:: Fulton County Living ::
Prior to the 1700's the land which now constitutes Fulton County was, for the most part, pristine and
unsettled by Native Americans or European colonists. Centuries of use by the Mohawk Indians for hunting
and fishing for winter food stocks and for travel to and from the Champlain Corridor and Canada had
established their territorial rights and the use of the land in the eyes of other tribes. There had been no
settlement or exploitation of the land and it's resources in any way. However, this situation was about to change
with the influx of restless settlers from New England and the Hudson River Corridor, who came in search of
land for their farms. In order to satisfy this demand for land and to further the development of the Colony of
New York, the British Government of New York, together with group and individual land speculators, started
purchasing large tracts of land from the Indians for resale and profit.
Unfortunately, Native Americans had no concept of land ownership and were often victims of fraud at the
hands of those speculators. Official and legal ownership of these purchased tracts was sealed with official
approval issued by the Crown Government of New York through grants and patents.
The first and probably most infamous purchase of land that would eventually become part of Fulton County
was made by Attorney General of the British Colony of New York, Samson Broughton, in 1704. Broughton
purchased 700,000 acres for small compensation from the Mohawk Indians. The Mohawks, who thought they
were just selling enough acreage for one farm, were understandably irate over the deception, but were never
properly compensated for their loss.
This tract, a small amount which included the present towns of Broadalbin and Perth, was called the
Kayaderosseras Tract. The patent for this tract was issued by the New York Government to Naning
Hermanse and 12 friends, the first of 23 grants and patents to be issued for land now located within Fulton
County. Because the anger of the Mohawks was so great, no settlements were made within this huge tract until
after the conclusion of the French and Indian War in 1763. In 1723, the Stone Arabia Patent, consisting of
12,700 acres covering part of what is today Stone Arabia, Ephratah and Oppenheim, was issued to 27 German
Palatine families, most of whom settled in what is today Stone Arabia.
On June 23, 1753, the well-known Kingsborough Patent was issued by the Royal Colonial Government in
Albany to Arent Stevens and others. The patent covered 20,000 acres of prime forest land which had been
purchased from the Mohawks in 1752 for the absurd price of "3 pieces of showde (shoddy wool), 6 pieces of
gailing linnen, 3 barrels of beer, 6 gallons of rum and a fatt "beast".
The Kingsborough Tract and Patent included parts of what are today the towns of Johnstown, Mayfield and
Ephratah and the future sites of the cities of Johnstown and Gloversville and the village of Mayfield. Historians
believe Arent Stevens was simply an agent for Sir William Johnson, as Johnson soon owned the complete
In 1762, Johnson began building his hall within this tract at John's Town (named for his son) and soon had a
thriving hamlet consisting of 600 Scotch immigrants he had convinced to settle in and around Johnstown, as
well as a few German and Dutch families. In 1786, a group of New Englanders bought land within the
Kingsborough Patent which had been confiscated from the Johnson family at the end of the Revolutionary
War from the newly formed New York State Government and appropriately named their settlement
Kingsborough, a community that was to become the seed for Gloversville.
In 1683, an English Colonial law was passed making Albany County one of ten counties in the Colony of New
York. The other 9 counties were strung out along the Hudson River. On March 12, 1772, the huge County of
Albany, which included what is today Fulton County, was broken off into three large counties: Tryon,
Charlotte and Albany. Johnson was the primary instigator of this redrawing of boundaries, seeing the need and
advantage for bringing county legislation and control closer to home, specifically his home.
Tryon County was named for the Royal British Governor of New York, William Tryon, and Charlotte County
in northeastern New York was named for the wife of King George III. The Tryon County seat was placed at
Johnstown because of Johnson's influence, and he thereupon had the famous county Courthouse and
Johnstown Jail built in 1772 for the Tryon County legal matters. Prior to this, all legal business required a trip
Tryon County, which included all of today's Fulton County, was made up of five large districts -- not towns--
named Mohawk, Stone Arabia, Kingsland, German Flats and Canajoharie. In 1773, the Stone Arabia District
was renamed the Palatine District. The eastern boundary of Tryon County was a straight line running north
from the Delaware River, through what is today Schoharie County, along the eastern limits of what today are
Montgomery, Fulton and Hamilton counties, and north to Canada. All land west of this line in New York was
considered Tryon County. With Johnstown the county seat of this huge area, and with the State Road running
from the valley through Johnstown to the Black River country in the west by 1806, and with a developing
leather industry and trade, the Johnstown-Kingsborough area rapidly grew and flourished on the frontier.
The name Tryon was removed from the county on April 2, 1784, by the newly formed New York State
Legislature because of resentment for the previous Tory governor Tryon and was renamed Montgomery
County in honor of Gen. Richard Montgomery, who was killed in the Patriot attack on Quebec early in the
Revolutionary War. The eastern border of this renamed Montgomery County was redefined in 1788 as "all of
that part of the State bounded on the east by the Counties of Ulster, Albany, Washington and Clinton, and
south by the State of Pennsylvania."
Although not stated, the western limit of Montgomery was still the western border of the state, and the
northern border was still Canada. Washington, Clinton Saratoga and other counties replaced the old Charlotte
County when that name also became repugnant to the Patriots.
Also in 1788, all of the previous districts were now called towns, with the Mohawk district divided, forming the
two towns of Caughnawaga north of the Mohawk River, and the town of Mohawk south of the river.
In 1789, Montgomery County was reduced by the formation of Ontario County to the west, and in 1791 by the
formation of Tioga, Otsego and Herkimer counties. In 1817, the new western line of Montgomery County
was moved eastward to the East Canada Creek. In 1827, the town of Palatine was divided into two parts, with
the northern part becoming the town of Ephratah.
In 1817, the opening of the Erie Canal signaled change, as the prosperity enjoyed by the northern part of
Montgomery County was gradually challenged by population growth in the Mohawk Valley area.
In 1836, a petition by the people in the valley area to have the county seat switched from Johnstown to Fonda
was approved by the legislature because "the old county seat in Johnstown was no longer central to the
population of the county." Removal of the county courts and offices from the location of their origin in
Johnstown to what northerners considered an "upstart village" generated a great deal of dissatisfaction in the
northern part of Montgomery County and resulted in a petition to further divide the county. Judge Daniel
Cady of Johnstown was the leader of the separation movement. A legislative act creating Fulton County (named
after Robert Fulton of steamship and Erie Canal fame) was passed on April 18, 1838, and the present
boundaries of the county were fixed. After the county seat was moved to Fonda in 1836, the Fulton County
Courthouse and Clerk's Office had been sold to Joseph W. Farmer of Rockwood for $1650 and the jail to
Elias Prindle of Johnstown for $390, but thte1838 act stipulated that these buildings must be repurchased by
Fulton County for the same amounts they were previously sold for and put back into use within the county seat
There were still a few internal changes to occur within the new Fulton County borders subsequent to it's
formal establishment in 1838. Among those changes, on April 11, 1842, the town of Caroga was formed from
portions of the town of Johnstown, Stratford and Bleecker. Also in 1842, the town of Perth added a portion of
the town of Broadalbin to it's northeastern side. Fulton County was now formed as you see it today, with the
county seat returned to Johnstown, near the center of the area's then-flourishing industrial and farming
communities. After the many formative years leading to it's creation, the county was finally poised for the
many years of growth and prosperity that were to follow.
|Birth of a County
Fulton County created from dispute among neighbors
By William Loveday Jr.
Fulton County Historian
This was his first published piece as County Historian which appeared in the SUNDAY LEADER-HERALD,
January 13, 2002 on page 8A.
|I was honored to have known Bill Loveday Jr. He was a great man who fought for his country and served as historian along with a long list of contributions that
are too numerous to list here. He was a humble man and never boasted to his knowledge or contributions to his country and his county.
|1895 Parade Main street looking South
from Church Street Gloversville