Schuyler County is a county located in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 18,343, making it the second-least populous county in New York. The county seat is Watkins Glen. The name is in honor of General Philip Schuyler, one of the four major generals in the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War.
When counties were established in New York State in 1683, the present Schuyler 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 prior 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 in honor of 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, Ontario County was split off 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.
In 1796, Steuben County was created, split off from Ontario County. It was rather larger than the present county, however.
In 1798, Chemung County was formed from Tioga County, but the county at that time was rather larger than the present county, containing a portion of what would later become Schuyler County.
In 1799, Cayuga County was formed by the splitting of Onondaga County. This county was, however, much larger than the present Cayuga County. It then included the present Seneca and Tompkins counties, as well as part of what would become Schuyler County.
In 1804, Seneca County was formed by the splitting of Cayuga County. Then in 1817, in turn, a portion of Seneca County was combined with a piece of the remainder of Cayuga County to form Tompkins County.
All Schuyler County towns and villages are covered in the 2006 historic photo book Around Watkins Glen, by Charles R. Mitchell and Kirk W. House.