Montgomery County's Department of History and Archives,
at the Old County Courthouse in Fonda, NY.
Montgomery County, first named as Tryon County in 1772, in its original formation had its boundaries extending as far north as the St. Lawrence River, as far south as the Pennsylvania border, and as far west as the territories of the Six Nations. Prior to the settlement of the Europeans, Native Americans inhabited the lands throughout the valley named for the Mohawks, one of the six Iroquois tribes. Native Americans were the principal inhabitants in the area until attempts were made to civilize them. Early settlers to this area included the Dutch, in search of trapping and the fur trade, and the Palatine Germans, in search of religious freedom.
The Revolutionary War had significant impact upon the residents of Montgomery County. Four regiments, consisting of enlisted men throughout the valley, made up the Tryon County militia. Blood was shed on the lands within the county during this time. The battles that took place at Klock’s Field and Stone Arabia, not to mention the horrendous incursions by Johnson’s raiders, wreaked havoc. Lives and homes of area residents were ravaged and terrorized by groups that included their former neighbors.
The Erie Canal was constructed through Montgomery County. The development of a number of its towns can be attributed to "Clinton’s Ditch." In fact, the proximity of the Erie Canal was one of the factors supporting the move of the county seat from Johnstown to Fonda.
Principal farming products in the Mohawk Valley during the colonial period and immediately after the Revolutionary War centered around grains. Evidence of this type of farming was visible in the construction of the numerous Dutch barns. However, with the advent of the Erie Canal, farming changed from production of grains to dairy farming since the grains could now be transported from farms in the west. With the railroad, agriculture changed once again. As milk was not yet transportable in the rail cars, production turned to cheese.
The Montgomery County Department of History & Archives was formed in 1934 by resolution of the Board of Supervisors. Housed in the 1836 Old Courthouse, seen above, the department currently has one full-time County Historian/RMO and two part-time staff. The genealogical and historical research library contains a voluminous amount of records that are accessible to the public. Not a lending library, the Dept. of History & Archives welcomes visitors from all over the country in search of their heritage.