Explore the Tompkins County Bicentennial website to learn more about how Tompkins County is commemorating this important anniversary during 2017.
A Brief History of the County's Formation
Tompkins County was formed in 1817 from the neighboring counties of Cayuga and Seneca. Records from 1799 to 1817 for those townships that were a part of Cayuga County until 1817 are found at the Cayuga County Courthouse in Auburn, NY. Records for Ulysses, (now Ulysses, Enfield and Ithaca) and Hector, which were part of Seneca County from 1804 to 1817, are found at the Seneca County Courthouse, Waterloo, NY. The county seat of Tompkins County is Ithaca. Part of the 2 million acre Military Tract set aside by the NY Legislature in 1789 for the use of soldiers of the Revolution was located in Tompkins County. This Tract was surveyed in 1789 and 1790 and divided into twenty-eight townships containing 100 one square mile lots. The town of Dryden was designated as Township No. 23. Each township had one lot reserved for "gospel" and one lot reserved for "literature". In 1791, New York private and non-commissioned officers of the Revolution took part in a drawing and were allowed to draw one lot. The results of the drawing were recorded in the "Balloting Book". As a result of the balloting, early settlers were from many different locations. Some land was occupied by the original owner, but other lots were sold to investors and potential settlers. From: Tompkins County NYGenWeb