Man, do I love the web.

Birthday clouds over the NYS Thruway, Q. Cassetti, 2010So, to pick up where we left off. I was busy musing happily on how the naming of this nutty region happened. Dreaming of some scholar, schoolteacher who might have surveyed and in his dreamy way, somehow assigned value and sported his classical education in the naming of parts of Central New York. Rob found some interesting stuff that pointed to an idea there…but something caught my eye, the phrase “Military Tract” and so, as always, I googled it. Turns out there is a lot of talk on line about the “Military Tracts of Central New York” with wikipedia and rootsweb really getting into it. Wiki sez:

The Military Tract of Central New York, also called the New Military Tract, consisted of nearly two million acres(8,000 km²) of bounty land set aside to compensate New York’s soldiers after their participation in the Revolutionary War.

The United States Congress had already guaranteed each soldier at least 100 acres (0.4 km²) at the end of the war (depending on rank), but by 1781, New York had enlisted only about half of the quota set by the U.S. congress and needed a stronger incentive. The state legislature authorized an additional 500 acres (2 km²) per soldier, using land from 25 Military Tract Townships to be established in central New York State. Each of the townships was to comprise 100 lots of 600 acres (2.4 km²) each. Three more such townships were later added to accommodate additional claims at the end of the war.

The townships were at first numbered (1 through 28), but were later given (mostly) classical Greek and Roman names, along with a few honoring English authors:

1. Lysander
2. Hannibal
3. Cato
4. Brutus
5. Camillus
6. Cicero
7. Manlius

  8. Aurelius
  9. Marcellus
10. Pompey
11. Romulus
12. Scipio
13. Sempronius
14. Tully

15. Fabius
16. Ovid
17. Milton
18. Locke
19. Homer
20. Solon
21. Hector

22. Ulysses
23. Dryden
24. Virgil
25. Cincinnatus
26. Junius
27. Galen
28. Sterling

The tract covered the present counties of CayugaCortlandOnondaga, and Seneca, and parts of OswegoTompkins,Schuyler and Wayne. Most of these township names are reflected in current town names in these counties, but the area of the military townships do not correspond exactly with any of the modern towns, which only cover a fraction of the original townships.


So there you have it. Rome and England…all in one place. Names that have stuck in most cases, with the subdivisions of these towns taking on Native American names, or to my thinking, also taking on the names of those soldiers who earned their acreage….Certainly worth learning more of that. I am going to post the map with a close up for your amusement.