Established by Dutch settlers on November 1, 1683, Orange County, NY was primarily inhabited by native Munsee people, with a handful of Dutch in the area. Within the next few decades, influxes of European settlers arrived from Germany (Palatines), the Netherlands, and England, and quickly populated the area. Orange County’s name originates from the Prince of Orange at the time, who later became King William III of England. Following the Revolutionary War, county borders changed and land was both lost and gained; in 1798 the southern corner of Orange became Rockland County, NY, and the southern part of Ulster County joined Orange. The county seat is the village of Goshen, and its largest city is Newburgh which sits right on the Hudson River.
When searching for records in Orange County, a great resource to checkout would be the Orange County Genealogical Society. Their holdings include histories and genealogies, census microfilm (federal 1790–1880 with printed indexes and 1900–1930, and state 1825–1875), family files, church and cemetery records, local directories, deeds and mortgages, marriages 1908–1932, naturalization records, newspapers, maps, and military records (Revolutionary, Civil, and Mexican Wars). Their website has list of city, town, and village historians and a catalog of its publications, which include transcriptions of cemeteries in the towns of Chester, Hamptonburgh, and Minisink, as well as many other original records.
If you are searching in Newburgh, NY, you should visit the Newburgh Free Library: Local History and Genealogy Research Room. Their holdings include books, pamphlets, business records, city directories 1858–present, church records, cemetery records, census microfilm, family histories, land grants, maps, newspapers on microfilm, photographs and postcards, obituary indexes, town records, and scrapbooks.
NYG&B members have access to all our original county guides on our website. Each guide was created by experts in the field in order to direct researchers to these local, unique resources. Visit our website to learn more about the benefits of membership.
Additionally, last year we published the New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, which is filled with gazetteers, maps, and research guides to each of New York’s 62 counties. Since our last printing, there have been many updates and changes noted. See our website for the list of additions and corrections to Orange County.