Named in honor of Chancellor Robert Livingston
Livingston County was formed from Ontario and Genesee Counties on February 23, 1821, named in honor of Chancellor Robert Livingston, an eminent jurist, statesman and distinguished patron of agriculture. Between 1822 and 1857 the county annexed more land from Allegany and Steuben Counties to make up a total of seventeen towns including: Avon, Caledonia, Conesus, Geneseo (county seat), Groveland, Leicester, Lima, Livonia, Mount Morris, North Dansville, Nunda, Ossian, Portage, Sparta, Springwater, West Sparta and York.
Centrally located in the “Heart of the Genesee Country” in Western New York with the Genesee River flowing south to north through the valley, Livingston County is surrounded by rolling hills, rich fertile fields and includes two of the Finger Lakes, Conesus and Hemlock.
Prior to the Revolutionary War, the Seneca Indians, the most powerful of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy and allies of the British, inhabited Livingston County. In 1779 General George Washington selected General John Sullivan to lead a campaign into the area to destroy the Indian villages and their vast orchards that benefited the British at Fort Niagara. When Sullivan’s army reached the head of Conesus Lake in September, a scouting party was dispatched and soon ambushed and massacred by hundreds of Indian forces on Groveland Hill. Lt. Thomas Boyd and Michael Parker were captured and brought to Little Beard’s Town the Indian village near Cuylerville in the town of Leicester, where they were tortured to death. When Sullivan’s army arrived, the bodies were discovered and the village and crops were destroyed. The Ambuscade monument in Groveland and Boyd and Parker Memorial Park in Cuylerville honor those who lost their lives during the westernmost battle of the Revolutionary War in New York State.
The Big Tree Treaty held at Geneseo in 1797 was another significant historical local event in which the Seneca Indians relinquished their claims of ownership in exchange for the establishment of reservations. This event opened up millions of acres in Western New York for settlement.
The county is home to the State University of New York at Geneseo and the Genesee Valley Hunt; one of the oldest organized fox hunts in the United States. Among the notables who have left their mark here were; Chester Arthur, Clara Barton, Francis Bellamy, Millard Fillmore, Mary Jemison, Nathaniel Rochester, Daniel Shays and the Wadsworth Family.