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Yates County Towns in 1800


The actual organization of the County was still nearly a quarter-century in the future, but its settlement was in full swing by 1800. Steuben County had been organized in 1796, and the line between it and Ontario went right through where Yates would eventually be. The peninsula between the branches of the Crooked Lake (now Keuka) was part of Steuben County and entirely cut off from the rest of it. As it had very few inhabitants   this seems to have bothered no one at the time. It was then called Esperanza (now Bluff Point) and was the retreat of the Scots agent of the Pulteney Estate, Charles Williamson. It was located in the vast and nearly empty wilderness of Frederick's Town.

The towns in the rest of the county were starting to take embryonic shape. Augusta was organized from part of the district of Canandaigua in 1797; Jerusalem, having been set up as a district in 1789, began doing official business as a town in 1798. Middletown was purchased as a block by a group of investors from Berkshire County in Massachusetts, the first of whom arrived about 1791.

The county's eastern boundaries had been settled since the drawing of the New Pre-emption Line in the middle of the 1790s, and settlement was brisk once title to land became clearer. The Universal Friend had moved with part of her following to the modern town of Jerusalem, several miles west of the original settlement at City Hill in Torrey.The eastern part of the town, in modern Benton and Milo, was included in the Pulteney estate's settlement with the Lessees, and was by this time also starting to fill up with people who were not associated with the Friend.

These people came largely from New England, particularly Connecticut; and from Montgomery and Northumberland Counties in Pennsylvania. The first taverns and stage routes were established and the enormous work of turning the forest into productive farmland was begun.