Officially formed on March 3, 1802 from parts of Clinton County that had only been recently acquired from Montgomery and Herkimer Counties, St. Lawrence County is named after the river that serves as the county’s northern boundary. The original county seat was located at Ogdensburg, the American successor to Fort de La Présentation. The seat moved to Canton in 1828 because the new location was both more centrally-located and not blatantly vulnerable to the British territory located just across the river. Major land transactions that affected the area include the land partition of the Ten Towns in 1787 and the Macomb Purchase of 1792. St. Lawrence County is New York State’s largest county by land area.
When searching for records in St. Lawrence County, a unique resource to checkout would be the St. Lawrence County Historical Association, County Historian, and Silas Wright Museum. Their holdings include cemetery records and census transcriptions, including 1845 and 1865 for some towns. Also books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and letters relating to the Civil War (serving soldiers and military units), the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, region-wide industrial history, and many genealogies. Special collections include the Macomb Purchase Papers (late 18th-century records of the purchase of the future St. Lawrence County), the Silas Wright Collection (letters and books of U.S. Senator and NYS Governor Silas Wright 1795–1847) and the Isaac Johnson papers (freed slave builder and architect).
If you are searching near De Kalb Junction, NY, you should visit the Town of De Kalb Historical Association, Museum, and Historian’s Office. Their holdings include Cemetery records, church records, land records, ledgers, maps, scrapbooks, and photographs dating from 1806–present. Website includes virtual archives, list of local historical societies, searchable indexes, and articles on local history.
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 St. Lawrence County.