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Jefferson County, NY history

Jefferson County, New York history and genealogy

We are happy to offer our genealogy and local history publications from Jefferson County, NY.  We are adding items of historical interest regularly and expect to continue for some time.


Now Available for Download

Adams Center High School Annual for 1922 -- High school yearbooks capture moments in time – or at least the best of them do.  This one, soft cover and limited size included, give us a glimpse of this Jefferson County community at the beginning of the Roaring Twenties – an era which would change American culture in significant ways.  It also represents a time when there seemed to not yet be a consensus about exactly what belonged in a high school yearbook, as the contents of this number illustrates.

First, the graduates that year numbered seven.  So, absent was the customary bunch of pages of portraits and accomplishments.  A single photo suffices for the class.  There is a senior class history.  A senior class will.  A senior class prophecy and a class poem.  An address by the class president, followed by a response by a member of the junior class.  Then follows a series of essays:  “The United States Merchant Marine”  “The Grand Canyon of Arizona”  “A Drama”  (about Macbeth)  “Helen Hunt Jackson” (identified as one of the most famous women in the United States; unknown today, she seems to have been an advocate for Native Americans).

Remarks by the Principal at the presentation of diplomas are followed by an article advocating for a new high school.  Then comes a curious table called “School Census, 1921-1922 – Incomplete Returns” which we presume was humorous.  With prohibition in effect, next comes the obligatory article “Alcohol as a Menace”, followed by a light-hearted section called “Ifs” and a “Who’s Who”.  A photo of the baseball team is followed by a history of the school, which is in turn followed by reports on the various sports teams.  Then comes a real oddity: the constitution and by-laws of the Ontario Interscholastic Baseball League. (we are still scratching our collective heads over that one!).  Then some current poetry – again, presumably humorous, if you knew the individuals mentioned.  Some more humo is punctuated by a photo of the girls’ basketball team. 

Rather abruptly a photo of the Adams Center High School faculty appears, along with the list of the members of the board of education.  A boon here for family historians, next to come is a list of alumni by class, including their present city of residence.  Class years begin with 1899, and the compilation is acknowledged to be incomplete.  Then comes a list of the members of each class of the high school – including two post grads – and a list by class of those in the elementary school.  Ten pages of advertisements wrap up the book.

78 pages, in PDF format, download now for $4.00



Jefferson County, New York, In the World War --The bulk of this impressive volume is made up of two lists: those from Jefferson County who served, and those who died.  It is impressive, for a county with the population of Jefferson County, how many were in each category.  There are also photographs (of varying quality) of many of those who died.  Additional lists identify those who served in non-military capacities, both as nurses and YMCA/Red Cross workers abroad, and on commissions and committees and boards at home.  The lists of those who served generally include the street address of record of the serviceman, as well as whether they were members of the American Expeditionary Force (i.e. served in Europe) or another branch of the service that may or may not have served outside the continental United States. The remainder of the volume is text – documentation of service supporting the military on the home front, and a bit of material about the war itself.  Notable in the latter category is that Serbia is called “Servia” – an alternative name for the country of which we were unaware.  Likewise notable and useful even for those without a Jefferson County connection are tables comparing the Army divisions in various quantitative measures, such as length of time overseas, length of time “in action”, casualties sustained, prisoners captured, etc.  211+ pages, in PDF format.  Download now for $5.00.

Jefferson County in the World War (World War I)


Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York

Here is a wonderful Jefferson County resource that is useful bordering on essential for anyone doing genealogical or local history in Jefferson County.  Published in 1898, it is in three parts:  part 1, consisting of 875 pages, is the county and town history section.  Part II, biographies of notables, is around 60 pages long.  Following that, Part III consists of 276 pages of "personal references."  There are three separate indexes, consisting of around 50 pages -- saving us the necessity of indexing such a large volume. There is also a large number of pictures, both portraits and views of county scenes, in addition to the numbered pages.  All in all, there's a huge amount of information here, in what appears to be a very accessible form for that era.  If the Watertown, NY area is of interest to you, you'll want this one.  We're currently publishing individual chapters, and the ones currently available are listed below.  If you would like us to publish a chapter out of order, please let us know -- you'll see we've already accommodated a few customers in this regard.  We've also provided the table of contents, preface, list of illustrations, and the three indices as a free download to help facilitate your research.


Table of Contents, List of Illustrations, Preface and Indices from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1898).  This free download in PDF form is intended to facilitate your research in this volume and in Jefferson County in general.  56+ pages.


The Civil War chapter (Chapter VIII) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1898).  Chapter includes general material about attitudes toward the war in Jefferson County, and lists units raised in the county, including officers (commissioned and non-commissioned) as well as the history of each unit.  30+ pages, PDF format, download.  $3.75

 Jefferson County in the Civil War


The City of Watertown chapter (Chapter XX)  from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1898).  Watertown then, as now, was "the big city" for Jefferson County, and as such receives a particularly thorough treatment.  135+ pages, PDF format, download now for $3.75.

 City of Watertown from Emerson's Jefferson County NY

The Adams township chapter (Chapter XXI)  from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1898).  That this township's population peaked in 1860 is of interest to anyone viewing population trends in upstate New York over time.  37+ pages, PDF format, download now for $3.25.

 Adams Township, Jefferson County, NY

The Alexandria Township chapter (Chapter XXII) from Edgar C. Emerson's  Jefferson County, New York (1898).  We were interested to learn that a military and naval engagement of the War of 1812 was fought in and around Sackets Harbor in this township – an engagement of which we were previously unaware.  Then, as now, the population of the area was sparse.   25+ pages, PDF format, download now for $3.00.

 Alexandria Township, Jefferson County, NY

The Antwerp Township chapter (Chapter XXIII) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1868).  23+ pages, in PDF format, download now for $2.75. 

 Atwerp Township, Jefferson County, NY history

The Brownville Township chapter (Chapter XXIV) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1868).  36+ pages, in PDF format, download now for $3.25. 

 Brownville Township, Jefferson County, NY history

The Cape Vincent Township chapter (Chapter XXV) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1868).  29+ pages, in PDF format, download now for $3.00. 

 Cape Vincent Township, Jefferson County, NY history

The Champion Township chapter (Chapter XXVI) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1868).  14+ pages, in PDF format, download now for $2.00.

 Champion Township, Jefferson County, NY history

The Clayton Township chapter (Chapter XXVII) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1868).  27+ pages, in PDF format, download now for $2.75.

 Clayton Twp, Jefferson County, NY history


The Ellisburgh Township chapter (Chapter XXVIII) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1898).  40+ pages, PDF format, download now for $3.00. 

Ellisburgh Twp, Jefferson Cty, NY history   


The Henderson Township chapter (Chapter XXIX) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1898).  16+ pages, PDF format.

Henderson Township, Jefferson County, New York 


The Hounsfield Township chapter (Chapter XXX) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1898).  32+ pages, PDF format, download now for $2.00. 

 Hounsfield Twp, Jefferson Cty, New York State history 


The LeRay Township chapter (Chapter XXXI) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1898).  29+ pages, PDF format, download now for $2.50. 

 LeRay Township, Jefferson County, NY history


The Watertown Township chapter (Chapter XL) from Edgar C. Emerson's Jefferson County, New York (1898).  20+ pages, PDF format, download now for $3.00.   

Watertown, Jefferson County, NY

The Wilna Township chapter (Chapter XLI) from Edgar C. Emerson's comprehensive county history, Jefferson County, New York (1898).  23+ pages, PDF format, download now for $2.75. 

Wilna Township, Jefferson County, NY

Jefferson County, from French's Gazetteer of the State of New York (1860).  This source is considered definitive for the period just prior to the Civil War and essential for any Jefferson County collection.  The following localities are mentioned in boldface in this chapter:  Adams, Adams Center, Smithville, Appling, North Adams, Alexandria, Alexandria Bay, Plessis, Redwood, Antwerp, Ox Bow, Sterlingburgh, Spragues Corners, Brownsville, Dexter, Limerick, Moffatsville, Pillar Point, Cape Vincent, Saint Lawrence, Millens Bay, Champion, Great Bend, West Carthage, Champion South Roads, Clayton, Depauville, Clayton Center, Ellisburgh, Ellis Village, Belleville, Pierrepont Manor, Woodville, Mannsville, Rural Hill, Wardwell, Henderson, Henderson Harbor, Smithville, Roberts Corners, Hounsfield, Sackets Harbor, East Hounsfield, Stowells Corners, Le Ray, Le Raysville, Evans Mills, Sandfords Corners, Black River, Lorraine, Lyme, Chaumont, Three Mile Bay, Point Peninsula, Orleans, La Fargeville, Omar, Stone Mills, Orleans 4 Corners, Port Orleans, Collins Landing, Pamelia, Pamelia Village, Juhelsville, Pamelia Four Corners, Philadelphia, Sterlingsville, Rodman, Zoar, Whitesville, Rutland, Felts Mills, Black River, Tylerville, Rutland Center, Theresa, West Theresa, Watertown, Burrs Mills, Watertown Center, Fields Settlement, Wilna, Carthage, Natural Bridge, North Wilna, Wood Settlement, Worth, and Worthville.  14+ pages, PDF format, download.  $1.75 

Jefferson County Chapter from French's Gazetteer


Jefferson County, from Mather & Brockett's Geographical History of New York (1848).  Only a dozen years before French's Gazetteer, and quite a different treatment.  In the 1840s, New York was still a growing state – still frontier, in parts – and the authors of this volume attempted, with uneven results, to capture the geography and history of the state.  We say uneven, because the counties receive uneven treatment.  Some are treated at considerable length and offer a complete view of the time of that county, while others are treated very briefly and one supposes that a few were scarcely researched at all.  Fortunately this was not one of the latter.  Jefferson County fared considerably better than average at seven pages.  Some counties received as few as three.  We also include in this publication the section on land grants due to their importance in the state’s history. Mather & Brockett is difficult to find today, and we're very happy to be able to bring it to you.  7++ pages, PDF format, download now for $3.50.

 Jefferson County, from Mather & Brockett (1848)


See also:  relevant material in the NYS Canal Commissioners Report for 1878 available for download on our New York State Miscellany page.


Jefferson County items currently awaiting publication:

Day Book:  Brown's Store, Stone Mills, Jefferson County, NY

(November 1853 - November 1854). This is a one-of-a-kind original day book (sales and purchases) for a pre-Civil War country store located in Orleans Township, Jefferson County. If you had an ancestor in that tiny community, or if you have an interest in knowing how country stores worked at that period of time, you will have a wonderful time with this.  We're certainly not expecting to sell many copies of this one, but the large-format pages have a wealth of information for those willing to read and extract it.

Proceeding of the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors (1934)

There is quite a bit of local history and some genealogy in this 367 page volume.  These include the coroner's report (with names, dates, and causes of death), the sheriff's report (including information about all those consigned to mental health or delinquent facilities during the year, with some family information) and minutes of all of the meetings during the year, as well as financial information.  This is a pretty specialized item, so we'll wait for indications of interest before we schedule republication -- but we could make it a download! What do you think? 



Jefferson County was separated from Oneida County in 1805.  You may also want to consult our Oneida County page for locations that may have been affected by this transaction.


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