Jefferson County, New York

Not to be confused with Jefferson, New York.
Jefferson County, New York

Old Jefferson County Courthouse
Map of New York highlighting Jefferson 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 1805
Named for Thomas Jefferson
Seat Watertown
Largest city Watertown
  Total 1,857 sq mi (4,810 km2)
  Land 1,269 sq mi (3,287 km2)
  Water 589 sq mi (1,526 km2), 32%
  (2010) 116,229
  Density 92/sq mi (36/km²)
Congressional district 21st
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4

Jefferson County is a county in the U.S. state of New York. As of the 2010 census, the population was 116,229.[1] Its county seat is Watertown.[2] The county is named after Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States of America.[3] It is adjacent to Lake Ontario, southeast from the Canada–US border of Ontario.

Jefferson County comprises the Watertown-Fort Drum, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The U.S. Tenth Mountain Division is based at Fort Drum.


When counties were established in the Province of New York in 1683, the present Jefferson County was part of Albany County. This was an enormous county, including the northern part of New York State as well as all of the present State of Vermont and, in theory, extending westward to the Pacific Ocean. This county was reduced in size on July 3, 1766 by the creation of Cumberland County, and further on March 16, 1770 by the creation of Gloucester County, both containing territory now in Vermont.

On March 12, 1772, what was left of Albany County was split into three parts, one remaining under the name Albany County. One of the other pieces, Tryon County, contained the western portion (and thus, since no western boundary was specified, theoretically still extended west to the Pacific). The eastern boundary of Tryon County was approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) west of the present city of Schenectady, and the county included the western part of the Adirondack Mountains and the area west of the West Branch of the Delaware River. The area then designated as Tryon County now includes 37 counties of New York State. The county was named for William Tryon, colonial governor of New York.

In the years subsequent to 1776, most of the Loyalists in Tryon County fled to Canada. In 1784, following the peace treaty that ended the American Revolutionary War, the name of Tryon County was changed to Montgomery County to honor the general, Richard Montgomery, who had captured several places in Canada and died attempting to capture the city of Quebec, replacing the name of the hated British governor.

In 1789, the size of Montgomery County was reduced by the splitting off of Ontario County from Montgomery. The actual area split off from Montgomery County was much larger than the present county, also including the present Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Steuben, Wyoming, Yates, and part of Schuyler and Wayne Counties.

Jefferson County is part of Macomb's Purchase of 1791.

In 1791, Herkimer County was one of three counties split off from Montgomery (the other two being Otsego, and Tioga County). This was much larger than the present county, however, and was reduced by a number of subsequent splits. The first one of these, in 1794, produced Onondaga County. This county was larger than the current Onondaga County, including the present Cayuga, Cortland, and part of Oswego Counties.

Oneida County (as well as a part of Chenango County), was split off from Herkimer County in 1798.

Jefferson County was split off from Oneida County in 1805. In 1817, Carleton Island, captured from the British in the War of 1812, was annexed to the county.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,857 square miles (4,810 km2), of which 1,269 square miles (3,290 km2) is land and 589 square miles (1,530 km2) (32%) is water.[4] It is the fourth-largest county in New York by total area.

Jefferson County is in northeastern New York State, adjacent to the area where the Saint Lawrence River exits Lake Ontario. It is northeast of Syracuse, and northwest of Utica. The county is at the international border with Canada.

The Black River, which empties into Lake Ontario, is an important waterway in the county. Part of the Tug Hill Plateau is in the southern part of the county. The county contains part of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River, including such large islands as Carleton Island, Grindstone Island, and Wellesley Island.

Adjacent counties

Major highways


Legislative authority is vested in the county Board of Legislators which consists of 15 members each elected from single member districts for two-year terms.[5] Legislative District Maps As of 2016, there are 14 Republicans and 1 Democrat.

Jefferson County vote
by party in presidential elections
Year Republican Democratic
2016 57.6% 19,947 35.5% 12,289
2012 50.8% 18,122 47.9% 17,099
2008 52.0% 20,220 46.7% 18,166
2004 54.7% 21,231 43.5% 16,860
2000 50.0% 18,192 46.1% 16,799
1996 36.2% 12,362 49.2% 16,783
1992 38.0% 14,227 35.8% 13,380
1988 57.4% 19,304 42.0% 14,137
1984 68.0% 23,445 31.8% 10,960
1980 49.7% 16,455 40.1% 13,271
1976 60.0% 20,401 39.7% 13,503
1972 66.4% 23,123 33.4% 11,629
1968 56.0% 18,552 40.6% 13,438
1964 29.8% 10,718 70.1% 25,175
1960 60.6% 24,290 39.4% 15,800
Jefferson County Board of Legislators
District Legislator Party Residence
1 Michael J. Docteur Republican Cape Vincent
2 William W. Johnson Republican Lyme
3 Philip N. Reed, Sr. Republican Orleans
4 Allen T. Drake Democrat Theresa
5 Michael Montigelli Republican Le Ray
6 Daniel R. McBride Republican Wilna
7 John D. Peck Republican Champion
8 James A. Nabywaniec Republican Le Ray
9 Patrick R. Jareo Republican Ellisburg
10 Jeremiah J. Maxon Republican Adams
11 Robert D. Ferris Republican Watertown
12 Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick Republican Watertown
13 Scott A. Gray chairman Republican Watertown
14 Jennie M. Adsit Republican Watertown
15 Anthony J. Doldo Republican Watertown


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 2015117,635[7]1.2%
U.S. Decennial Census[8]
1790–1960[9] 1900–1990[10]
1990–2000[11] 2010–2013[1]

As of the census[12] of 2000, there were 111,738 people, 40,068 households, and 28,127 families residing in the county. The population density was 88 people per square mile (34/km²). There were 54,070 housing units at an average density of 42 per square mile (16/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 88.71% White, 5.83% Black or African American, 0.53% Native American, 0.92% Asian, 0.14% Pacific Islander, 2.05% from other races, and 1.82% from two or more races. 4.19% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 93.2% spoke English and 3.5% Spanish as their first language.

21.9% were of English, 14.1% Irish, 12.8% German, 8.5% French and 8.5% Italian ancestry according to the 2010 American Community Survey.

There were 40,068 households out of which 37.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.60% were married couples living together, 10.40% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.80% were non-families. 24.40% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.10% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.07.

In the county the population was spread out with 26.50% under the age of 18, 11.80% from 18 to 24, 31.30% from 25 to 44, 19.10% from 45 to 64, and 11.30% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 107.30 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.50 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $34,006, and the median income for a family was $39,296. Males had a median income of $28,727 versus $21,787 for females. The per capita income for the county was $16,202. About 10.00% of families and 13.30% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.80% of those under age 18 and 9.20% of those age 65 or over.


Jefferson Community College in Watertown provides higher education within the county.





Hamlets and census-designated places

See also


  1. 1 2 "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved October 12, 2013.
  2. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 168.
  4. "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  5. "Jefferson County, New York : Legislature". Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  7. "County Totals Dataset: Population, Population Change and Estimated Components of Population Change: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  8. "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  9. "Historical Census Browser". University of Virginia Library. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  10. "Population of Counties by Decennial Census: 1900 to 1990". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  11. "Census 2000 PHC-T-4. Ranking Tables for Counties: 1990 and 2000" (PDF). United States Census Bureau. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  12. "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
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Coordinates: 43°59′N 76°03′W / 43.99°N 76.05°W / 43.99; -76.05

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