Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version * * * “REWIND”
December 1, 2013
The Creation of Warren County
Note: As the Bicentennial year winds down, we present some information about the birth of Warren County two hundred years ago. The following information was taken from material written by John Austin (Chapter 1) and Roy Urrico ( Chapter 4) of WarrenCounty (New York): Its People and Their History Over Time.
New York Map,1775 – 1784.
When settlers first came to what we know as Warren County, it was part of Albany County in the province of New York. Charlotte County, including the west half of Vermont and extending north to Canada, was formed from Albany County on March 12, 1772, named for Queen Charlotte of Macklenburgh Streilitz, wife of Britain’s King George III. Its name was changed to Washington County on April 2, 1874, the first county in the United States to be named in honor of General George Washington. Clinton County was taken off the northern portion in 1788, and the eastern portion was ceded to Vermont in 1790.
The first white settlers in the area included Jeffrey Cowper, a former sailor given permission to settle here by British General Jeffrey Amherst and a group led by Abraham Wing from Quaker Hill in Dutchess County to a site that became known as Wing’s Falls, later Glens Falls. The original plan was to settle on what is today Upper Glen Street area, but the Hudson River drew pioneers a bit to the south.
The northwest reaches of then – Washington County did not boom immediately after the American Revolution. The scarcity of roads no doubt slowed expansion. The area needed help in order to grow and that facilitation came from property owners, or landlords, who supplied tools and seeds, promoted settlement and provided protection.
Tardieu Map of Queensbury Area 1812.
Four landlords were the primary architects of Warren County settlement: John Thurman, James (and then William) Caldwell, Abraham Wing and David Sanford. They gave settlers, who otherwise had little in the way of assets, the opportunity to lease land. By doing so, these property owners unleashed the region’s potential.
On March 12, 1813, Warren County was officially carved out of Washington County by dividing it into two almost equal parts, with the new Warren County being slightly larger geographically.
The new county was named to honor General Joseph Warren, a civil rights agitator spoke out against British taxation and other colonial causes even before the Revolution. Warren, who died at the Battle of Bunker Hill, became one of the first heroes of the War for Independence. Transplanted New Englanders who arrived to settle lands that opened up, no doubt influenced the county name selection.
The boundaries of Warren County were defined as:
All that part of the State bounded northerly by a line running a due west course from the northwest corner of the county of Washington so as to strike the most northerly points of the rock commonly called Roger’s Rock, on the west side of Lake George, and continued west until intersecting a line drawn from the Mohawk River, where the northeast corner of the tract of land granted by letters patent to George Ingoldsby and others touches the Mohawk north one degree and twenty-five minutes west; westerl7y by the line just mentioned intersecting a west line drawn from Fort George, near Lake George; by that line until it strikes the north branch of the Hudson River, and by the middle of said branch and of the main stream to the southeast corner of Queensbury; north along the east line of that town to Lake George; thence north along the west line of the towns of Fort Ann and Putnam to the north bounds of the county.
Map of Warren County – 1829.
The legislation did not specify a county seat location but did designate the court sessions be held in Caldwell’s Lake George Coffee House.
In the meantime, Governor Daniel Tompkins (1807-1817) appointed a committee to select a stie for the county buildings. The committee shoes some land in Caldwell, after strong campaigning by James Caldwell himself, which was deemed central to all travelers as the site. The land for the county headquarters was deeded by James Caldwell to the Warren County supervisors for $5 on October 16, 1815. The county building (which is located just north of today’s Shepard Park) was started in 1817 and completed in 1819. It contained a courthouse, jail, and clerk’s office.
Before there was Warren County, there was Queensbury. A large step toward major development occurred in 1784 when the town board authorized the construction of four-rod roads along Ridge Road, Haviland Road, connecting with the Old Military Road; French Mountain Road , from the Old Military Road past Lake Sunnyside to Kingsbury; Bay Road from the village north.
While the exact population of the community at the time is unknown, an election in 1786 drew 86 registered voters. In the first census of the entire Washington County region (in 1790), only Queensbury was named ion what is now Warren County. The total population was 183 families and 1,081 people, which included one slave owned by John Thurman. At the time, Washington County’s population was 14,077,
On March 7, 1788, the New York state legislature divided the state into towns. While the legislature had in some cases changed the names and boundaries of some existing towns in the state, Queensbury wasn’t so unfortunate. Queensbury had operated as a town – holding town meetings, electing town officers, raising taxes and conducting other town business – since the 1760s (with the exception of a few years during the latter part of the Revolutionary War). Like many of the other towns that existed under British rule before the war, Queensbury was re-established as it was.
Its borders: “all that part of said county of Washington bounded easterly by West Field (Fort Ann) and Kingsbury, southerly by the county of Albany, westerly by the county of Montgomery, northerly by the said bounds of said county of Washington, shall be and hereby is erected into a town, by the name of Queensbury. At the time, Queensbury covered an area of some 940 square miles, the entire territory of what now makes up Warren County.
Gradually slices of Queensbury became other communities. In 1792, wilderness north and west of Queensbury was divided into the Towns of Fairfield (later Lake Luzerne) and Thurman. In 1802, a one-mile strip of Luzerne was re-annexed to Queensbury. In 1810, a part of Caldwell was set off.
Partial map with names – 1858.
The exact original boundary of Queensbury is somewhat sketchy. Apparently, the people who wrote the law describing the boundaries of the town in 1786 and 1788 were not familiar with the land and did not know where the extension of the east line of the Queensbury Patent would touch Lake George. It was finally defined by the Fort Ann and Queensbury supervisors in 1798 when they made the decision to run the boundary line where it stands today.
Stan Cianfarano prepared this article using material from WarrenCounty (New York): Its People and Their History Over Time, Chapters 1 and 4. Thanks go to John Austin and Roy Urrico for the original work.
Warren County Map – 1912.
Warren County Map – 1942.
USGS Partial Topo Map, Glens Falls area, 1895.
Bien map of Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties – 1895.
© December 1 2013, Warren County Historical Society