HISTORY OF

SARATOGA COUNTY, NEW YORK.

by NATHANIEL BARTLETT SYLVESTER

1878

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CHAPTER II.

EXTENT - ORIGINAL COUNTIES - CIVIL DIVISIONS.

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I. - BOUNDARIES.

The county of Saratoga is centrally distant thirty-one miles from the capitol at Albany. It is bounded on the north by Warren county; on the east by the counties of Warren, Washington, and Rensselaer; on the south by the counties of Albany and Schenectady, and on the west by the counties of Schenectady, Montgomery, Fulton, and Hamilton.

The county of Saratoga is situated between latitude 42 47' and 43 22' north, and longitude 2 47' and 3 20' east from Washington. Its extreme length from north to south is about 43 miles, and its greatest width from east to west is about 28 miles. It contains 862 square miles or 551,680 acres.

Of this, according to the State census of 1875, 317,201 acres are improved land, and 148,218 acres unimproved; there being of the latter 89,192 acres of woodland. This enumeration by the census-takers leaves a remainder of 96,261 acres to be accounted for, doubtless mostly represented by the waste, non-resident lands of the northern part of the county lying within the boundaries of the Adirondack wilderness. The total population of the county in 1875 was 55,137.

In the "Revised Statutes of the State" this county is described and its boundary lines defined as follows, to wit:

"The county of Saratoga { See Sec. 2, Title I., Chap. ii, Part I., N.Y. Rev. Stat.} shall contain all that part of this State bounded, northerly, by the county of Warren; easterly, by the counties of Rensselaer, Washington, and Warren; southerly, by a line beginning at a point in the middle of Hudson's river opposite to the middle of the most northerly branch of the Mohawk river, and running thence through the middle of said northerly branch and of the Mohawk river, westerly to the east bounds of the county of Schenectady; then along the easterly and northerly bounds of the said county of Schenectady to the northwest corner of said county; then north one degree and twenty-five minutes west along a line heretofore established, drawn from a point on the Mohawk river at the northeast corner of the tract, granted to George Ingolsby and others, to the southwest corner of the county of Warren."

The line above described as "a line heretofore established, drawn from a point on the Mohawk river," and as running "north one degree and twenty-five minutes west," is interesting to the student of history as being what is known as the "old Tryon county line."

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II. - THE FORMATION OF ORIGINAL COUNTIES.

From the time of the first division of the State into counties, under Charles II., on the 1st day of November, in the year 1683, until the 24th day of March, 1772, all the territory lying northerly and westerly of what was then the county of Ulster was included in the county of Albany. On the 24th day of March, 1772, the vast county of Albany was divided, and two new counties set off, namely, the counties of Tryon and Charlotte.

The county of Tryon included all that part of the State lying westerly of the aforesaid "established line," which ran from the Mohawk, as above set forth, to the Canada line, at a point near the present Indian village of St. Regis. Tryon county was thus nearly two hundred miles wide on its eastern border, and stretched out westward two hundred and seventy miles to the shores of Lake Erie. The shire-town of Tryon county was Johnstown, near the Mohawk, the residence of Sir William Johnson, Bart. It was named in honor of William Tryon, the last colonial governor of the State.

The county of Charlotte, scarcely less in size than Tryon county, included within its boundaries all the northern part of the State that lay easterly of the "Tryon county line," and northerly of the present county of Saratoga and the Batterskill in Washington county. Charlotte county also included the westerly half of what is now the State of Vermont, and was then the disputed territory known as the New Hampshire grants. The easterly half of Vermont, lying west of the Connecticut river, also claimed by New York, and since forming part of Albany county, was set off into two counties, - Cumberland, in 1766, and Gloucester, 1770.

Charlotte county was so named in honor of the Princess Charlotte, daughter of George III., or, as some say, of the Queen Consort Charlotte, of Mecklenburg Strelitz.

The county-seat of Charlotte county was Fort Edward. The first court was held in that village on the 19th of October, 1773, by Judge William Duer. The first clerk of the court was Daniel McCrea, a brother of Jennie McCrea, whose tragic death soon after occurred near where the court sat.

On the 2d day of April, 1784, the legislature of the then new State of New York passed an act by which it was ordained that:

"From and after the passing of this act, the county of TRYON shall be called and known by the name of Montgomery, and the county of CHARLOTTE by the name of Washington."

"Thus these two counties," says Judge Gibson, in his "Bench and Bar of Washington County," "organized originally by one legislative act, and simultaneously named in compliment to royalty and its satellite by a subsequent legislative act, after passing through a sea of fire and famine and desolation and war, were simultaneously born again in a baptism of blood, and one of them named after the greatest of its slaughtered heroes on the battle-field, MONTGOMERY, and the other after the most distinguished of its living survivors, the immortal WASHINGTON."

It will thus be seen that what is now the county of Saratoga was not set off in the division of the 24th of March, 1772, but constituted and remained a part of Albany county until the 7th day of February, 1791, when Albany county was again divided, being reduced to its present limits, and the counties of Rensselaer and Saratoga set off.

Besides the county of Albany there are nine other original counties in what is now the State of New York, namely, the counties of Duchess, King's, New York, Orange, Queen's, Richmond, Suffolk, Ulster, and Westchester.

These ten original counties were all formed on the 1st day of November, 1683, by order of the Duke of York, then the sole proprietor of the provinces, and who ascended the throne of England on the 6th of February, 1685, as James II., of unfortunate memory. These counties were all named after James and his near relatives.

Thus, the counties of New York and Albany were so called in honor of his two titles of the Duke of York, in England, and Duke of Albany, in Scotland.

The counties of King's and Queen's (now Kings and Queens without the possessive) were named in honor of the Duke's royal brother, then King Charles II., and his wife, Catharine of Braganza.

Duchess (now Dutchess), containing also what are now Columbia and Putnam counties, complimented James' wife, Mary Hyde, Duchess of York.

Suffolk county was named after King Charles, in whom was then vested the title of Duke of Suffolk. This title was lost by Charles Grey, father of Lady Jane Grey, in consequence of her rebellion.

Richmond county was named in honor of Charles Lenox, Duke of Richmond, a natural son of Charles II., by a French woman, Louise de Querouaille. The royal dukedom of Richmond had descended from the brother of Henry Stuart, the father of James I., of England, and had become extinct on the death of James Stuart, son of the first cousin of Charles I. It was then conferred by Charles II. upon the son of his favorite mistress above named, the ancestor of the present family of Richmond.

Orange county, then including Rockland county and all of the present county of Orange lying south of a line running west from the mouth of Murderer's creek, was called in honor of William, Prince of Orange, and his wife, Mary of England, the daughter of James, who, with her husband, ascended the throne of England as William and Mary.

In 1683 the younger brother of King Charles had the Irish title of the Duke of Ulster, and Ulster county was named in his honor. The county has since been divided, and from it taken the counties of Sullivan, Greene, and Delaware, and the northern part of Orange. On the death of the last Earl of Chester, the most important of the peerages of the old Norman kings, the title became merged in the crown, but was always conferred upon the Prince of Wales. As Charles II. had no legitimate son, he himself retained the title, and it was also in his honor that the county of Westchester received its name.

But at the time of the division of Nov. 1, 1863, there were two other counties made out of what was then considered the duke's province of New York, viz., the counties of Duke's and Cornwall, and where are they? The title of Duke of Cornwall also remains with the crown of England when there is no Prince of Wales to hold it, and the islands on the sea-coast of Maine being claimed by James, were erected into the county of Cornwall. Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket islands, also claimed by him, were set off as Duke's county. But Massachusetts, having the possession of all these islands, refused to give them up. James therefore yielded his claims, and Cornwall and Duke's became the lost counties of New York.

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III. - CIVIL DIVISIONS OF SARATOGA COUNTY.

At the time of the division of the county of Albany, and the formation of Tryon and Charlotte counties, on the 24th day of March, 1772, the part still remaining in Albany county, now constituting the county of Saratoga, was divided into two districts, the "District of SARAGHTOGA" and the "District of HALF-MOON."

The district of Half-Moon embraced the present towns of Waterford, Half-Moon, and Clifton Park.

The district of Saraghtoga then contained all the remaining north part of the county, embracing the territory now divided into seventeen towns.

On the 1st day of April, 1775, another district was carved out of the district of Saraghtoga, and named the "District of BALLS-TOWN."

This new district of Balls-Town then included the present towns of Ballston, Milton, Charlton, Galway, Providence, Edinburgh, and part of Greenfield.

What is now Saratoga County remained thus divided into three districts until after the War of the Revolution.

On the 7th day of March, 1788, three years before Saratoga County was set off, the name "district" was dropped, and Balls-Town, Half-Moon, Saraghtoga, and STILLWATER were organized as towns of Albany county; and when Saratoga County was formed, on the 7th day of February, 1791, these towns, BALLS-TOWN, HALF-MOON, SARAGHTOGA, and STILLWATER, still remained, forming the four mother towns of Saratoga County. The town of Stillwater was originally taken off from the Saraghtoga District, and when erected included the present town of Stillwater, a part of Easton, in Washington county, and all but the north part of the town of Malta.

From these four "mother towns" of Saratoga County other towns have been from time to time set off and subdivided, until the county contained its present number of twenty towns, as follows, viz.:

CHARLTON, MILTON, and GALWAY were all formed from Balls-Town on the 17th of March, 1792, and the line of Charlton changed in 1795.

GREENFIELD was taken from Saratoga and Milton, on the 12th of March, 1793, having first been called Fairfield.

PROVIDENCE was taken from Galway on the 5th day of February, 1796.

NORTHUMBERLAND was formed from Saratoga, on the 16th of March, 1798.

EDINBURGH, as Northfield, was taken from Providence on the 13th of March, 1801, and its present name given April 6, 1808.

HADLEY was formed from Greenfield and Northumberland, on the 27th of February, 1801.

MALTA Was taken from Stillwater on the 3d day of March, 1802, and that part of Saratoga lying south of the Kayadrossera creek annexed March 28, 1805.

MOREAU was taken from Northumberland, on the 28th of March, 1805.

WATERFORD was formed from Half-Moon, on the 17th of April, 1816.

HALF-MOON was changed to Orange on the 17th of April, 1816, but the original name was restored on the 16th of January, 1820.

WILTON was taken from Northumberland, on the 20th of April, 1818.

CORINTH was taken from Hadley, April 20, 1818.

SARATOGA SPRINGS Was set Off from Saratoga on the 9th of April, 1819.

DAY, as Concord, was formed from Edinburgh and Hadley, and its present name adopted, December 3, 1827.

CLIFTON PARK, as Clifton, was formed from Half-Moon, March 3, 1828, and its present name given March 31, 1829.

In the following pages, after devoting several chapters to the general history of the county of Saratoga, from its earliest exploration by white men, in 1609, to the present time, each of the several towns will be taken up in their order, and, so far as it has been possible in the necessarily limited space allowed, a history of each will be given.

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