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Jefferson County, New York

Jefferson County, New York
Old Jefferson County Courthouse
Map of New York highlighting Jefferson County
Location in the state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
Founded 1805
Named for Thomas Jefferson
Seat Watertown
Largest city Watertown
 • Total 1,857 sq mi (4,810 km2)
 • Land 1,272 sq mi (3,294 km2)
 • Water 585 sq mi (1,515 km2), 31.49%
 • (2010) 116,229
 • Density 91/sq mi (35.2/km²)
Congressional district 21st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Website .us.ny.jefferson.cowww

Jefferson County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 116,229.[1] Its county seat is Watertown.[2] The county is named after Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States of America.[3] It is adjacent to Lake Ontario, southeast from the Canadian border of Ontario.

Jefferson County comprises the Watertown-Fort Drum, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area.


  • History 1
  • Geography 2
    • Adjacent counties 2.1
    • Major highways 2.2
  • Government 3
  • Demographics 4
  • Communities 5
  • Additional county information 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


When counties were established in the Province of New York in 1683, the present Jefferson County was part of Albany County. This was an enormous county, including the northern part of New York State as well as all of the present State of Vermont and, in theory, extending westward to the Pacific Ocean. This county was reduced in size on July 3, 1766 by the creation of Cumberland County, and further on March 16, 1770 by the creation of Gloucester County, both containing territory now in Vermont.

On March 12, 1772, what was left of Albany County was split into three parts, one remaining under the name Albany County. One of the other pieces, Tryon County, contained the western portion (and thus, since no western boundary was specified, theoretically still extended west to the Pacific). The eastern boundary of Tryon County was approximately five miles west of the present city of Schenectady, and the county included the western part of the Adirondack Mountains and the area west of the West Branch of the Delaware River. The area then designated as Tryon County now includes 37 counties of New York State. The county was named for William Tryon, colonial governor of New York.

In the years subsequent to 1776, most of the Loyalists in Tryon County fled to Canada. In 1784, following the peace treaty that ended the American Revolutionary War, the name of Tryon County was changed to Montgomery County to honor the general, Richard Montgomery, who had captured several places in Canada and died attempting to capture the city of Quebec, replacing the name of the hated British governor.

In 1789, the size of Montgomery County was reduced by the splitting off of Ontario County from Montgomery. The actual area split off from Montgomery County was much larger than the present county, also including the present Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Steuben, Wyoming, Yates, and part of Schuyler and Wayne Counties.

Jefferson County is part of Macomb's Purchase of 1791.

In 1791, Herkimer County was one of three counties split off from Montgomery (the other two being Otsego, and Tioga County). This was much larger than the present county, however, and was reduced by a number of subsequent splits. The first one of these, in 1794, produced Onondaga County. This county was larger than the current Onondaga County, including the present Cayuga, Cortland, and part of Oswego Counties.

Oneida County (as well as a part of Chenango County), was split off from Herkimer County in 1798.

Jefferson County was split off from Oneida County in 1805. In 1817, Carleton Island, captured from the British in the War of 1812, was annexed to the county.


Jefferson County is in northeastern New York State, adjacent to the area where the Saint Lawrence River exits Lake Ontario. It is northeast of Syracuse, and northwest of Utica. The county is at the international border with Canada.

The Black River, which empties into Lake Ontario, is an important waterway in the county. Part of the Tug Hill Plateau is in the southern part of the county.

The county also includes nearby islands in the St. Lawrence River, including such large islands as Carleton Island, Grindstone Island, and Wellesley Island.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,857 square miles (4,809.6 km2), of which 1,272 square miles (3,294.5 km2) is land and 585 square miles (1,515.1 km2) (31.49%) is water.[4]

Adjacent counties

Major highways


Legislative authority is vested in the county Board of Legislators which consists of 15 members each elected from single member districts. Legislative District Maps As of 2014, there are 14 Republicans and 1 Democrat.

County Board of Legislators

  • 01 - Michael Docteur (R), Vice Chair
  • 02 - Robert J. Thomas (R)
  • 03 - Philip N. Reed, Sr. (R)
  • 04 - Allen Drake (D)
  • 05 - Michael Montigelli (R)
  • 06 - Jonathan Hirschey (R)
  • 07 - John D. Peck (R)
  • 08 - James Nabywaniec (R)
  • 09 - Patrick Jareo (R)
  • 10 - Jeremiah Maxon (R)
  • 11 - Robert D. Ferris (R)
  • 12 - Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick (R), Chair
  • 13 - Scott Gray (R)
  • 14 - Jennie Adsit (R)
  • 15 - Anthony Doldo (R)


As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 111,738 people, 40,068 households, and 28,127 families residing in the county. The population density was 88 people per square mile (34/km²). There were 54,070 housing units at an average density of 42 per square mile (16/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 88.71% White, 5.83% Black or African American, 0.53% Native American, 0.92% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 2.05% from other races, and 1.82% from two or more races. 4.19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 14.1% were of Irish, 12.8% German, 11.3% English, 10.6% American, 8.5% French and 8.5% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 93.2% spoke English and 3.5% Spanish as their first language.

There were 40,068 households out of which 37.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.60% were married couples living together, 10.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.80% were non-families. 24.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the county the population was spread out with 26.50% under the age of 18, 11.80% from 18 to 24, 31.30% from 25 to 44, 19.10% from 45 to 64, and 11.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 107.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,006, and the median income for a family was $39,296. Males had a median income of $28,727 versus $21,787 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,202. About 10.00% of families and 13.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.80% of those under age 18 and 9.20% of those age 65 or over.


The only city in Jefferson County is the City of Watertown.

=> Designations in parentheses relate to official political status.

Additional county information

Jefferson County contains part of the Thousand Islands and borders the St. Lawrence River.

Jefferson Community College in Watertown provides higher education within the county.

The U.S. Tenth Mountain Division is based at Fort Drum.

See also


  1. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  3. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 168. 
  4. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  5. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". Retrieved October 12, 2013. 
  6. ^ "American FactFinder".  

External links

  • Jefferson County webpage
  • Jefferson County at DMOZ
  • Guide to historical information
  • Summary history of Jefferson County, NY and its towns
  • Jefferson County information
  • Jefferson County history & genealogy
  • Jefferson County History with pics and links
  • Jefferson County history pages
  • Alexandria Bay in Jefferson County - Local Resource & News Website
  • Old Abandoned Buildings of Northern NY The urban decay of upstate NY, in pictures from the area.
  • Early Jefferson County Biographies
  • Jefferson County & Watertown wiki
  • List of walking, hiking, biking trails and areas in Jefferson County
  • Jefferson County Flickr Group

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