Cortland County is located almost directly in the center of New York State. Its mountainous and often inhospitable landscape posed various difficulties for its earliest settlers. Goodwin discusses in depth the tumultuous tribulations which faced those settlers in their mission to establish and maintain civilized life in the midst of colonial conquest, border wars, Indian raids and the like. Specific episodes addressed reflect the very violent and disconcerting nature of life on the New York frontier, and how the inhabitants of Cortland County persevered to found a thriving community in the Appalachian Mountains of New York. Of particular interest to the genealogist are the sections that concern the emigration to Cortland County, and the settlement and organization of towns there. The author’s format is easy to understand and follow. Discussing each major settlement individually, he builds the town from the ground up, including: who the first homesteaders in the area were, what sort of business was carried out there, how local government was set up and administered, and who the most prominent families and citizens were. These chapters possess a bounty of information regarding family history: names of those who settled, what town they settled in, what their occupations were, where they came from, who their offspring were, who and how many family members still survived when this book was originally published, etc. Also helpful is the portion of the book dubbed Biographical Sketches which discusses even more thoroughly the area’s most distinguished citizens.
H. C. Goodwin