Last weekend I attended the NY State Family History Conference in Syracuse. This is the third year for the conference that is sponsored by the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society and Central NY Genealogical Society. The first day of the conference (Thursday) was more geared to administrators of genealogical societies. Friday and Saturday were for the genealogical researchers. There were three lectures running most of the day and there was always one that was for people researching in New York State. Those are the ones that I attended. Over the next week, or so, I will try to write brief reviews of the talks that I attended.
First lecture was by Karen Mauer Jones on “Patroonships, Manors, Patents, Rent Wars, and Land Companies.” Ms. Jones is the current editor of the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record.
Ms. Jones explained that a patroon was an owner of a large tract of land that were in the Dutch colony of New Netherland. The patroon had to get 50 settlers and establish a church on the land within the first few years. The settlers would only lease their land and have to pay a yearly rent usually in the form on bushels of crops. The largest patroonship was Rensselaerswyck. Records were kept by the land owner and rent ledgers for the larger patroonships exist at the NY State Archives.
When the English took over New York from the Dutch in 1664 the system was modified only slightly but the estates were then called Manors. The system existed until 1840s when there were rent wars and the land owners were forced to sell the land to the renters. See the “Land Patents” page from the NY Archives for tips on research in this period of NY history.
Starting in 1791 Military tracts were set up in central NY that covered 1.8 million acres of land granted to Revolutionary War veterans. A great share of these veterans sold their land without ever setting foot on the land. The Balloting Book and Other Documents Relating to Military Bounty Lands in the State of New York (1825) gives a full listing of those that were given military bounty lands and also who those lands sold to others. Start by looking at this index to the volume.
Ms. Jones concluded by talking about the Phelps and Gorham land purchase and Holland Land Company purchase. Those are two land purchases that were in western New York and both could be a full hour talk for each. Land purchased from those companies are found at the respective County Clerk’s office.