JEFFERSON county once formed part of the original county of Albany, the line of evolution from the latter being
as follows: Albany county, formed November 1, 1683; Tryon, formed from Albany, March 12, 1772; Montgomery, changed
from Tryon. April 2, 1784; Herkimer, formed from M ontgoinery, January 16, 1792; Oneida, formed from Herkimer,
March 15, 1798; Jefferson, formed from Oneida, March 28, 1805.
This county is situated in the northern part of the State of New York, in an angle formed by the St. Lawrence river
and Lake Ontario, the superficial area, according to the latest statistics, being 733,585 acres, equivalent to
1,146 square miles. It is bounded on the northwest by the St. Lawrence river, on the northeast by St. Lawrence
county, on the west by Lake Ontario, on the south by Oswego county, and on the east by Lewis county. The southwest
part is marshy. but at a short distance from the lake the land rises in gentle undulations, and, farther inland,
by abrupt terraces to the highest point, 1,200 feet above the lake, in the town of Worth. A plateau, about 1,000
feet above the lake, spreads out from the summit, and extends into Oswego and Lewis counties. An ancient lake beach.
390 feet above the present level of the lake, may be traced through Ellisburgh, Adams, Watertown and Rutland. North
of Black river the surface is generally fiat or slightly undulating; in the extreme northeast corner it is broken
by low ridges parallel to the St. Lawrence. With the exception of a few isolated hills, no part of the region is
as high as the ancient lake ridge mentioned. An isolated hill in Pamelia formerly bore a crop of red cedar; and
as this timber is now only found upon the islands in the lake and in the St. Lawrence, it is supposed that the
hill was an island at a time when at least three-fourths of the country was covered by water.
The main water features of the county are Ontario lake and St. Lawrence river. The main indentations of the lake
are Black River bay, Chaumont bay, Henderson bay and Griffin’s bay. Black River bay is accounted the finest harbor
on Lake Ontario. The largest islands attached to Jefferson county are Wells, Grindstone and Carleton, in the St.
Lawrence, and Grenadier, Galloe and Stony islands in the lake. Besides these there are innumerable smaller ones,
including several in the month of Black river, a number in Black River and Chaumont bays, and a portion of the
archipelago known as the "Thousand Islands.” Among the most prominent headlands and capes are Stony Point
and Six Town Point, in the town of Henderson; Pillar Point, in Brownville; Point Peninsula and Point Salubrious,
in Lyme, and Tibbett’s Point, in Cape Vincent.
There are about twenty small lakes in the county, of which ten are in Theresa and Alexandria. two in Henderson.
four in Ellishurgh, two in Antwerp, and one each in Orleans and Pamelia, Champion and Rutland. The largest of these
is Butterfield lake, lying between Theresa and Alexandria, which is about four miles in length. The other more
important ones are Perch lake, lying between Orleans and Pamelia, nearly three miles in length, and Pleasant lake,
in Champion, about two miles long.