Wayne County, New York

Wayne County, New York

Infobox U.S. County
county = Wayne County
state = New York

map size = 225
founded = 1823
seat = Lyons
motto = | area_total_sq_mi =1384
area_land_sq_mi =604
area_water_sq_mi =780
area percentage =
census yr = 2000
pop = 93765
density_km2 =60
web = www.co.wayne.ny.us

Wayne County is a county located in the U.S. State of New York. It is part of the Rochester, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area and lies on the south shore of Lake Ontario, forming part of the northern border of the United States with Canada. The name honors General Anthony Wayne, a Revolutionary War hero and American statesman.

Its location during the early westward expansion of the United States, on an international border and in a fertile farming region, has contributed to a rich cultural and economic history. Two world religions sprung from within its borders, and its inhabitants played important roles in Abolitionism in the years leading up to the Civil War. Nineteenth century War of 1812 skirmishes, Great Lakes sailing ship commerce and Erie Canal barge traffic have since yielded to contemporary recognition as one of the world's most productive fruit growing regions.


Prior to the arrival of Europeans, the land Wayne County encompasses was originally part of the Iroquois Confederacy, which had existed from around August 31, 1142. [cite journal | last = Barbara | first = Mann | coauthors = Jerry L. Fields | title = A Sign in the Sky: Dating the League of the Haudenosaunee | journal = American Indian Culture and Research Journal| volume = 21| issue = 2 | publisher = American Indian Studies Center | date = 1997] When counties were established in New York State in 1683, it became part of Albany County. This was an enormous county, including the northern part of New York State and all of the present State of Vermont, extending (in theory) westward to the Pacific Ocean. In 1804, after numerous acts of subdividing, Seneca County was formed by the splitting of Cayuga County, which, in turn, was reduced in size by combining portions of Seneca and the remainder of Cayuga County to form Tompkins County in 1817.Facts|date=February 2007

On April 11 1823, Wayne County was formed by combining portions of Seneca and Ontario Counties.

Westward expansion

The first non-Native American settlers of the region located along the Ganargua River, just west of present-day Palmyra. In 1788 the area became part of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase, a 6,000,000 acre (24,000 km²) tract of land sold to Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Sir William Pulteney, a British baronet and English land speculator. Pulteney and his partners in the Pulteney Association purchased a 1,000,000 acres (4,000 km²) of the former Phelps and Gorham Purchase in 1790.cite web | last = McKelvey | first = Blake | title = Historic Aspects of the Phelps and Gorham Treaty of July 4-8, 1788 | publisher = Rochester Public Library | location = Rochester, New York | date = 1927| url = http://www.rochester.lib.ny.us/~rochhist/v1_1939/v1i1.pdf | accessdate = 2007-01-07]

The first westward road was one coming from near Utica to Geneva, and, with the building of the Cayuga Bridge in 1800, was the road chosen by nearly all of the westward travelers. This highway left the Wayne region somewhat isolated and settlers desiring to locate there came by way of streams and lakes lying to the north of the road. It was only a few years after that the "new road" came west, passing through the county, opening up the fertile Ganargua lands to easier settlement.cite web | last = Sullivan | first = James | title = The History of New York State | publisher = Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. | date = 1927| url = http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/state/his/ | accessdate = 2007-01-06]

The first permanent settlement was started by John Swift and Col. John Jenkins in March 1789, about two miles from Palmyra. In May of that year a small colony made up of the Stansell and Leatherby families located at the junction of Ganargwa and the Canandaigua Outlet, calling the place Lyons, from a "fancied likeness of that city's location on the Rhone".

While Phelps and Gorham sold some land to settlers, they were unable to make payments on their land and much of the land in the Phelps Gorham purchase either reverted to Massachusetts and was resold or conveyed directly to Robert Morris, a major financier of the Revolutionary War and signer of The Declaration of Independence. In 1792, he in turn sold approximately 1,200,000 acres (4,900 km²) to The Pulteney Association owned by Sir William Pulteney and two other minor partners. The Pulteney Purchase, or the Genesee Tract as it was also known, comprised all of the present-day counties of Ontario, Steuben and Yates, as well as portions of Allegheny, Livingston, Monroe, Schuyler and Wayne. After Pulteney's death in 1805 the land was known as the Pulteney Estate.cite web | title = Williamson | publisher = Pultneyville Historical Society | date = 2003-2006| url = http://www.pultneyvillehistoricalsociety.org/pages/Williamson.htm | accessdate = 2007-01-07]

Sir William Pulteney selected Charles Williamson as land agent to develop the purchased 1,200,000 acres (4,900 km²). In 1792, Williamson, a Scotsman came to the unsettled wilderness in upstate New York to develop the land by building roads, selecting sites for towns, dividing land into lots, and building gristmills, taverns, stores and houses. Williamson selected Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario as the point for a future commercial center, with the idea that the lake and the Saint Lawrence River would be the outlet for the products of the region. In 1794 he had roads built from Palmyra to Phelpstown (present-day Phelps). Sodus was surveyed by Joseph Colt in lots of a quarter acre (1,000 m²), a hotel was built, and $20,000 dollars was expended in the first two years in improvements. Sodus quickly passed from having an uncertain future to the head of the towns of the region.

Great Lakes commerce

Until the opening of the Erie Canal in 1823, Pultneyville, New York, at the mouth of Salmon Creek, was Wayne County's only port. From about 1811 through the 1890s (when the customs office closed), shipping in this small hamlet extended to the Atlantic Ocean and the world via the Saint Lawrence River. During the early years of the 19th century, activity in Pultneyville focused on agricultural commerce from the surrounding region (as far south as Canandaigua) and the maritime trade on the Great Lakes. In 1865, it was home to nearly 30 lake captains, and many sailors from both Pultneyville and Sodus Bay crewed on whalers around the world.cite book | last = Roemer | first = Lillian | title = The Whale Hunters of Pultneyville | publisher = Rochester Public Library | date = Spring 1996 | location = Rochester, New York | pages = p. 5] In 1874 the first railroad appeared when the Lake Shore Railroad line opened and the center of trade moved three miles south to Williamson and Pultneyville's significance as a commerce center sharply declined. [The first train from Oswego to Charlotte, Rochester's port, ran on January 1, 1875. cite book | last = McKelvey | first = Blake | title = Railroads in Rochester's History | publisher = Rochester Public Library | date = October 1968 | location = Rochester, New York | pages = p. 13]

Religion: Wayne County and the Second Great Awakening

Wayne County played host to key events in the development of significant American religions during the country's Second Great Awakening period of the early 19th century. Palmyra became the birthplace of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1820s. The Fox Sisters heard rappings from a dead peddler in Hydesville and spawned a movement that eventually garnered a million followers at its peak, [cite book| last = Stuart | first = Nancy Rubin | title = The Reluctant Spiritualist | publisher = Harcourt Books | date = 2005] and Sodus Bay contained a significant, albeit short-lived, community of Shakers about the same time. [cite web | last = Martin | first = John H. | title = Saints, Sinners and Reformers | publisher = The Crooked Lake Review | url = http://www.crookedlakereview.com/books/saints_sinners/martin6.html | date = Fall 2005 | accessdate = 2007-01-07]

Spiritualism and the Fox sisters

Spiritualists often set March 31, 1848 as the beginning of their movement. On that date, Kate and Margaret Fox, of Hydesville, reported that they had made contact with the spirit of a murdered peddler. What made this an extraordinary event was that the spirit communicated through audible rapping noises, rather than simply appearing to a person in a trance. The evidence of the senses appealed to practical Americans, and the Fox sisters became a sensation. Demonstrations of mediumship (seances and automatic writing, for example) proved to be a profitable business, and soon became popular forms of entertainment and spiritual catharsis. The Foxes earned a living this way, as did many others. [Carroll 1997; Braude 2001]

Joseph Smith, Hill Cumorah and Mormonism


Smith visited the hill each year on the fall equinox (September 22, 22) between 1823 and 1827 and claimed to be instructed by the angel Moroni. Smith said he was finally was sufficiently instructed to take the Mormon record on September 22, 1827. It is not absolutely known if no one else saw the actual plates until June 15, 1829, but those who did on that date testified that they saw and they bore record of the validity of Joseph Smith as a Prophet and The Book of Mormon as a true ancient American record. Martin Harris, David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery testified that it was indeed from God. All three later apostatized from the Church but none ever denied the truthfulness of their testimonies. The powerful witness accounts can be found in the preface to the Book of Mormon.

The hill (which was then unnamed) was only a few miles from Joseph Smith's home on the main road toward Canandaigua from Palmyra to Manchester and is not far from Carangrie Creek and the Clyde River. According to geologists, the hill, a drumlin, was formed during the retreat of the last Ice Age glaciers and it rises approximately 110 feet above the surrounding valley floor.

Smith and his Mormon followers soon trekked westward, Smith was shot by a mob in Carthrage jail Illinois. Brigham Young was eventually sustained as Prophet, Seer and Revalator just as in times of old. After much hardship they found Salt Lake City, Utah and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Hill Cumorah Pageant is held annually in Palmyra by the church and attracted over 100,000 attendees during its 2001 performances. [cite news | title = A History Lesson | publisher = The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle | date = July 8, 2001 | url = | accessdate = 2007-02-15] The church reported a worldwide membership of over 12.5 million in 2005. [ [http://lds.org/newsroom/showrelease/0,15503,4028-1-23166,00.html "Statistical Report 2005"] , The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.]

War of 1812

Two small skirmishes were fought in the county during the War of 1812: one in Sodus in June 1813 [cite book | last = Marsh | first = Ruth | coauthors = Dorothy S. Truesdale | title = War on Lake Ontario: 1812–1815 | publisher = Rochester Public Library | date = October 1942 | location = Rochester, New York | pages = p. 11] and the other in Williamson, a year later. In May 1814 British troops under the command of Sir James Yeo landed in the Williamson hamlet of Pultneyville. Yeo's fleet had already successfully raided Oswego to the east and unsuccessfully attacked Rochester to the west before attempting to obtain stores from Pultneyville. An agreement with the hamlet's residents was made, permitting the invaders to seize supplies without resistance. A dispute broke out, however, and weapons fire began on both sides, including cannon bombardment from Lake Ontario. A few citizens were killed or wounded and two were taken prisoner as the British fled. [cite book | last = Marsh | first = Ruth | coauthors = Dorothy S. Truesdale | title = War on Lake Ontario: 1812–1815 | publisher = Rochester Public Library | date = October 1942 | location = Rochester, New York | pages = p. 18]

Civil War and Underground Railroad


Erie Canal

The Erie Canal transits the southern edge of the county. The villages of Lyons, Newark, and Palmyra all became homes to canal locks when the Albany to Rochester section of the canal opened on September 10, 1823. On that day these communities became part of a direct water-link between the eastern seaboard metropolises of New York City and Baltimore and America's expanding western frontier.

Hoffman Essays

Wayne County high school seniors are offered the opportunity to win a scholarship by The Augustus L. and Jennie D. Hoffman Foundation Scholarship Essay Program. Established in 1954 to encourage the study of local history, students research and write essays on some aspect of Wayne County history or civic affairs. Between its inception and 2007 over 600 essays have been submitted. [cite web | title = The Hoffman Foundation Scholarship Essay Program | publisher = Wayne County, NY: Office of the County Historian | url = http://www.co.wayne.ny.us/Departments/historian/HoffmanEssayIndex.htm | accessdate = 2007-01-07]

Historical societies

In addition to the county historical society, there are a number of other historical preservation organizations. Most of these are town or village based.
*Newark-Arcadia Historical Society
*Butler Historical Preservation Society
*Galen Historical Society
*Historic Palmyra, Inc.
*Lyons Heritage Society
*Macedon Historical Society
*Marion Historical Society
*Ontario Historical & L.P. Society
*Pultneyville Historical Society
*Red Creek Historical Society
*Rose Historical Society
*Sodus Bay Historical Society
*Walworth Historical Society
*Wayne County Historical Society
*Wolcott Historical Society

Law/Government and Politics

The county is governed by a Board of Supervisors, composed of the town supervisors from each of the county's fifteen towns. The board's chairman is selected from amongst the supervisors. The 2007 county budget was $154 million. [cite web | title = Wayne County, New York: County Budget | publisher = Wayne County, New York | date = December 16, 2006 | url = http://www.co.wayne.ny.us/Departments/COTB/BoardBudget.htm | accessdate = 2007-01-06]

The county seat is the village of Lyons and bi-weekly board meetings are held in the Wayne County Court House in the village.

Law enforcement in Wayne County is a shared responsibility of the New York State Police, Troop E, the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, and various town and village police departments.


Wayne County is in the western part of New York State, east of Rochester and northwest of Syracuse, on the south shore of Lake Ontario. Sodus Bay is located on the north shoreline of the county. Wayne is bounded by five other New York counties: the northern boundary is Lake Ontario with Canada on the opposite shore; the western boundary is Monroe County; and the eastern boundary is Cayuga County; the south boundary is shared with Ontario and Seneca Counties.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,384 square miles (3,585 km²), of which, 604 square miles (1,565 km²) of it is land and 780 square miles (2,020 km²) of it (56.35%) is water.

The Clinton Formation, a band of red hematite across the county, led to a thriving iron industry during the 19th century. Furnaces were located in the Towns of Ontario and Wolcott.

Adjacent Counties

*Lake Ontario and Canada - north
*Cayuga County, New York - east
*Seneca County, New York - southeast
*Ontario County, New York - southwest
*Monroe County, New York - west

Major Highways


Towns and villages (incorporated communities)

The county is completely rural and has no cities. Its largest political subdivision (incorporated communities) is the town, followed by the village. There are the 15 towns and nine villages.

*Arcadia (town)
*Butler (town)
*Clyde (village)
*Galen (town)
*Huron (town)
*Lyons (village)
*Lyons (town)
*Macedon (village)
*Macedon (town)
*Marion (town)
*Newark (village)
*Ontario (town)
*Palmyra (town)
*Palmyra (village)
*Red Creek (village)
*Rose (town)
*Savannah (town)
*Sodus (village)
*Sodus (town)
*Sodus Point (village)
*Walworth (town)
*Williamson (town)
*Wolcott (town)
*Wolcott (village)

Unincorporated communities

Wayne county has a number of unincorporated communities. Most are considered hamlets.

*Angells Corners
*Bear Creek
*Bonni Castle
*Butler Center
*Desbrough Park
*East Bay Park
*East Palmyra
*East Williamson
*Evans Corner
*Fairville Station
*Fort Hill
*Furnace Village
*Lake Bluff
*Lock Berlin
*Macedon Center
*Mud Mills
*Noble Corner
*North Huron
*North Macedon
*North Rose
*North Wolcott
*Ontario Center
*Owls Nest
*Rice Mill
*Shephards Corner
*Sodus Center
*South Butler
*South Sodus
*Sunset View
*Thorntons Corner
*Union Hill
*Wayne Center
*West Butler
*West Walworth
*Yellow Mills

Notable Festivals and Parades

Wayne County is home to several festivals and parades, most from late spring through early fall due to the Upstate New York climate. Some of the more notable include:

* Apple Blossom Festival (Williamson, third week in May)
* Hill Cumorah Pageant (Palmyra and Manchester, Ontario County, third week in July)
* Rose Parade (Newark, third weekend in July)
* Wayne County Fair (Palmyra, second week in August)
* Lumberjack Festival (Macedon Center, second weekend in September)
* Canaltown Days (Palmyra, third weekend in September)

Also, many of Wayne County's volunteer fire departments host "firemen's carnivals" throughout the summer, with parades, rides, food, fireworks, and attractions which become a centerpiece of the summer social circuit.


In 2005 the county's estimated population was 93,609, a slight drop from the decennial count in 2000 (93,765), and a 5 percent increase from the official count in 1990. [cite web | title = U.S. Census Bureau, 2005 Population Estimates, Census 2000, 1990 Census | publisher = U.S. Census Bureau | url = http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFPopulation?geo_id=05000US36117&_state=04000US36&pctxt=cr | accessdate = 2007-01-07] Families made up 70 percent of the households in Wayne County in 2005. This figure includes both married-couple families (59 percent) and other families (12 percent). Non-family households made up 30 percent of all households. Most of these households were people living alone, but some were composed of people living in households in which no one was related to the householder. Source: American Community Survey, 2005

As of the censusGR|2 of 2000, there were 93,765 people, 34,908 households, and 25,063 families residing in the county. The population density was 155 people per square mile (60/km²). There were 38,767 housing units and the average population density was 25/km² (64/sq mi). [cite web | title = U.S. Census (2000) - Fact Sheet (Wayne County, NY) | publisher = U.S. Census Bureau | url = http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/SAFFFacts?_event=&geo_id=05000US36117&_geoContext=01000US%7C04000US36%7C05000US36117%7C06000US3611782040&_street=&_county=Williamson&_cityTown=Williamson&_state=04000US36&_zip=&_lang=en&_sse=on&ActiveGeoDiv=geoSelect&_useEV=&pctxt=fph&pgsl=060&_submenuId=factsheet_1&ds_name=DEC_2000_SAFF&_ci_nbr=null&qr_name=null&reg=null%3Anull&_keyword=&_industry= | accessdate = 2007-01-07]

There were 34,908 households out of which 36.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.70% were married couples living together, 10.30% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.20% were non-families. 22.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.30% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the county the population was spread out with 27.40% under the age of 18, 6.80% from 18 to 24, 30.10% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 12.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 98.10 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $44,157, and the median income for a family was $51,495. Males had a median income of $36,825 versus $26,470 for females. The per capita income for the county was $19,258. About 6.00% of families and 8.60% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.70% of those under age 18 and 9.40% of those age 65 or over.

Racial/ethnic makeup

The racial makeup of the county was 93.80% White, 3.25% African American, 0.26% Native American, 0.47% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.87% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.41% of the population. 18.0% were of German, 12.8% Italian, 12.6% English, 11.6% Dutch, 11.4% Irish and 8.9% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 95.7% spoke English and 2.2% Spanish as their first language.

ee also





External links

* [http://www.co.wayne.ny.us Wayne County, NY official site]
* [http://www.waynecountytourism.com Wayne County, NY Tourism site]
* [http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/state/his/bk7/ch3.html Early history of Wayne County]

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