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Yates County Municipalities and their Records


All Counties in New York with the exception of the five boroughs of New York City are divided into towns. Yates is one of the smallest Counties in the state, with only nine towns. It is important to realize that in New York many records that in some states are kept by Counties are instead kept at the local level. The basic unit of local government is the town.

Map showing towns and villagesThe nine towns in Yates County, like all towns in the state, are governed by a supervisor and a town council. The town clerk keeps the council's minutes and is almost always also the registrar of vital records, as well as the designated manager of all the town's records. Each town also has a public historian whose task it is to preserve the town's history. All town clerks have an office, most at the town hall; most town historians in the County operate from their homes.

Some communities within one or more towns incorporate. These corporations are called villages, which are governed by a mayor and a board of trustees. Yates County has four villages: Penn Yan, which is the county seat, located at the north end of Keuka Lake's east branch and including portions of the towns of Milo, Benton and Jerusalem; Dundee, lying entirely within the town of Starkey, at the edge of the town of Barrington; Dresden, entirely within the town of Torrey on the shore of Seneca Lake; and Rushville, including parts of the towns of Potter in Yates County and Gorham in Ontario County.


Any of these municipalities may have records of interest to the general public, other public officials, or family and local history researchers. The County, in concert with the nine towns and four villages within its boundaries, has over the past several years, participated in a records management project which among other good ends has resulted in an inventory of all records held by each. Many of the most valuable and interesting records series have been microfilmed and may be used by the public at the county seat in Penn Yan. The following chart will lead you to some of these resources:

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