Chautauqua County, New York

This article is about the county in New York. For other uses of "Chautauqua", see Chautauqua (disambiguation).
Chautauqua County, New York

Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville

Map of New York highlighting Chautauqua County
Location in the U.S. state of New York
Map of the United States highlighting New York
New York's location in the U.S.
Founded February 9, 1811
Seat Mayville
Largest city Jamestown
  Total 1,500 sq mi (3,885 km2)
  Land 1,060 sq mi (2,745 km2)
  Water 440 sq mi (1,140 km2), 29%
  (2010) 134,905
  Density 127/sq mi (49/km²)
Congressional district 23rd
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Chautauqua County is the westernmost county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 134,905.[1] Its county seat is Mayville,[2] and its largest city is Jamestown. Its name is believed to be the lone surviving remnant of the Erie language, a tongue lost in the Beaver Wars; its meaning is unknown and a subject of speculation. The county was created in 1808 and later organized in 1811.[3]

Chautauqua County comprises the Jamestown-Dunkirk-Fredonia, NY Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is located south of Lake Erie and includes a small portion of the Cattaraugus Reservation of the Seneca.


Most of Chautauqua County was held by the Erie people prior to the Beaver Wars in the 1650s. French forces traversed the territory beginning in 1615. The Seneca Nation conquered the territory during the Beaver Wars and held it through the next century until siding with the British crown, their allies for most of the 18th century, against the American revolutionaries in the American Revolutionary War.

Chautauqua County was organized by the state legislature during the development of western New York after the American Revolutionary War. It was officially separated from Genesee County on March 11, 1808.[4] This partition was performed under the same terms that produced Cattaraugus and Niagara counties. The partition was done for political purposes, but the counties were not properly organized for self-government, so they were all administered as part of Niagara County.

On February 9, 1811, Chautauqua was completely organized, and its separate government was launched.[5] This established Chautauqua as a county of 1,100 square miles (2,850 square km) of land. Chautauqua has not been altered since.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,500 square miles (3,900 km2), of which 1,060 square miles (2,700 km2) is land and 440 square miles (1,100 km2) (29%) is water.[6]

Chautauqua County, in the southwestern corner of New York State, along the New York-Pennsylvania border, is the westernmost of New York's counties. Chautauqua Lake is located in the center of the county, and Lake Erie is its northern border.

Part of the Eastern Continental Divide runs through Chautauqua County. The area that drains into the Conewango Creek (including Chautauqua Lake) eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico; the rest of the county's watershed empties into Lake Erie and via Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway into the North Atlantic Ocean. This divide, known as the Chautauqua Ridge, can be used to mark the border between the Southern Tier and the Niagara Frontier. It is also a significant dividing point in the county's geopolitics, with the "North County" being centered on Dunkirk and the "South County" centered on Jamestown each having their own interests.[7]

The county is generally composed of rolling hills and valleys, with elevations ranging anywhere between 1100 and 2100 feet, although the land within a few miles of Lake Erie is generally flat and at an elevation of 1000 feet or lower.[8] The lowest point in the county is Lake Erie, at 571 feet (174 meters), and the highest point is Gurnsey Benchmark at 2180 feet (664 meters).[9]

Adjacent counties

Major highways


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015130,779[10]−3.1%
U.S. Decennial Census[11]
1790-1960[12] 1900-1990[13]
1990-2000[14] 2010-2013[1]

As of the census[15] of 2000, there were 139,750 people, 54,515 households, and 35,979 families residing in the county. The population density was 132 people per square mile (51/km²). There were 64,900 housing units at an average density of 61 per square mile (24/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 94.04% White, 2.18% Black or African American, 0.43% Native American, 0.36% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.73% from other races, and 1.23% from two or more races. 4.22% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 17.3% were of German, 15.1% Italian, 11.6% Swedish, 10.9% English, 9.3% Polish, 9.2% Irish and 5.6% American ancestry according to Census 2000. 93.0% spoke English and 3.8% Spanish as their first language.

There were 54,515 households out of which 30.50% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.90% were married couples living together, 10.80% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.00% were non-families. 28.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.60% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 2.99.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.50% under the age of 18, 10.30% from 18 to 24, 26.30% from 25 to 44, 23.00% from 45 to 64, and 16.00% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 95.20 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.20 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $33,458, and the median income for a family was $41,054. Males had a median income of $32,114 versus $22,214 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,840. About 9.70% of families and 13.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 19.30% of those under age 18 and 8.20% of those age 65 or over.

As of the 2010 Census, there were 134,905 people in the county. The population density was 127 people per square mile (49/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 92.57% (124,875 people) white, 2.37% (3,197 people) African-American, 0.51% (688 people) Asian, 0.51% (689 people) Native American/Alaskan, 0.03% (34 people) Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 1.98% (2,669 people) other, and 2.04% (2,751 people) two or more races. The Hispanic/Latino population of any race was 6.11% (8,241 people).

In the county, the population was spread out with 21.83% of the population under the age of 18, 3.82% (5,155 people) ages 18 and 19, 7.50% (10,113 people) ages 20–24, 10.37% (13,985 people) ages 25–34, 18.83% (25,406 people) ages 35–49, 21.07% (28,419 people) ages 50–64, and 16.59% (22,381 people) over the age of 65. Of the population, 49.3% (66,509 people) were male and 50.7% (68,396 people) were female.[16]

Government and politics

All of the county is in the 150th New York State Assembly district, represented by Andy Goodell. The entire county is within the bounds of New York's 23rd congressional district (served by Tom Reed) and the New York State Senate 57th district (served by Catharine Young). Prior to 2013, the county was part of New York's 27th congressional district. Prior to 2003, the county was part of New York's 31st congressional district (now the 29th), but was controversially redistricted out of that district and into what was the 27th, and was replaced in the 29th district by Rochester suburbs that had never before been part of the district. Chautauqua County, at the same time, joined southern Erie County and portions of the City of Buffalo in the 27th, areas that had also never been in the same district with each other. In both cases, the suburban additions were significantly more Democratic populations than the rural 31st was, leading to Democrats winning both portions of the divided territory and accusations of cracking-based gerrymandering. The 2012 redistricting process moved all of Chautauqua County into Goodell's assembly district, while the county also rejoined the former 31st (renumbered the 23rd) congressional district along with Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties.

Chautauqua County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic
2016 59.0% 29,418 34.6% 17,281
2012 52.9% 27,971 45.1% 23,812
2008 48.6% 28,579 49.5% 29,129
2004 53.2% 32,434 44.7% 27,257
2000 49.5% 29,064 46.0% 27,016
1996 37.8% 21,261 47.7% 26,831
1992 33.8% 21,222 36.1% 22,645
1988 54.7% 31,642 44.6% 25,814
1984 63.1% 39,597 36.6% 22,986
1980 51.2% 30,081 38.9% 22,871
1976 54.9% 33,730 44.7% 27,447
1972 58.4% 37,158 41.3% 26,253
1968 48.8% 28,561 45.2% 26,431
1964 30.7% 19,069 69.2% 42,924
1960 57.3% 37,836 42.6% 28,143

Chautauqua County is one of 19 "charter counties" in New York, which grants the county greater leeway in conducting its own affairs.

Chautauqua County was governed by a board of supervisors until 1975, when a new county charter went into effect with provisions for a county executive and a 13-seat county legislature.[18] The county council currently consists of 19 members, down from 25,[19] each elected from single member districts.

Chautauqua County Executives
Name Party Took office Left office
Joe Gerace Democratic January 1, 1975 May 10, 1983
David Dawson (acting) Democratic May 10, 1983 November 25, 1983
John A. Glenzer Republican November 25, 1983 December 31, 1989
Andrew W. Goodell Republican January 1, 1990 December 31, 1997
Mark W. Thomas Democratic January 1, 1998 December 31, 2005
Gregory J. Edwards Republican January 1, 2006 November 15, 2013
Steve Abdella UKN November 15, 2013 December 31, 2013
Vincent W. Horrigan Republican January 1, 2014 Incumbent
Chautauqua County Legislature
District Legislator Party
1 Keith Ahlstrom Democratic
2 Shaun Heenan Democratic
3 Bob Scudder Republican
4 Janet Keefe Democratic
5 Terry Niebel Republican
6 George Borrello Republican
7 John Runkle Republican
8 Pierre Chagnon Republican
9 Chuck Nazzaro Democratic
10 PJ Wendel Republican
11 Dave Wilfong Republican
12 Beth Kresge Democratic
13 Paula DeJoy Democratic
14 Mark Tarbrake Republican
15 Lisa Vanstrom Republican
16 Ron Lemon Republican
17 Jay Gould chairman Republican
18 Dave Himelein Republican
19 John Hemmer Republican

Chautauqua County had been a perfect bellwether county from 1980 to 2008, correctly voting for the winner of each presidential election in all eight elections in that time frame. Its 2012 vote (in which it voted for Republican Mitt Romney instead of incumbent Democrat Barack Obama) was its first miss since 1976.


Jamestown Community College has two campuses in the county at Jamestown and Dunkirk. The State University of New York at Fredonia is located in the northern part of the county. Jamestown Business College offers two year degrees, certificates, and a four-year degree in Jamestown.






Indian reservation

See also


  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Archived from the original on 2011-05-31. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. "New York: Individual County Chronologies". New York Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. The Newberry Library. 2008. Retrieved January 9, 2015.
  4. New York. Laws of New York.;31st Session; Chapter 40; Sections1—2; Page 266.
  5. Doty, William J., et al. ;Historic Annals of Southwestern New York.; 3 Volumes; New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company; 1940; Volume 1; Page 360.
  6. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  7. Dean, Nicholas (2009-08-30). "Legislators Cite North-South Discrepancies" Archived September 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., The Post-Journal, Retrieved 2009-08-30.
  8. "GNIS Feature Search for Chautauqua County, New York".
  9. "New York County High Points".
  10. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  11. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on May 11, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  12. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  13. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  14. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 3, 2015.
  15. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  16. "2010 US Census". Retrieved 13 September 2012.
  18. "3 MORE COUNTIES ADOPT CHARTERS", The New York Times, New York, New York, p. 59, 1973-11-25
  19. Post Journal

Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 42°18′N 79°25′W / 42.30°N 79.41°W / 42.30; -79.41

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