original County created in the New York colony Poughkeepsie
Erie April 02, 1821 Niagara County Buffalo
Essex March 01, 1799 Clinton County Elizabethtown
Franklin March 11, 1808 Clinton County Malone
Fulton April 18, 1838 Montgomery County Johnstown
Genesee March 30, 1802 Ontario County Batavia
Greene March 30, 1802 Albany and Ulster Counties Catskill
Hamilton February 21, 1816 Montgomery County Lake Pleasant
Herkimer February 16, 1719 Montgomery County Herkimer
Jefferson March 28, 1805 Oneida County Watertown
Kings November 01, 1683 Original County created in the New York colony New York City
Lewis March 28, 1805 Oneida County Lowville
Livingston February 23, 1821 Genesee and Ontario Counties Geneseo
Madison March 21, 1806 Chenango County Wampsville
Monroe February 23, 1821 Genesee and Ontario Counties Rochester
Montgomery March 12, 1772 Albany County Fonda
Nassau 1899 Queens County Mineola
New York 1683 Original County created in the New York colony New York City
Niagara March 11, 1808 Genesee County Lockport
Oneida March 15, 1798 Herkimer County Utica
Onondaga March 05, 1794 Herkimer County Syracuse
Ontario January 27, 1789 Montgomery County Canandaigua
Orange November 01, 1683 Original County created in the New York colony Goshen
Orleans November 11, 1824 Genesee County Albion
Oswego March 01, 1816 Oneida and Onondaga Counties Oswego
Otsego February 16, 1791 Montgomery County Cooperstown
Putnam June 12, 1812 Dutchess County Carmel
Queens November 01, 1683 Original County created in the New York colony New York City
Rensselaer February 07, 1791 Albany County Troy
Richmond November 01, 1683 Original County created in the New York colony New York City
Rockland February 23, 1798 Orange County New City
St Lawrence March 03, 1805 Clinton, Herkimer and Montgomery Counties Canton
Saratoga February 07, 1791 Albany County Ballston Spa
Schenectady March 07, 1809 Albany County Schenectady
Schoharie April 06, 1795 Albany and Otsego Counties Schoharie
Schuyler April 17, 1854 Chemung, Steuben and Tompkins Counties Watkins Glen
Seneca February 16, 1791 Cayuga County Ovid / Waterloo
Steuben March 12, 1772 Ontario County Bath
Suffolk November 01, 1683 Original County created in the New York colony Riverhead
Sullivan March 27, 1809 Ulster County Monticello
Tioga February 16, 1791 Montgomery County Owego
Tompkins April 17, 1817 Cayuga and Seneca Counties Ithaca
Ulster November 01, 1683 Original County created in the New York colony Kingston
Warren March 12, 1813 Washington County Queensbury
Washington April 02, 1784 Albany County Fort Edward
Wayne April 11, 1823 Ontario and Seneca Counties Lyons
Westchester November 01, 1683 Original County created in the New York colony White Plains
Wyoming May 14, 1841 Genesee County Warsaw
Yates February 05, 1823 Ontario and Steuben Counties Penn Yan


Interactive Map of New York Counties Formation

(New York maps made with the use AniMap Plus 3.0 & with the Permission of the Goldbug Company)

New York Extinct Counties

New York contains counties that no longer are in existence. They were set up by the state, provincial, or territorial governing administration. Many of these counties were established and disbanded in the Nineteenth century; county borders have evolved little since 1900 in the vast majority of states. These counties need to be looked at when you are conducting genealogy and family history research. Pay attention where the courthouse records went to if the county was eliminated or combined with another county.

  • Charlotte County: Formed in 1772 from Albany County, Renamed in 1784 to Washington County
  • Cornwall County: Formed in 1683, Located in Maine, this county became part of Massachusetts in 1686, but no longer exist in name.
  • Cumberland County: Formed in 1766 from Albany County, disallowed the year after it was formed, Cumberland was re-established in 1768 and ceased to exist 1777-78 when Vermont declared itself a republic.
  • Dukes County: Formed in 1683, became part of Massachusetts in 1692
  • Gloucester County: Formed in 1770 from Cumberland County, ceased to exist 1777-78 when Vermont declared itself a republic.
  • Tryon County: Formed in 1772 from Albany County, Renamed in 1784 to Montgomery County

New York Counties with Burned Courthouses

The harm to New York courthouses tremendously has a effect on genealogists in every way. Not only are these types of historic structures torn from all of our lifetimes, so are the records they kept: marriage, wills, probate, land records, as well as others. Once destroyed they’re lost permanently. Even though they have been placed on mircofilm, computers and film burn too. The most sad aspect of this is the reason why virtually all of our courthouses are destroyed as a result of arsonist. However, don’t assume all records were destroyed. Numerous New York counties have suffered a loss of records due to courthouse fires, floods, and theft.

  • Niagara County Courthouse: In 1813 the British burned the courthouse in Buffalo, destroying records that also included Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties.
  • Schoharie  County Courthouse: County Courthouse burned to the ground in 1845 when a prisoner tried to escape.
  • Sullivan  County Courthouse: A fire in 1909 destroyed will volumes 1-7 but all or most of the files survived.