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
- A Crooked Little Brook
- Its Historic Old Churches, with Biographies of Their Pastors
- Its Places of Colonial and Revolutionary Interest
- Reminiscences Of Rysdyk’s Hambletonian