Orange County, New York Genealogy and History

Orange County, New York, the picturesque, the magnificent, was chosen for an abiding place by the early pioneers because nature had here created a beautiful garden where man might live and reap rich rewards for his toil. Its lofty mountain chains, stand-in guard over rich, undulating plains, watered by many crystal streams, wending their way to the mighty Hudson, its charming valleys and vales, wooded hills and green meadow lands all appealed strongly to their sense of beauty and the desire for a life of independence, peace, contentment and happiness. And they chose wisely and well.

The County of Orange dates its existence by legal enactment from October 1st, 1691, in the third year of the reign of William and Mary and in the administration of Henry Slaughter, Esq., Governor of the Colony. Orange County derives its name from the fact that King William was a Prince of the House of Orange. The first Assembly, which convened in the year 1691, passed an act entitled “An Act to Divide the Provinces and Dependencies into Shires and Counties,” and Section of that act provided: “The County of Orange to begin from the limits or bounds, of East and West Jersey, on the Westside of Hudson’s River, along the said river to the Murderer’s Creek, or bounds of the County of Ulster; and westward into the woods as far as the Delaware River.” To this was added later the lands of Wagacheneck and Great and Little Minisink.

Local tradition records that the first settlements were made by Dutch pioneers along the Minisink River in the early days of Nieu Amsterdam, then an infant Dutch colony. Dates and historical facts are conflicting and vague regarding these early settlers who were few in number, but records in existence show that it was towards the close of the 17th century that active competition in obtaining patents in the district began. On December 30th, 1702, the Cheesecock Patent was granted. This was followed on March 5, 1703, by the Wawayanda Patent, and on August 28, 1704, by the Minisink Patent. Those patents, which were obtained by purchase from the Indian proprietors, covered extensive territories, the boundaries of which were described in such general terms and the lines so vague and undefined that for many years afterward there existed difficulties as to titles that brought about long years of litigation.

The first census of the county was taken in 1698 by order of Governor Bellomont, which showed the population to consist of 29 men, 31 women, 140 children and 19 Negro slaves.

In 1785 Rockland County was formed from the Southern territory of Orange County and five towns were taken from the Southern part of Ulster County and added to Orange County, viz.: Newburgh, Cornwall, New Windsor, Montgomery and Deerpark. The present boundary of Orange County contains 834 square miles. The population as given by the last National census shows a population of about 120,000 people.

Almost every acre of Orange County is historic ground and to record the thrilling past of her patriotic men and women, its many places of Colonial and Revolutionary history and its present day industries and business enterprises would fill volumes many times the size of this modest little book.

Wander where you will, search foreign lands in every clime, and no fairer spot on “God’s. Footstool” can be found that so appeals to one’s sense of beauty, grandeur and love of home as Orange County, the land of plenty, beautiful in the budding Spring, gloriously’ radiant in her Summer dress of green, rich in the many colorings of Autumn and magnificent in her Winter garb of snow.

History of Orange County New York

Poems about Orange County New York

Knapp Family Bible

The Knapp Family Bible was given by J. H. Knapp to his grandson, John Henry Knapp of New York. The author of the writing within it is not clear, but it likely is Mehitable (Heatty) Covell Ackerman Knapp, John’s second wife. It takes a little to unscramble this family, but both William Ackerman and John Knapp married Mehitable (Heatty) Covel. William first in 1784. After his death in 1798, Heatty married as her 2nd husband, John Knapp. While the Bible was handed down to John, the inclusion of William Ackerman and her children would presume that she was the…
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Old Houses of the North Country

730 (numbered) Articles written by David F. Lane about the old homes and the families who built and lived in them in the area of New York called “North Country”. These articles were published in the Watertown (NY) Daily Times, 1941-1956 in a series titled Old Mansions of the North Country (No. 1-87), Old Homes of the North Country (No. 91-99, 103), and Old Houses of the North Country. Placed online by the Genealogy Department of Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library, Watertown, NY. Predominantly these houses were located in Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties, however, some were also located in…
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Associate Reformed Church, Orange County, New York

The records of the Associate Reformed Church, Little Britain, have been preserved with great care and the history of this ancient religious organization dates from Colonial times. The history of this Church is best told by the Rev. John Scott King, the present pastor, in a pamphlet issued at the time of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the society. This brief history of the Little Britain Church says in part: “By a lease dated the 10th of September, and a release dated the 11th of September, 1765, ‘in the fifth year of His Majesty, George…

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Orange County Poets, Statesmen, Historians,

Orange County can claim the distinction of having been the home of many men and women who have achieved literary fame as poets, historians, journalists and writers, the work of several having found a permanent place in English literature. Chief among her poets may be mentioned Nathaniel Parker Willis, of Cornwall, and Goshen’s sweet singer, Mrs. Ethel Lynn Eliot Beers. Poems of both these writers are to be found in Bryant’s “Family Library of Poetry and Song,” a standard work of international reputation. Ethel Lynn Eliot Beers Ethel Lynn Eliot Beers. Goshen’s Sweet Singer, Mrs. Ethel Lynn Eliot Beers, who…

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More Orange County Poets, Statesmen, Historians,

William Henry Seward William H. Seward was born May 16, 1801, in the village of Florida, Town of Warwick, Orange County, New York. His father, Dr. Samuel S. Seward, was a physician of good standing and the first Vice-President of the County Medical Society. Dr. Seward was a farmer, as well as physician, and also the magistrate, storekeeper, banker and money-lender of the little village. He lived to a good old age, dying after his son’s election to the United States Senate, in 1849. The family was of New Jersey origin. John Seward, the grandfather of William Henry, served in…

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A Crooked Little Brook, Orange County, New York

I am well aware of the many omissions and errors incident to the compilation of so small a historical narrative as the present one, and I trust the reader will accord a generous measure of charity for its imperfections. If I have brought to mind recollections of youthful scenes and incidents to the aged, and inspiration and renewed interest and ambitions to the young of the present day in their native county I shall be content, for no fairer land than Orange County can be found in any clime, though one search the world over. To those who have found…

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