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Hamilton County, New York

Hamilton County government offices are located on South Shore Road, Lake Pleasant NY 12108; phone: 518‑548‑3076.


Beginnings [1]

Hamilton County, like much of the northern Adirondack region, of which it is a part, remained a wilderness long after New York State had been divided into counties. Appropriately called the 'lake district of the Adirondacks', Hamilton County has seventy-seven lakes located amid the steep, densely wooded mountains of the Boquet and Adirondack chains. Prior to permanent white settlement of the area, a small number of Native Americans of the Abenaki (Algonquin) tribe made their home in Hamilton County; however, most only visited for hunting and trapping, making their permanent homes in the more arable and level regions to the west and north. Squaw Brook, Indian Lake, Sabattis Mountain, Piseco Lake and the Scanandaga River are among the many natural features whose names reflect the early presence of Native Americans.

Land speculation in the Adirondack region began shortly before the Revolutionary War. In 1771, the Native Americans met with the colonists in Johnstown and negotiated the sale of 1,115,000 acres for the sum of 1,135 pounds, or approximately one penny per four acres. The largest portion of this land purchase was what is now Hamilton County. As was the case for other early patents and purchases in the Adirondack region, permanent settlement of these land tracts was delayed by the Revolution.

Permanent settlement of Hamilton County began in 1780. Settlers were quick to take advantage of the almost unlimited lumbering possibilities as well as the rich opportunity for hunting and trapping. Tanneries were built in which Hemlock bark was used for tanning animal skins. Many hand-hewn shingles were also made by the early settlers and were drawn on sleds over the early military and Indian trails to distant communities where they were exchanged for provisions. By the 1790s, several sawmills had been established, beginning a viable lumber industry from which larger pulp and paper companies evolved by the mid-nineteenth century.

Prior to the Revolution, Hamilton County was included in the large area known as Albany County. It later became part of Montgomery County. In April 1816, Hamilton County (named after Alexander Hamilton) was set apart from Montgomery County as a provisional county until it contained a sufficient number (1,288) of taxable inhabitants qualified to vote for members of the assembly. By April 22, 1837 this quota was reached; Hamilton County was established, and Sageville (Lake Pleasant) was chosen as the governmental seat. By 1843 construction of the first county buildings was underway.

  1. Linda M. Garafolini, N.Y. State Office of Parks and Recreation, Historic Preservation Division, Hamilton County Courthouse Complex, nomination document, 1992, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.