Ulster County Administrative Offices are located at 244 Fair Street, Kingston, NY 12401; phone: 845‑340‑3900.
Ulster one of New York's original eight counties established in 1683. (The others were: Dutchess, Orange, Kings, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, and Westchester.)
A trading house, or fort, was probably erected in this county as early as 1615, in the neighborhood of Kingston. At how early a period settlements were made in other sections of the county is uncertain. The frequent references to the settlements at Esopus, as the vicinity of the fort was called in the Dutch records, show that it had early become a location of some importance.
Situated about midway between the city of New Amsterdam and the colony of Rensselaerwyck, whose inhabitants did not always maintain the most friendly relations with each other, and with the Indians, it was more exposed to Indian hostilities than most of the other settlements.
In 1657, Van de Donk, the ex-attorney general, who resided at Esophus, slew a squaw for stealing peaches from his garden, and her tribe revenged the murder by killing several of the white settlers. From this and other causes much ill feeling arose between the natives and the settlers, and in June, 1663, the Indians made a descent upon the settlement, and killed and carried captive sixty-five persons.
Circumstances rendered it probable that a conspiracy had been formed by the Indians to extirpate the Dutch colonists. Governor Stuyvesant summoned the magistrates of the different towns, to consult with him relative to measures of defence. Their views not coinciding with his own, he repaired to Esopus, and took the field in person against the savages, who, on the approach of Martin Creigier, one of his captains, had fled to the mountains.
Sending out parties of wary and experienced soldiers, Gov. Stuyvesant not only kept them in check, but destroyed most of their mountain fastnesses, and so far subdued them that they asked for a truce, and, on the 15th of May following, a treaty of peace was concluded with them.
Wawarsing and some of the adjacent towns were settled by the Huguenots, in the latter part of the seventeenth century, or the beginning of the eighteenth.
The convention, which formed the first constitution of the state, met at Kingston, in a chamber of the house of Mr. James W. Baldwin.
In October, 1777, during Sir Henry Clinton's expedition up the Hudson, for the relief of General Burgoyne, he despatched General Vaughan to Kingston. He landed and burned the village, at that time the third in the state for wealth, population, and elegance. Only one house escaped the flames. Several tories were executed at Kingston during the Revolution. In 1778, two men, Anderson and Osterhout, were taken captives by the Indians, and carried toward Binghamton. On their way they succeeded in killing their captors, and, after almost incredible hardships, returned to their houses in the town of Wawarsing.
The Shawangunk mountains enter the county from Orange County, and traverse it in a north-easterly direction, for nearly thirty miles, approaching the Hudson at Kingston.
The Blue mountains, a continuation of the Allegany chain, enter the county from Sullivan county, and spread over its western section, mingling in the northern part with the Catskill range. They are said to rise, in some places, to the height of 2000 feet. Between these and the Shawangunk mountains, is a broad valley through which flows the Rondout creek.
Beside the Hudson which washes its eastern border, the principal streams of the county are the Wallkill and Shawangunk rivers, and Esopus and Rondout creeks, with their tributaries. The Nevisink river also takes its rise in this county.