Cortland County,
New York
1825 Census


The abstract of the 1825 New York State census of Cortland County was made by various members of the Central New York Genealogical Society over a period of years. Their abstract has been supplemented by additions from an abstract made by members of the Cortland County Historical Society for which our Society acknowledges its debt of gratitude. We recognize the uneveness of the abstract presented here and heartily recommend reference by the serious researcher to microfilm of the original census schedules, available at the New York State Library and from the Latter Day Saints branch libraries. (The original manuscript copy is in the custody of the Cortland County Clerk, in a secure location, being protected from the vandalism it suffered when on the open shelves of the county clerk's office.)


"[Cortland County] was established from Onondaga 8 April 1808, and embraces the original townships of Virgil, Cincinnatus, Homer, Solon, and the south half of Tully and Fabius in the s.e. corner of the Military Tract. It was named in honor of Pierre Van Cortlandt first Lieut. Gov. of the State of N.Y. It lies near the center of the State, upon the northern spurs of the Allegany Mts., and just s. of the watershed between the Susquehana and Lake Ontario . " 1

Development of the area was slow, according to J.H. French, because of the fear of Indian massacre, the depredations of wild beasts on the "little flocks and herds of pioneers," and the long, weary forest roads to mills and markets. At the taking of the 1800 federal census, Cortland's population had not yet reached 1000, while that of the contiguous counties of Broome and Tioga were more than double that figure and Cayuga, Chenango, and Onondaga counties had population six to ten times greater. By 1825 the population had grown to a modest 20,271.

This county provides an example of the recurring division of towns in New York State in the 19th century. Between 1808 and 1858:
Preble became Scott and Preble
Truxton became Cuyler and Truxton
Homer became Solon, Cortlandville, and Homer
Solon became Taylor and Solon
Virgil became Harford, Lapeer, and Virgil
Cincinnatus became Freetown, Harrison (later Marathon), Willet, and Cincinnatus

In her introduction to the abstract of the 1820 census of the county, Shirley G. Heppell gives a caution to researchers about residence and record searching. "A complicated situation involves an 1810 resident in Cortland.

Legally he resided in Homer until 1829 when the town was divided. The southern half of Homer became Cortlandville. In 1853 Cortland Village [in Cortlandville] was incorporated and began its own political record keeping. "2

The maps , by Robert V. Moyer, accompanying this abstract, will show the changes in town and county lines and the effective dates of the changes as well as the dates of passage of laws mandating the changes. He carefully shows the length of time required before the law was completely implemented, often extending over a number of years. Mr. Moyer records the changes in town names as well. Especially pertinent to the reading of this 1825 State census is the name of the Town of Harrison, changed before the taking of the 1830 federal census to Marathon.

Three other censuses of Cortland County have been made available to researchers:

(1) A substitute for the 1810 census, the first federal census of the county, for which no surviving schedules have been found, was prepared by Mary Louise Dexter, Shirley G.Heppell, and Carolyn T. Ibbotson, using land, surrogate, church, school, civic, and cemetery records.

(2) An abstract of the 1820 federal census, mentioned above.

(3) An index, on microfilm, to the 1855 New York State census. The abstract printed in this issue is for a census mandated by New York State rather than the federal government. It will serve as a bridge between the 1820 and 1830 federal censuses. In addition it provides types of information about Cortland County families which can not be found in either of those federal censuses.


"An act to provide for taking future enumerations of the inhabitants of this state, and for procuring useful statistical tables" was passed April 8, 1825. [Laws of New York. 48th Session. Chap. C] Marshalls were to be given blank returns for their use by July 15 and were to file their returns with the county clerk on or before December 1.

The census of "every person whose usual abode was in any family on the first day of July" 1825 was to be returned as of that family, even if the person was occasionally absent. Marshalls were to "make actual inquiry at every dwelling house, or of the head of every family."

Each county clerk was to make and forward to the secretary of state an abstract under his hand and the seal of the county. The secretary of state was then to report the results of the enumeration to the legislature. The Act specified precisely the items to be inquired after.


The 1825 state census provides information of relevance to historians and genealogists which is unique to this census and much data not available in other censuses until a much later date. It thus supplements, and in only a very few minor instances duplicates data in the 1820 and 1830 federal censuses. Data unique to this census include the number of male and female family members who were born or died in the census year; the number of marriages of female family members within the year and number of married and unmarried females in the family in three age categories; males eligible for militia service and males qualified to vote; the number of persons of colour in three categories; the number of aliens in the family; and the number of paupers in the family.

In the abstract presented here, data are reported from the first sixteen categories given on the census schedules, which include eighteen items of data. These are the categories which provide information about persons.

Using the information given here, researchers may wish to secure the remaining data provided on the 1825 census schedules, if a particular family is of interest to them. The succeeding twenty categories on the schedules (columns 17 to 36) will provide statistics that give a picture of the economic status of the family: how many acres of improved land each person occupied; how many head of neat cattle, how many horses, sheep, or hogs each family owned; how many yards of flannel, linen, cotton cloth, etc., were made "in the domestic way" in the family; and whether they were owners of certain types of machinery or of a certain kind of mill, of an iron works, distillery, ashery, or cotton and woolen factories.


Please note that no information is presented in this abstract about residents of the Town of Homer or of the Town of Solon. No census returns for those towns have been found in the office of the county clerk, the state library, or the state archives. No schedules are known to be extant. Any information about any remains of either set of schedules would be most welcome by either the Central New York Genealogical Society or the Cortland County Historical Society.

Some Helpful Sources

"An Act to provide for taking a Census, and for other purposes. Passed March 16, 1821." Laws of New York. Forty-Fourth Session. Chapter CX. "

An Act to provide for taking future Enumerations of the Inhabitants of this State, and for procuring useful Statistical Tables. Passed April 8, 1825." Laws of New York. Forty-Eighth Session. Chapter C.

Brewer, Mary Marie. Index to Census Schedules in Printed Form; Those Available and Where to Find Them. Huntsville, Ark.: Century Enterprises, Genealogical Services, 1969.

Residents of Cortland County 1800-1810. Mary Louise Dexter, Shirley G. Heppell, and Carolyn T. Ibbotson.

Cortland County Federal Census 1820. Central New York Genealogical Society, 1980.

Cortland County New York State Census Abstract 1825.

Central New York Genealogical Society, 1985.

Cortland County - Index to the 1855 Census. (microfilm; 2 rolls)

Douglas, Marilyn and Melinda Yates, comps. New York State Census Records, 1790-1925, New York State Library Bibliography Bulletin 88 (Albany: The Library, 1981).

Dubester, Henry J. State Censuses: an Annotated Bibliography of Censuses of Population Taken After the Year 1790 by States and Territories of the United States. Knightstown, Ind.: Bookmark, 1980. (Original 1948)

Eisenberg, Marcia, camp., "Inventory of New York State Census Records, 1825-1925," in Tree Talks, March, June, September 1983.

French, J.H. Gazeteer of the State of New York. 1860.

Heppell, Shirley G., "Cortland County and Its Towns," in Tree Talks, December 1980.

Hough, Franklin B. Census of the State of New York for 1855. Albany, 1857. History of the Census in New York and Plan Proposed for the State Census of 1865. Albany: Munsell, 1866.

Jacobsen, Edna L. New York State and Federal Census Records: An Inventory, New York State Library Bibliography Bulletin 81, (Albany: University of the State of New York, 1957).

Moyer, Robert V., "Sources of New York State Genealogical Records," in Tree Talks, December 1972. "Towns Formed from Tioga County," in Tree Talks, December 1977.

New York Laws, 1808, Chapter 194. (Erection of Cortland County)

Marcia J. Eisenberg

1. French, J.H. Gazetteer of the State of New York. Syracue: R. Pearsall Smith, 1860, pp. 250-51.
2. Heppell, Shirley G . "Cortland County and Its Towns , " Tree Talks (December 1980, p.i. ) .

If you have any suggestions, please e-mail Tim Stowell

Created on or before 24 February 1998

LAST UPDATED: Saturday, 21-May-2011 14:00:00 MDT

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