County Connections!

Background for


Montgomery County was first settled, in the early 1720s, by Palatine Germans. Burnetsfield, later called German Flats, the Stone Arabia Patent, and others were set up by Governor Burnet to cope with the Palatine problem, with which Governor Hunter had been struggling ineffectually for over ten years. See articles on the Palatines on both Montgomery and Tryon County websites.

A few descendants of the Albany and Hudson Valley Dutch settlers came in at the same time, to be followed by a later flood. Midcentury, Sir William Johnson imported Irish and Highland Scots to people his estate. New Englanders, particularly after the Revolutionary War, driven out of their original settlements by worn out land, by wheat rust, and by overcrowding, poured into and through Montgomery County.

The early settlers had plenty of land to choose from, but their huge families, augmented by increasing numbers of migrants from the east, as well as the Dutch, New Englanders, and even European immigrants, used up the available farm land within three generations. After the Revolutionary War, the few Native Americans remaining in this area were herded on to reservations, and no longer posed a threat to expansion in New York State. Indians in Canada no longer had the encouragement of the French to attack their sister settlements to the south. With these drawbacks to pioneering disposed of, the fourth generation of Palatines in the new world was on the move, and Jefferson County to the north, opened for settlement soon after the turn of the century, drew family after family. Not just Palatines had itchy heels, but the whole population of Montgomery County furnished discontented, adventurous, ambitious families to pioneer once again on the frontier.

Montgomery County, the mother county for New York state west, north and south of itself, provided probably more than half of the early settlers of Jefferson County, which, in turn, served as a jumping off place for parts even farther west: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin: all accessible from the Great Lakes. Ports such as Sackets Harbor, Cape Vincent, and Clayton, which seldom dock a commercial vessel today, were busy with westbound freight and passengers beginning in 1829. That's when the Welland Canal around Niagara Falls opened all of the Great Lakes, from Lake Ontario to the far reaches of Lake Superior, for settlement from New York State.

Herkimer County split off from Montgomery County in this time period, and settlers leaving the area which they knew as Montgomery County were unsure after a few years in the north country, just where the boundary lay. Many gave their origin as Herkimer, when it was really Montgmery, and some probably gave Montgomery, making an honest mistake for Herkimer. Researchers in other counties are led astray when a son or grandson gave his ancestor's home county by hearsay or guess.

County Connections is an attempt to help searchers find their roots or branches, making the jump from one county to the other. The Family Sketches from Child's Gazetteer on the Jefferson County GenWebsite sometimes refer to Jefferson County Pioneers, and to Montgomery County backgrounds. Many of these families stayed less than a generation in Jefferson County, moving west leaving only the barest of traces. Others stayed for a generation or two, but after the Civil War, another major exodus to the west took place. You are invited to send your family information to one or the other, or to both Jefferson and Montgomery counties.

Back To County Connections Introductory Page

Jefferson County NY GenWeb

Herkimer/Montgomery Counties NY GenWeb

New York State GenWeb Main Page

Created November 1, 1999
Copyright © 1999 Nan Dixon
Copyright © 1999 Martha S. Magill
All Rights Reserved.