Start My Family Tree Welcome to Geni, home of the world's largest family tree.
Join Geni to explore your genealogy and family history in the World's Largest Family Tree.

Genesee County, New York

« Back to Projects Dashboard

Project Tags

view all


Please add profiles for those who were born, lived or died in Genesee County, New York.

Official Website


The archaeological record at the Hiscock Site, in Byron, New York goes back to the Ice Age. Researchers have found a variety of manmade tools, ceramics, metal, and leather, along with a mastodon jaw, tusks, and teeth, and assorted animal bones, indicating long occupation of the site. This site is among North America's most important for archaeological artifacts from the Ice Age.

Varying cultures of indigenous peoples lived in the area for thousands of years. Hundreds of years before European exploration, the Iroquoian-speaking Seneca Nation developed in the central part of present-day New York; it became one of the first Five Nations of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy). Beginning in 1639 and lasting for the rest of the century, the Seneca led an invasion of Western New York, driving out the existing tribes of Wenro, Erie and Neutrals.

Its name is from Seneca word Gen-nis'-hee-yo, meaning "the Beautiful Valley". The county was created in 1802 and organized in 1803.

Genesee County was included in the 19th century "burned-over district" — the Western region of New York consumed by religious revivals characterized by "the evangelical desire to convert the entire American population to Christianity and to create a 'moral, homogeneous commonwealth.'" This religious moral crusade provided the social atmosphere that allowed antimasonic sentiment to gain momentum as a significant church-oriented movement and, later, a grass-roots political party that became the nation's first third party.

By the 1820s, Freemasonry was prevalent in Genesee County. From 1821 to 1827, half of all county officials were Freemasons. In September 1826, William Morgan, a resident of Batavia, New York, disappeared after having been briefly imprisoned for failure to repay a debt. Morgan had been rejected from the Masonic lodge in Batavia, and, as a result, threatened to publish a book which exposed the secret rituals of Freemasonry. His disappearance and presumed murder ignited a campaign against Freemasonry. The investigation into Morgan's disappearance confronted major obstacles from government officials and the judiciary- positions that were largely occupied by Freemasons. The Morgan affair combined with existing suspicions and distrust of the secrecy of Freemasonry initiated mass meetings throughout the county to decide how the issue of Freemasonry should be handled. The Antimasonry crusade's original goal was to oust Masons from political offices. Through the political guidance of party organizers, such as Thurlow Weed and William H. Seward, the crusade developed into a political party that enjoyed a political stronghold in Genesee County and the rest of the "burned-over district."

The Antimasonic Party found strong support within Genesee County from 1827 to 1833. The party averaged 69 percent of the vote and won every county office. After continuous domination of Masonic politicians, citizens saw Antimasonry as a solution and an opportunity to restore justice and republicanism. The Baptist and Presbyterian churches favored Antimasonry and encouraged their members to renounce ties with the fraternity. The party was originally associated with populist rhetoric, however, strong Antimasonic sentiment throughout the county correlated with positive economic developments and high population densities. Larger towns, such as Batavia, the county seat and Le Roy, harbored the strongest support for the party. The timing of the creation of the Antimasonic Party coincided with a time in New York politics that encouraged the expansion of political participation. The party leaders made the Antimasonic Party, and later the Whig Party, a great success in Genesee County and other neighboring counties.

Adjacent Counties

Cities, Towns & Communities

  • Alabama
  • Alexander
  • Attica
  • Batavia (County Seat)
  • Bergen
  • Bethany
  • Byron
  • Corfu
  • Darien
  • East Bethany
  • Elba
  • Indian Falls
  • Le Roy
  • North Bergen
  • Oakfield
  • Pavilion
  • Pembroke
  • Stafford
  • Tonawanda Reservation



Nat'l Reg. of Hist. Places

Iroquois Nat'l Wildlife Refuge (part)