Friday, March 7, 2014

Happy Birthday, Schenectady County!

This basic county map depicts Schenectady County today. Image from

Today marks the date the Schenectady County was established. On March 7, 1809, Schenectady County split off of Albany County. Albany County was one of the original counties in the colony of New York created in November 1683 by colonial governor Thomas Dongan. The act creating Albany County defined the territory of the county "to containe the Towns of Albany, the Collony Rensselaerwyck, Schonecteda, and all the villages, neighborhoods, and Christian Planta├žons on the east side of Hudson River from Roelef's Creek, and on the west side from Sawyer's Creek (Saugerties) to the Sarraghtoga." Although the boundaries of Albany County changed many times over the next 125 years, Schenectady and the surrounding towns remained part of Albany County. When Schenectady County was created in 1809, it was the last change made to the boundaries of Albany County.

Portion of map of New York Province, 1776, showing Albany County, which at that time included the area that would later become Schenectady County. Image from People of Colonial Albany Live Here site, New York State Museum (

Portion of 1808 New York State map showing Albany County, one year before Schenectady County split from Albany County. Image from collections of Grems-Doolittle Library.

When Schenectady County was created, it consisted of the city of Schenectady and the towns of Duanesburg, Princetown, and Niskayuna (Niskayuna itself being newly incorporated from Watervliet on the same date). Glenville and Rotterdam would be incorporated from the city of Schenectady several years later, in 1820. The act that created Schenectady County charged the county with its new responsibilities to prepare a court house and jail, record deeds, maintain records of election returns, collect taxes, and to appoint a county clerk and county treasurer. The city of Schenectady was chosen as the county seat. The History of the County of Schenectady, authored by George Rogers Howell and John H. Munsell, listed that in 1809 the total valuation of real and personal estate of the county was $1,841,728.

Portion of 1824 New York State map showing Schenectady County. Image from collections of Grems-Doolittle Library.

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