Three Rivers
History From America's Most Famous Valleys

Thanks to Herbert R. Groff, typing volunteer!


From a very old and brittle newspaper, origin unknown

The Political Formation of Montgomery County and the Towns – Many Interesting Points With Which Every Resident of the County Ought to be Familiar –--------- Mohawk in Revolutionary Times

A few historical facts relating to the political formation of Montgomery county and it’s towns, with a general topographical and geographical description, are given in this issue principally to refresh the memories of our readers upon a subject with which they should be thoroughly familiar at all times.

In 1772, three years before the outbreak of the Revolution, the legislature of New York divided the original county of Albany, creating two additional counties, one of which was called Tryon, in honor of William Tryon, the British governor of the province. What an immense county it was, embracing all the territory of the state which lay west of the Delaware river and a line extended thence north through Schoharie county and along the west line of Montgomery, Fulton and Hamilton (all now existing), and thence direct to Canada. Governor Tryon became so offensive to the victorious Americans in the Mohawk Valley, that in 1784, the name was changed to Montgomery in honor of the patriotic American general who fell in the attempt to capture Quebec. In 1778 the boundaries of the then existing counties of the state were accurately defined, and Montgomery county was made to include all the territory of the state west of Ulster, Albany, Washington, and Clinton counties.

The first territorial reduction of old Montgomery was made in 1789, when Ontario was created, including within its boundaries all that part of the state west of Seneca Lake and amounting in the aggregate to more than two million acres. In 1791 Montgomery was again reduced in area by the creation of Hamilton, Herkimer, Otsego and Tioga counties, leaving only the territory which it now includes with that of Fulton county. Hamilton, however was restored to the mother county in 1797, but it was again set off in 1816.

In 1838 Fulton county was created which then remained to Montgomery county. In this manner old Montgomery has been reduced from an original area of about eight million acres (roughly estimated) to its present 289040 acres, or 436 square miles.

Soon after the creation of Tryon county (March 24, 1772) its inhabited territory was divided into five provisional districts, namely; Mohawk, Canajoharie, Palatine, German Flats and Kingsland. The sixth district of the county --- old England--- including lands west of the Susquehanna river, was formed April 3, 1775. On March 9, 1780, that part of the Mohawk district lying north of the river was set off under the name of Caughnawaga. In 1788 this district was formed into a township and included all the county lying north of the Mohawk and east of a line extending from the Nose of Canada. Five years later (1793) this town was divided and Amsterdam, Mayfield, Broadalbin, and Johnstown were organized from its territory. When that division took place, the old name (Caughnawaga) was limited to the ancient village which forms part of Fonda.

Canajoharie, both as a district and a town, has been preserved in name since its original formation in 1772. In 1788 this district became a town, but its territory has since been in part taken in the creation of other towns – Minden in 1798 and an addition in 1749, and a part of Root in 1823.

Palatine was at first a district called Stone Arabia. This was in 1772, but in 1775 the name was changed to Palatine. It embraced all the territory between Little Falls and the Nose, and extended from the Mohawk to Canada. The towns of Salisbury, Stratford, Oppenheim, and Ephratah have been formed, in whole or in part, from the original Palatine,

Mohawk district originally included all the territory between the eastern boundary of Tryon county and a north and south line crossing the river at Anthony’s Nose, and extending north and south between these lines as far as the limits of the county. Caughnawaga, north of the river was taken from this vast tract in 1788 and sub-divided, as has been stated, in 1793. The present town of Mohawk was formed from Johnstown in 1837, while Johnstown itself was originally a part of Caughnawaga, the latter was a part of the still older district of Mohawk.

Charleston and Florida were both formed from lands of the old Mohawk district by an act passed March 12, 1793.

Glen was formed from Charleston, April 10, 1823: Minden was taken from Canajoharie, March 22, 1798; Danube, Herkimer county, was taken from Minden in 1817; Root was formed from Canajoharie and Charleston. January 17, 1823 and St. Johnsville from Oppenheim, April 18, 1838, but it is part of the old Palatine district.

Having thus briefly mentioned the gradual method by which Montgomery county (as at present constituted) and its several towns were brought into existence, we now appropriately give a general topographical and geographical description:

Montgomery is bounded on the north by Fulton county, east by Schenectady and Saratoga, south by Schenectady, Schoharie and Otsego, and west by Herkimer. It lies on both sides of the Mohawk, centrally distant from Albany less than 40 miles and contains 436 square miles. The general range of highlands which forms the connecting links between the northern spurs of the Allegheny Mountains on the south and the Adirondacks on the north, extends through the county in a northeast and southwest direction. The Mohawk cuts through the upland and forms a valley one or two miles in width, and skirted by hills from one hundred to five hundred feet in height. The valleys of the several tributaries of the Mohawk extend several miles into the highland districts at nearly right angles with the river. The hills bordering upon the latter generally rise gradual slopes and from their summits the county spreads out into an undulating upland, with a general inclination toward the river, into which every part of the county is drained. The principal tributaries of the Mohawk are the East Canada, Garoga, Cayadutta, Chuctanunda creeks, and Eva’s Kill,on the north and Chuctanunda, Cowillega, Schoharie, Auries, Flat, Canajohaarie and Otsquago creeks on the south. The highest point of land in the county is said to be Bean hill, in Florida, and is estimated at 700 feet above tide. The lowest point is in the bed of the Mohawk, on the east line of the county about 200 feet above tide.

Gneiss, the only primary rock in the county, is found in patches, its principal locality being near the Nose on the river. Resting directly upon this are heavy masses of calciferous sandstone, appearing most frequently on the North side of the Mohawk and trending northward into Fulton county. This rock is occasionally found to contain in its cavities quartz and modules of anthracite coal, which have led to vain expenditures in mining for coal. Near Sprakers, traces of lead have been found. Above the sandstone and next to it are the Black river and Trenton limestone, not important as surface rocks, but furnishing valuable quarries of building stone. The slates and shales of the Hudson river group extend along the south border of the county, and are found a few places north of the river.

Drift and boulder abound in various places. The soil along the river consists of alluvial deposits of deep -----? vegetable mould, and upland it is mostly a highly productive s---? county generally well adapted for agriculture pursuits; while dairy and the raising of spring grains and hay have been specially remunerative.

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