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.
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: